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Ranking the 2022 Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Shorts


Ranking the 2022 Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Shorts 

Ranking the 2022 Oscar-Nominated Shorts Part 3

The live-action short film category at the Academy Awards is often quite bleak. One recent year, in fact, three of the five nominated films involved children dying.  That’s also the case this year, with the five chosen films exposing criminal justice inequities, terrorism, the death of loved ones, and other sad things. 

All five are available to watch as part of Shorts TV release of the shorts programs in theaters, while one of them was released by The New Yorker magazine and can be watched on its YouTube channel. My ranking of the films: 

1. Please Hold 

Please Hold
Image: Shorts TV

My favorite film of the five- and possibly of the entire shorts program this year – is  KD Davila’s film, a really creative allegory about the unfairness of the criminal justice system. 

Erick Lopez plays a man who is arrested on the street one day, by a drone, and tossed into a Kafkaesque nightmare in which automated hardware and software refuse to tell him his crime. The best idea, out of many, is that the “public defender” is played by a cartoon that resembles Clippy. 

The method is fictional, but the effect isn’t all that different from what happens when people without money are faced with arrest. 

It’s a bit of advocacy work, but one that gets straight to the point and makes it masterfully. 

2. On My Mind 

On My Mind short film
Image: Shorts TV

This film, out of Denmark, starts with a middle-aged man (Rasmus Hammeric) arriving in a mostly deserted bar and demanding to sing karaoke of the titular Elvis song. We soon learn why, and it’s quite heartbreaking. 

The film, directed by Martin Strange-Hansen, is available to watch on The New Yorker’s website, and you’ll be glad you did. 

3. The Dress 

The Dress short film | Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Shorts
Image: Shorts TV

This film, from Poland, tells the sort of story not often explored by the movies. A dwarf named Julka (Anna Dzeiduszycka) works as a cleaner in a trucker motel and lives a lonely life in which she really wants to get laid. 

Seeing an opportunity, she buys a dress for the occasion, but in what’s a theme in this category, things take a dark turn. 

Directed by  Tadeusz Łysiak, the film successfully creates a fully-realized world in its brief running time. It’s seen as a frontrunner in the category. 

 4. Ala Kachuu (Take and Run) 

Take and Run short film | Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Shorts
Image: Shorts TV

This film, out of Kyrgyzstan, looks at that film’s culture of forced marriage. Sezim (Alina Turdumamatova), an educated and liberated woman,  is kidnapped, tossed in a car, and forced into a marriage against her will. 

 Directed by the German-Swiss filmmaker Maria Brendle, this powerful film shines a light on a tragedy that most people who will watch it likely know nothing about.

5. The Long Goodbye 

The Long Goodbye short film  | Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Shorts
Image: Shorts TV

This film, directed by Aneil Karia and written by actor Riz Ahmed, is the shortest of the five, but it has the most jarring tonal shifts of any of them- perhaps too jarring. The 18-minute film starts out as a festive celebration in an English apartment before it’s suddenly shattered by the arrival of scary, possibly Nazi-aligned gunmen. Its last third features a spoken-word performance by Ahmed himself; the actor also released an album called The Long Goodbye in 2020. 

I might be interested in a full-length movie of this that had time to breathe, but as it stands, The Long Goodbye doesn’t quite work. 

Part 1: 2022 Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts
Part 2: 2022 Oscar-Nominated Documentary Shorts
Part 3: 2022 Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Shorts 

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist and film critic based in the Philadelphia area. He is the co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle and a Rotten Tomatoes-listed critic since 2008, and his work has appeared in New York Press, Philly Voice, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Tablet, The Times of Israel, and In 2009, he became the first American journalist to interview both a sitting FCC chairman and a sitting host of "Jeopardy" on the same day.

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