The Best Oscars Short Films of 2015: Inspirational Cinema

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Written By Kelsey Waddell

Kelsey Waddell is a freelance writer living in Virginia. She's a fan of science fiction, Iron Chef, and anything with a musical number and a happy ending.

The 87th Academy Awards held in 2015 brought a captivating collection of films that showcased the diversity and depth of the short film genre. From thought-provoking documentaries to visually stunning animated shorts and emotionally charged live-action dramas, the 2015 Oscars Short Film category celebrated the best and brightest emerging talents in the film industry.

Each film presented a unique perspective on the world, demonstrating an incredible level of creativity, technical expertise, and storytelling ability. In this article, we will delve into the Best Short Film nominees of the 87th Academy Awards and explore what made each of them stand out in their respective categories.

These films prove that short films can be just as impactful and memorable as their feature-length counterparts, leaving a lasting impression on film audiences and inspiring the next generation of filmmakers. Get ready to be moved and captivated by the magic of cinema and the talent of some of the most promising filmmakers of our time.

Animated Short Films

Feast

Feast is a heartwarming animated short film that was directed by Patrick Osborne and produced by Kristina Reed. It was released in 2014 and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. This lovely film follows the story of a stray puppy named Winston who is taken in by a young man named James. Winston soon becomes a beloved member of James’ family, but his life is turned upside down when James begins a new relationship.

The animation style of Feast is simple yet effective. The film is presented in a style that resembles hand-drawn sketches, which gives it a charming and nostalgic feel. This style contributes to the storytelling by making the film feel more personal and intimate. The viewer is drawn into Winston’s world and experiences his emotions as if they were their own.

One of the standout scenes in the film is when Winston is first introduced to James’ love interest. The camera focuses on the food that is being served, and we see Winston’s reactions to each dish. This scene perfectly captures the essence of the film, which is about the joys and sorrows of life as seen through the eyes of a dog.

Overall, Feast is a touching and emotional film that is sure to tug at the heartstrings of animal lovers everywhere. The film is suitable for all ages and is particularly well-suited for families with young children. Whether you’re a fan of animated films or just looking for a heartwarming story, Feast is definitely worth checking out.

The Bigger Picture

The Bigger Picture, directed by Christopher Hees and Daisy Jacobs, is a 2014 animated short film that was nominated for an Academy Award. This stop-motion animation explores the strained relationship between two adult brothers, Richard and Nick, as they care for their elderly mother.

The film’s unique visual style is achieved through a combination of stop-motion and life-size painted characters. The result is a stunning and captivating visual experience that perfectly captures the essence of the story. The animation style plays a crucial role in the storytelling, allowing the audience to fully immerse themselves in the characters’ world.

The film’s main characters, Richard and Nick, are polar opposites. Richard is responsible and practical, while Nick is carefree and artistic. The tension between the two brothers is palpable, and the filmmakers expertly convey the complex emotions that come with caring for an aging parent.

The film’s standout moments are the surreal and dream-like sequences that take the audience on a journey through the brothers’ memories and emotions. The use of scale and perspective in these scenes is particularly effective, and the audience is left with a sense of awe and wonder.

Overall, The Bigger Picture is a poignant and beautifully crafted film that explores the complexities of family relationships and the challenges of caring for aging parents. While the subject matter may not be for everyone, those who appreciate artful storytelling and stunning visuals will find this film to be a true gem. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a unique and thought-provoking cinematic experience.

The Dam Keeper

The Dam Keeper is a 2014 animated short film directed by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi. The film is set in a world where a dam protects a small town from a constant onslaught of dark clouds and dangerous air pollution. The story follows a young pig named Pig who works as the dam keeper and is responsible for keeping the town safe. Despite his important job, Pig is an outcast at school and struggles to fit in with his peers.

The film’s animation style is breathtaking and unique. The filmmakers used a mix of hand-drawn and digital animation to create a visually stunning world that is both dark and beautiful. The use of color is particularly striking, with the dark clouds and pollution contrasting with the bright colors of the town and its inhabitants.

