2019 Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Live Action

2019 Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Live Action

2019, NR, 109 min. Directed by Various.

REVIEWED By Matthew Monagle, Fri., Feb. 8, 2019

If there is a single dramatic thread that holds together this year’s Academy Award-nominated short live action films, it has to do with children in harm’s way. Four of the five deal with a young boy who is the victim – or, in several notable cases, the perpetrator  – of an act of unspeakable trauma. That doesn’t make this year’s nominees the easiest batch of films to sit through, but it does speak to a cultural anxiety about the impact we are having on the next generation. Through our learned behaviors, and despite the best intentions, the next generation of young men seems in for some pretty tough sledding.

The standout of the program is Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s "Madre," a harrowing portrayal of a mother trying to help her lost son locate his missing father. The film unfolds as a single take; what could serve as a distracting gimmick in lesser hands is instead a perfect complement to the gradual escalation of terror felt by the title character.

Continuing the trend of abducted children, Vincent Lambe’s "Detainment" dramatizes the infamous 1993 murder of James Bulger, a 2-year-old who was beaten to death by a pair of 10-year-old boys. There’s nothing at all subtle about the short, but there’s also no denying the allure of the source material: The two boys would, for a time, be the youngest convicted murders of the 20th century. By contrast, Jeremy Comte’s "Fauve" opts for a more minimalistic approach with its two young leads, putting a pair of adventurous boys on a collision course with disaster. It’s a master class in mounting dread, with an unexpected accident progressively getting worse as the short unfolds.

Guy Nattiv’s "Skin" may angle for grotesque political commentary in its depiction of a conflict between a white supremacist and an unsuspecting black family, but its bizarre resolution suggests the filmmaker bit off far more than he could chew. The final shot indicates it was trying to say something about generational prejudices, but the film is nowhere near as challenging as it thinks it might be. Finally, after a string of genre-tinged shorts, Marianne Farley’s "Marguerite" is a quiet reset. The film follows the titular character in her final days as her relationship with her caretaker inspires her to re-evaluate relationships long since forgotten. It’s an important reminder that not everyone who lived through past generations preferred what they had to offer; as a result, the film contains empathy in every frame.

Showtimes

AFS Cinema

6406 N. I-35 #3100, 512/686-3823, www.austinfilm.org/cinema

Mon., Feb. 18

6:15

Wed., Feb. 20

3:30

Thu., Feb. 21

6:15

Mon., Feb. 18

1:35, 7:55

Tue., Feb. 19

6:45
AFA 1:50

Arbor Cinema @ Great Hills

9828 Great Hills Trail, 512/231-9742

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Mon., Feb. 18

12:20

Tue., Feb. 19

12:20, 6:40

Wed., Feb. 20

12:20, 6:40

Thu., Feb. 21

12:20, 6:40

Violet Crown Cinema

434 W. Second, 512/495-9600, www.violetcrowncinema.com

Four-hour parking validation in attached garage with ticket purchase. Reserved seating; bar and cafe on-site.

Mon., Feb. 18

4:10, 9:35

Tue., Feb. 19

4:10, 9:10

Wed., Feb. 20

4:10, 9:10

Thu., Feb. 21

4:10, 9:10

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Various Films
2019 Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Documentary
Tales of love and hate dominate these Oscar hopefuls

Marc Savlov, Feb. 8, 2019

2019 Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Animation
The Academy's five favorite animated shorts, plus two ringers

Marjorie Baumgarten, Feb. 8, 2019

More by Matthew Monagle
Alita: Battle Angel
The manga heroine comes to motion capture life

Feb. 15, 2019

The Prodigy
Childhood possession horror leaves us in two minds

Feb. 8, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

2019 Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Live Action, Various

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle