The Big Screen
12:00 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Movie Review: Oscar nominated shorts

The annual movie awards season is pretty much over for another year. But once again, you still have a chance to see some of the nominated films that never make it to everyone. The annual gathering of the Oscar Nominated Short Subjects returns once again to Cincinnati World Cinema next weekend. These films are categorized by live action and animated, and in order to give more variety to the arrangement, Cincinnati World Cinema mixes them up and adds some bonus films that didn’t make the cut. The two separate programs are then scheduled twice each, so you have a chance to see them all at once or on different days.

In the live action category, the winner was Denmark’s Helium about a hospital janitor and his friendship with a terminally ill young boy. It’s a good film, but I don’t know if I would consider it Oscar-winner worthy.

The other nominees are from France, England, Spain, and Finland. All are well made and have a modicum of interest, but I was more intrigued by a bonus film that’s included, but not available for preview: it’s a comedy called Not Quite Downtown Abbey. Knowing nothing but the title tells me it has potential, even though it wasn’t nominated, if for no other reason it’s a comedy.

The Academy seems to take great pride in nominating short films that are, in many instances, very hard to get through. And speaking of which, there was another film eligible for nomination this year that didn’t even get the time of day. It was a 30 minute film called It's a Frame Up, featuring an ersatz Abbott and Costello duo named Biffle and Shooster, who are put in charge of an art gallery when the owner desperately needs caretakers in his absence. It's a Frame Up was beautifully shot in black-and-white, and lovingly recreates the style of the short comedies from the golden years of movies. You know…when even the Three Stooges could occasionally get an Oscar nod for their short films. Hopefully, Cincinnati World Cinema will have an opportunity down the road to show It's a Frame Up as part of one of their programs. Note to the Academy: laughter is not a bad thing.

In the animation category, the winner was Mr. Hublot from Luxembourg. It’s an odd little film about an odd little man who is seriously obsessive-compulsive, and becomes enamored of a robot-dog. This odd little film looks both futuristic and historical in nature. Imagine if you will a cross between Hugo and Blade Runner. Anyway, it’s enjoyable enough and worth a watch.

I didn’t much care for Feral, about a wild boy in the woods who gets a brush with civilization due to the intervention of a hunter.

Disney / Pixar shorts almost always win, but this year’s Get a Horse did not. Given Disney’s proprietary nature, the film was not available for me to see, but maybe you already did see it, as it played before showings of Frozen.

The animated film I really loved was Room on the Broom, a lyrical, intriguing journey based on a children’s book featuring a good-hearted witch with a cat, a cauldron, and a flying broom. On their travels they encounter, and join forces with, a dog, a frog, and a bird. It benefits from lively, colorful animation, a good score, and voice talents from Gillian Anderson, Timothy Spall, and Simon Pegg. It would have been my winner hands down.

The programs of the Oscar Nominated Short Subjects plus bonus material will be shown at Covington’s Carnegie Arts Center on Saturday and Sunday, March 15th and 16th. For more information about the schedule and available ticket packages, visit Cincinnati World Cinema's web site.

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