Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Oscars Central: Watch your shorts!

I highly recommend you try to catch one of the Oscar Nominated Shorts programs playing at the Varsity Theater through Thursday, March 9. The Live Action Shorts are more popular, but they're also darker; take a chance on the Animated Shorts, which includes a non-nominated -- but hilarious -- cartoon by Bill Plympton (The Fan and the Flower). Just for today I'm going to have to dispense with the "who was robbed" portion of my Oscars blog, since I don't see enough short films to take even an uneducated guess.

Live Action Short Film nominees: Ausreisser (The Runaway), Cashback, The Last Farm, Our Time is Up and Six Shooter.

Who will win: I'm not really familiar with the Academy's voting record in this category; this is the first year I've ever seen all of the nominees. My cheat sheet tells me that Ausreisser (from Germany: a man discovers a 6-year-old boy on his doorstep who claims to be his son) has already won the Student Academy Award, and it's got a helluva twist. But The Last Farm, from Iceland, is the kind of dark, moody film that the Oscars will probably reward. (Plot: an elderly man prepares to leave his isolated farm for an eldercare facility...but he's got a secret.) It's got an ending that packs a whollup. Whallop? You get the idea.

Who should win: Hey, all of these shorts are about death, except for one notable exception (Cashback, which is about sex). They're all kind of a downer. But my favorite was Our Time Is Up, which follows a psychiatrist (Kevin Pollak) through his regimented day; then he receives some momentous news that changes the way he counsels his patients. It's funny and concise. I'll take Pollak's Dr. Stern over Dr. Phil any day.

Animated Short Film Nominees: Badgered, The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation, The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, 9 and One Man Band.

Who will win: There are a lot of dark, depressing films in this category. With really long titles. The Mysterious Explorations... takes place in a plague-ridden country, where the main character is the navigator of an airship searching for a strange creature that holds the key to the cure. Meanwhile, The Moon and the Son... is a lengthy, imagined conversation between a man and his dead father, who he dreams of as the man in the moon. They have issues. Again, going by which film won the Student Academy Awards, 9 (Nine) might have it in the bag. In this stylish science-fiction-ish story, a doll-like hero confronts an insectoid monster that is stealing the souls of his brothers.

Who should win: One Man Band is really cute (it's from Pixar), but it won't win (it's from Pixar). Meanwhile, my favorite was Badgered: it's simple and cleverly hand-drawn (poor old badger just wants to get some sleep), and turns out it has an unanticipated commentary on war. Hey, the Academy likes films about war. Maybe ... uh, no. I'm okay if 9 wins.

Need more information before you place your bets? The Academy Awards nominees page has a brief synopsis of each film. You can also download clips if you can't manage to drag your ass over to the Varsity. Remember to stop by Manray on Sunday for "Ain't No Brokeback Mountain High Enough!" The 2005 Oscars party starts promptly at 5:00 pm, and there will be plenty of prizes. And pick up a print edition of the Seattle Gay News this Friday to read my predictions in the major categories.

Our Time Is Up photo courtesy Station B; Badgered photo courtesy the National Film and Television School.

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