The 85th Academy Awards held in 2013 presented a captivating collection of Short Film nominees that demonstrated the power of storytelling in its most concise form. From heartwarming animations to gripping live-action dramas and eye-opening documentaries, the 2013 Oscars Short Film category celebrated the best and brightest of emerging directors, writers, craftspeople, and actors in the film industry.
Each film presented a unique perspective on the world, showcasing a level of creativity, technical expertise, and storytelling ability that is rarely found in mainstream cinema. In this article, we will explore the Oscar-nominated shorts of the 85th Academy Awards and examine what made each of them stand out in their respective categories.
These films prove that even with a limited runtime, short films can create a lasting impact on audiences and the film industry as a whole. Get ready to be amazed and inspired by the creativity and talent of some of the most promising filmmakers in the world.
Animated Short Films
Paperman is a charming and heartwarming animated short film directed by John Kahrs that was nominated for an Academy Award in 2013.
The film tells the story of a young man named George who meets a woman named Meg on his way to work one day. The two share a brief moment of connection before they are separated by the hustle and bustle of the city.
Later that day, George sees Meg in a neighboring building and tries to get her attention by throwing paper airplanes. The rest of the film follows the paper airplanes as they navigate the city, guided by an unseen force, in an effort to bring George and Meg back together.
The animation style of Paperman is a unique blend of traditional hand-drawn animation and computer-generated imagery. The characters and backgrounds are drawn in black and white, while the paper airplanes are rendered in full color. This style not only adds to the film’s nostalgic and romantic feel but also serves to highlight the importance of the paper airplanes in the story.
One scene that stands out, in particular, is when George is sitting at his desk, surrounded by stacks of paperwork. As he looks out the window, he sees a paper airplane fly by and follows it with his eyes. Suddenly, the paper airplane flies into the window and transforms into Meg’s face. This scene perfectly captures the film’s theme of unexpected connections and the power of small moments.
Overall, Paperman is a beautiful and touching film that is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who watches it. It is a film that is suitable for all ages and will appeal to anyone who appreciates a good love story. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is looking for a short but impactful viewing experience.
Adam and Dog
Adam and Dog is a heartwarming and beautifully animated short film that takes viewers on a journey through the story of Adam and his beloved dog in the Garden of Eden. Directed by Minkyu Lee, this 2013 Oscar-nominated film is a must-watch for anyone who appreciates animation and storytelling.
The film follows Adam, the first man on earth, as he explores the Garden of Eden and discovers the joys of nature and companionship with his loyal dog. As the two explore their surroundings, they form a deep bond that is tested when Eve, the first woman, enters their world. Adam must learn to balance his love for his dog with his new relationship with Eve, leading to a heart-wrenching conclusion.
Despite having no dialogue, the film’s characters are brought to life through their expressions, body language, and interactions with each other and their environment. The animation style is strikingly beautiful, with a hand-drawn aesthetic that perfectly captures the lush and vibrant world of the Garden of Eden. The use of light and shadow adds depth to the visuals, while the attention to detail in the characters’ movements and expressions makes them feel incredibly lifelike.
One of the standout scenes in the film is when Adam and his dog explore a river together. The animation of the water is stunning, with each ripple and wave meticulously crafted to create a sense of movement and fluidity. The scene perfectly captures the joy and wonder of exploration and the bond between Adam and his dog.
Overall, Adam and Dog is a touching and visually stunning film that will leave viewers with a sense of wonder and appreciation for the beauty of nature and the power of companionship. It is recommended for anyone who loves animation, storytelling, and the beauty of the natural world.
Fresh Guacamole is a whimsical and creative animated short film directed by PES. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2013 for Best Animated Short Film, and it’s easy to see why. With a runtime of just over a minute, the film manages to pack in a lot of fun and imagination.
The plot of Fresh Guacamole centers around a chef who is preparing guacamole. However, instead of using traditional ingredients, he uses everyday objects such as light bulbs, dice, and grenades to create his dish. The film is essentially a visual representation of the chef’s process, as he chops, blends, and mixes these objects together to create the perfect guacamole.
The animation style of Fresh Guacamole is what sets it apart from other animated shorts. The film uses a stop-motion technique, which involves taking individual photos of objects and then compiling them to create movement. This style of animation gives the film a unique and tactile feel, as each object is carefully crafted and manipulated by hand. The attention to detail in the animation is impressive, and it really adds to the overall storytelling.
One of the standout moments in Fresh Guacamole is when the chef uses a grenade as an avocado. The grenade is carefully peeled and sliced, revealing a bright green interior that looks just like an avocado. This moment is both funny and clever, as it subverts our expectations and shows us that anything can be used to make guacamole.
Overall, Fresh Guacamole is a delightful and entertaining animated short that is sure to put a smile on your face. It’s a film that can be enjoyed by both children and adults, as it has a playful and imaginative spirit. If you’re a fan of stop-motion animation or just looking for a quick and fun watch, then Fresh Guacamole is definitely worth checking out.
Head Over Heels
Head Over Heels is a charming and heartwarming animated short film that was nominated for an Academy Award in 2013. Directed by Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly and Timothy Reckart, the film tells the story of an elderly couple who have grown apart over the years and now live in a house where one of them is always upside down. The husband lives on the floor, while the wife lives on the ceiling.
The animation style of the film is stop-motion, which gives it a unique and tactile quality. The attention to detail in the sets and characters is impressive, and the use of lighting and camera angles is particularly effective in conveying the emotional state of the characters.
The main characters are the husband and wife, who are unnamed but are instantly recognizable through their distinctive appearances and mannerisms. The husband is a grumpy and practical man who has given up on his dreams, while the wife is a dreamer who still longs for the romance and adventure of their early years together.
One of the standout scenes in the film is when the husband decides to try to reconcile with his wife and climbs up to her on the ceiling. The sequence is beautifully choreographed and shot, with the camera following his ascent as he navigates the furniture and objects in the room. The moment when they finally come face to face is both touching and humorous, and the film does an excellent job of balancing these tones throughout.
Overall, Head Over Heels is a delightful and poignant film that will appeal to audiences of all ages. Its themes of love, commitment, and the passage of time are universal, and the animation style adds an extra layer of visual interest and depth. I highly recommend this film to anyone looking for a short but impactful cinematic experience.
The Longest Daycare
The Longest Daycare is a 2012 animated short film directed by David Silverman, known for his work on The Simpsons and Monsters, Inc. The film centers around Maggie Simpson, the youngest member of the iconic cartoon family, as she attends daycare for the day.
The plot follows Maggie as she tries to protect a butterfly from the clutches of the villainous Baby Gerald, a unibrowed toddler with a penchant for destruction. The film is a silent, dialogue-free story, relying on expressive animation to convey the characters’ emotions and actions.
The animation style in The Longest Daycare is simple yet effective, with a focus on bold, expressive lines and bright colors. The characters are designed in a classic cartoon style, with exaggerated features and movements that add to the humor and charm of the story. The animation style contributes to the storytelling by allowing the characters’ expressions and movements to convey meaning without the need for dialogue.
One standout scene in the film involves Maggie’s attempt to rescue the butterfly from Baby Gerald’s grasp. The tension builds as Maggie navigates the dangerous daycare environment, using her wits and resourcefulness to outsmart her rival. The scene is a masterclass in visual storytelling, with each movement and gesture conveying the characters’ intentions and emotions.
Overall, The Longest Daycare is a delightful and charming short film that will appeal to fans of The Simpsons and animation in general. While the story is simple, the animation and characters are so engaging that it’s impossible not to be drawn in. I would recommend this film to anyone looking for a quick, enjoyable watch, and it’s particularly well-suited for children and families.
Live Action Short Films
Curfew, created by writer-director Shawn Christensen, is a 2012 film that revolves around the life of a suicidal man named Richie. The story is set in New York City, where Richie receives a call from his estranged sister, asking him to babysit his niece, Sophia, for the night. The film explores the relationship between Richie and Sophia, while also delving into Richie’s troubled past and present.
The film’s visual style is dark and gritty, which reflects the mood of the story. The use of handheld cameras and natural lighting gives the film a raw and realistic feel. The cinematography is also notable, with striking imagery and creative camera angles that add depth and emotion to the story.
One of the standout moments in the film is when Richie and Sophia dance together in a bowling alley. The scene is shot in slow motion, with a dreamlike quality that captures the joy and freedom of the moment. It’s a beautiful and poignant scene that perfectly encapsulates the relationship between Richie and Sophia.
Another powerful moment in the film is when Richie opens up to Sophia about his struggles with depression and suicide. The scene is shot in a close-up, with Richie’s face filling the frame, making the audience feel as if they are in the room with him. It’s a raw and vulnerable moment that showcases the film’s ability to tackle heavy subject matter with sensitivity and grace.
Overall, Curfew is a beautifully crafted film that explores themes of family, redemption, and mental health. The film’s style and cinematography contribute greatly to the storytelling, creating a powerful and immersive experience for the audience. While the film may not be for everyone, it’s a must-watch for those who appreciate thought-provoking and emotionally resonant cinema.
Asad is a 2012 film directed by Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura that explores the struggles of Somali refugees living in a Kenyan fishing village. The film follows the story of a young boy named Asad, who dreams of becoming a fisherman in order to support his family. However, as he navigates the dangerous waters of the Indian Ocean, he must also contend with the harsh realities of life in a war-torn country.
The film’s visual style is stunning, with beautiful shots of the Kenyan coastline and intimate glimpses into the lives of the villagers. The cinematography is particularly impressive, capturing the raw emotions of the characters and the breathtaking beauty of the landscape.
One of the strengths of Asad is its ability to convey complex themes and emotions through its visual storytelling. For example, the scene where Asad’s mentor is attacked by pirates is both heart-wrenching and visually stunning, with the camera capturing the chaos and violence of the attack while also conveying the sense of loss and grief that Asad feels.
Overall, Asad is a powerful and moving film that provides a unique perspective on the struggles of refugees and the resilience of the human spirit. While it may not be for everyone, those who appreciate thought-provoking films and beautiful cinematography will find much to admire in this film. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a powerful and engaging film that explores important social issues.
Buzkashi Boys is a 2012 film directed by Sam French and Ariel Nasr that explores the lives of two young boys, Rafi and Ahmad, growing up in Kabul, Afghanistan. The film centers around the traditional Afghan sport of Buzkashi, a form of polo played with a headless goat carcass, which Rafi dreams of playing professionally, and Ahmad, who dreams of becoming a famous filmmaker.
The film’s style and cinematography are breathtaking and contribute to the storytelling in a powerful way. The filmmakers use stunning shots of Kabul’s landscape and architecture to create a sense of place and to show the contrast between the beauty of the city and the harsh realities of life there. They also use close-up shots of the boys’ faces to capture their emotions and convey the challenges they face.
One scene that stands out is when Rafi and Ahmad sneak into an abandoned cinema and imagine what it would be like to make a film there. The scene is shot with a dreamlike quality, and the boys’ imagination is contrasted with the reality of their lives. Another poignant moment is when Rafi’s father, who is a blacksmith, takes him to the Buzkashi arena and tells him about his own dreams of playing the sport when he was young. The scene is shot with a sense of nostalgia and longing, and it conveys the importance of tradition and family in Afghan culture.
Overall, Buzkashi Boys is a powerful and moving film that offers a glimpse into the lives of young boys growing up in Kabul. The film is beautifully shot and captures the contrast between the beauty of the city and the harsh realities of life there. I highly recommend this film to anyone interested in Afghan culture, sports, or coming-of-age stories. It is a must-see for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by young people in Afghanistan.
Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)
Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw) is a 2012 Belgian short film directed by Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele. The film tells the story of Nathan Rijckx, a soldier who died during World War I and is forced to collect shadows for the Shadow Market in the afterlife. He hopes that by collecting enough shadows, he will be able to return to life and reunite with the woman he loved.
The film’s main character, Nathan Rijckx, is played by Matthias Schoenaerts, who delivers a powerful performance that captures the character’s pain and desperation. The film’s visual style is stunning, with beautifully crafted sets and costumes that transport the viewer to a world that is both eerie and captivating.
The film’s style and cinematography contribute greatly to the storytelling, creating a dreamlike atmosphere that perfectly captures the film’s themes of love, loss, and redemption. The film’s use of shadows and light is particularly striking, with scenes that are both haunting and beautiful.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Nathan meets a young girl who has just died and is collecting her own shadows. The scene is both heartbreaking and beautiful, and it captures the film’s themes of loss and the desire for redemption.
Overall, Death of a Shadow is a stunning and powerful film that is both visually stunning and emotionally engaging. It is a must-see for anyone who appreciates great storytelling and beautiful filmmaking. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a thought-provoking and engaging film that will stay with them long after the credits roll. This film will appeal to anyone who enjoys fantasy and drama, as well as those who appreciate films that explore the human condition.
Henry is a 2012 film created by writer-director Yan England that follows the life of Henry, an elderly pianist suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The film is an emotional and poignant portrayal of a man who has lost his memory, but not his love for music.
Throughout the film, we are introduced to Henry’s family and friends, who share their memories of him and the impact he has had on their lives. The film’s subject matter is incredibly moving and thought-provoking, as it explores the nature of memory and the importance of music in our lives.
The film’s style and cinematography are integral to the storytelling, as they help to create a sense of intimacy and connection with Henry and the people in his life. The use of close-ups and tight shots of Henry’s hands as he plays the piano create a sense of intimacy, while the use of black and white footage and dream-like sequences add a layer of surrealism to the film.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Henry is introduced to a music therapist, who helps him to reconnect with his love of music. The scene is incredibly touching and highlights the power of music to transcend age and illness.
Overall, Henry is a beautifully crafted and emotionally powerful film that is sure to resonate with anyone who has experienced the impact of Alzheimer’s disease. I would highly recommend this film to anyone looking for a thought-provoking and heartwarming cinematic experience. It is a must-see for fans of films and anyone interested in the power of music to heal and inspire.
Documentary Short Films
Inocente is a 2012 documentary that tells the story of a 15-year-old homeless and undocumented immigrant named Inocente, who dreams of becoming an artist. Directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, the film explores Inocente’s life and her struggles to pursue her passion while dealing with poverty, homelessness, and a dysfunctional family.
The film’s style and cinematography play a crucial role in the storytelling. The filmmakers use vibrant colors and striking visuals to bring Inocente’s art to life and to convey the emotional depth of her story. The camera follows Inocente as she navigates the streets of San Diego, interacts with her family, and creates her art, giving the audience an intimate glimpse into her world.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Inocente paints a mural with a group of volunteers. The camera captures her passion and enthusiasm for her art, as well as the sense of community and hope that the mural brings to the people around her. Another powerful moment is when Inocente opens up about her past traumas and struggles, revealing a vulnerable side of her that the audience can relate to and empathize with.
Overall, Inocente is a poignant and inspiring film that sheds light on important issues such as homelessness, immigration, and the power of art to heal and transform lives. The film is recommended for anyone who enjoys documentaries that explore social issues and human resilience, as well as those who appreciate art and creativity. Inocente was nominated for Best Documentary (Short Subject) at the 2013 Academy Awards and is a must-see for anyone interested in thought-provoking and visually stunning films.
Kings Point is a 2012 documentary directed by Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider that explores the lives of a group of elderly residents in a retirement community in Florida. The film takes a poignant look at the realities of aging, loneliness, and the pursuit of companionship in the later stages of life.
The main subjects of the film are five residents of the Kings Point retirement community, each with their own unique story and struggles. Through candid interviews and intimate footage of their daily lives, the film delves into the complexities of their relationships, both with each other and with the outside world.
The visual style of the film is simple yet effective, with a focus on capturing the raw emotions and experiences of the subjects. The filmmakers use a mix of talking head interviews, observational footage, and archival material to create a powerful and thought-provoking narrative.
One of the most striking aspects of the film is how the style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling. The filmmakers use slow, deliberate shots to convey the sense of isolation and loneliness that many of the residents feel. The use of archival material also helps to contextualize the stories of the subjects and provide a sense of history and perspective.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when one of the residents, Mollie, reflects on the loss of her husband and the difficulty of finding companionship in her later years. Her vulnerability and honesty are both heartbreaking and inspiring, and it’s a testament to the filmmakers’ ability to capture the raw emotions of their subjects.
Overall, Kings Point is a beautifully crafted and deeply moving documentary that offers a rare glimpse into the lives of elderly Americans. It’s a film that will resonate with anyone who has experienced the challenges of aging or the search for companionship. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a thought-provoking and emotionally powerful documentary.
Mondays at Racine
Mondays at Racine is a heartwarming and uplifting documentary that follows the lives of several women who are battling cancer. Directed by Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan, the film centers around a beauty salon in Long Island, New York, called Racine, which opens its doors on the third Monday of every month to offer free beauty treatments to women who are undergoing chemotherapy.
The film introduces us to several women who are battling cancer, including Karla, a young mother who is trying to stay positive for her children; Theresa, a nurse who is facing her second bout with cancer; and Rachel, a single mother who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. The women come to Racine to feel beautiful and to take a break from the harsh realities of their illness.
The filmmakers use a verité style of filmmaking, which gives the film an authentic and intimate feel. We see the women in their most vulnerable moments, as they share their fears and struggles with the camera. The cinematography is beautiful, with the salon’s soft lighting and warm colors creating a comforting atmosphere.
One of the most poignant moments in the film is when Rachel comes to Racine for the first time. She is visibly upset and nervous about her diagnosis, but as she receives her beauty treatment, she starts to relax and open up to the other women in the salon. Another standout moment is when Karla’s daughter joins her for a day at Racine, and the two share a touching moment of bonding.
Overall, Mondays at Racine is a beautifully crafted film that celebrates the strength and resilience of women facing cancer. The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by creating an intimate and authentic atmosphere that allows us to connect with the women on screen. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is looking for an uplifting and inspiring documentary.
Open Heart, directed by Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern, is a powerful and heart-wrenching documentary that explores the challenges faced by children with heart disease in Rwanda. The film follows a group of young patients as they travel to the Salam Center in Sudan, the only hospital in Africa that provides open-heart surgery.
The main subjects of the film are the children and their families, as well as the doctors and nurses who work tirelessly to save their lives. The film provides a glimpse into the lives of these children and their families, who are faced with the daunting task of navigating a complex healthcare system and the emotional toll of dealing with a life-threatening illness.
The visual style of the film is stunning, with breathtaking shots of the African landscape and intimate moments between the patients and their families. The cinematography is particularly effective in conveying the emotional weight of the film, with close-up shots of the children’s faces and the surgeries they undergo.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when a young girl named Angelique is unable to receive surgery due to her weight. The doctors and nurses work tirelessly to help her lose weight, and the emotional impact of this scene is palpable.
Another standout moment in the film is when the children are able to return home after their surgeries. The joy and relief on their faces are truly heartwarming, and it is a reminder of the incredible work being done by the doctors and nurses at the Salam Center.
Overall, Open Heart is a powerful and emotional documentary that is sure to leave a lasting impact on viewers. It is a must-watch for anyone interested in healthcare, humanitarianism, or simply the human experience. While the film is not suitable for young children due to its subject matter, it is an excellent choice for older audiences who are looking for a thought-provoking and emotional documentary.
Redemption, directed by Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill, is a powerful and emotional documentary that explores the lives of homeless individuals in New York City. The film follows a group of people who collect cans and bottles from the streets and trash cans, hoping to make enough money to survive another day.
The main subjects of the film are a diverse group of individuals, including a Vietnam veteran, a former Wall Street broker, and a woman who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. Through their stories, the film highlights the many challenges faced by those who are homeless, including addiction, mental illness, and poverty.
The visual style of the film is raw and gritty, with handheld cameras capturing the harsh realities of life on the streets. The filmmakers use a mix of interviews and footage of the subjects collecting cans and bottles to create a sense of intimacy and connection with the audience.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when a man named Leo talks about his struggle with addiction and his desire to get clean. The camera stays focused on his face as he speaks, capturing every emotion and every tear that falls from his eyes.
Another standout moment in the film is when a group of homeless individuals are given a chance to perform on stage at a local theater. The joy and sense of accomplishment on their faces are palpable, and it serves as a reminder that even the smallest acts of kindness can make a big difference in someone’s life.
Overall, Redemption is a thought-provoking and moving documentary that sheds light on an often-overlooked population. The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by creating a sense of immediacy and intimacy with the subjects. I highly recommend this film to anyone interested in social issues or documentary filmmaking. It is a must-see for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by those who are homeless in America.
2013 Oscar Short Film Winners
Live Action – Curfew
Animated – Paperman
Documentary – Inocente