The characters in The Dam Keeper are all well-developed and relatable. Pig is a sympathetic protagonist who is easy to root for, while his classmates are complex and multidimensional. The film’s themes of bullying, friendship, and the importance of self-acceptance are all handled with care and sensitivity.

One of the standout moments in the film is a dream sequence where Pig imagines himself flying through the clouds. The scene is beautifully animated and conveys a sense of freedom and escape that is both exhilarating and poignant.

Overall, The Dam Keeper is a stunning piece of animation that is both visually striking and emotionally resonant. While it may be too dark for young children, it is a film that will appeal to audiences of all ages who appreciate thoughtful storytelling and beautiful animation. I highly recommend it.

Me and My Moulton

Me and My Moulton is a charming and heartwarming animated short film that was directed by Torill Kove and released in 2014. The film tells the story of a young girl named Janine who lives in Norway with her two sisters and her parents. Janine’s parents are modernist architects who have a unique and quirky approach to life that sometimes makes Janine feel left out and misunderstood.

Throughout the film, we see Janine struggling to fit in with her family and trying to find her own identity. She dreams of having a bike like her friends and feels embarrassed by her family’s unconventional habits. However, as the story progresses, Janine begins to appreciate her family’s quirks and realizes that being different can be a good thing.

The animation style of Me and My Moulton is simple and minimalist, with clean lines and bright colors. The characters are drawn in a stylized way that emphasizes their unique personalities and quirks. The animation style contributes to the storytelling by creating a whimsical and lighthearted tone that perfectly captures the spirit of the film.

One of the standout scenes in Me and My Moulton is when Janine’s parents take her and her sisters to a modernist furniture store. Janine is embarrassed by her parents’ enthusiasm for the furniture and feels like they don’t understand her. However, as she watches her parents interact with the furniture and each other, she begins to see them in a new light and appreciate their unique perspective on life.

Overall, Me and My Moulton is a delightful and heartwarming film that is sure to appeal to audiences of all ages. The film’s message about the importance of individuality and acceptance is both timely and timeless, and the animation style perfectly captures the whimsical and lighthearted tone of the story. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is looking for a charming and uplifting movie experience.

A Single Life

A Single Life is a 2014 animated short film directed by Joris Oprins. This film was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Animated Short Film category. The film tells the story of a young woman named Pia who receives a mysterious vinyl record that has the power to transport her through time.

The animation style in A Single Life is simple yet effective. The characters and backgrounds are all hand-drawn, giving the film a charming and nostalgic feel. The use of color is also notable, with bright hues used to highlight important moments in the story.

The main character, Pia, is a relatable and likable protagonist. Her curiosity and sense of adventure drive the plot forward as she travels through different stages of her life. The vinyl record serves as a metaphor for the fleeting nature of time and the importance of living in the present moment.

One of the standout scenes in the film is when Pia travels to the future and sees herself as an elderly woman. The animation style changes to reflect this, with a more abstract and surreal look. This scene is both poignant and thought-provoking, as Pia realizes the importance of cherishing each moment of her life.

Overall, A Single Life is a charming and heartfelt film that will resonate with audiences of all ages. Its themes of time, nostalgia, and living in the moment are universal and relatable. The animation style is simple yet effective, contributing to the storytelling in a powerful way. I highly recommend this film to anyone looking for a thoughtful and poignant viewing experience.

Live Action Short Films

The Phone Call

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUrOuHacPkU

The Phone Call is a 2014 short film directed by Mat Kirkby and James Lucas. The film explores the emotional and psychological journey of a woman named Heather, who works at a crisis hotline center and receives a call from a man named Stan, who is on the brink of suicide. The film follows their conversation, as Heather tries to connect with Stan and convince him to hold on to life.

The film’s style and cinematography play a crucial role in the storytelling. The film is shot in a close-up format, which creates a sense of intimacy and immediacy between the viewer and the characters. The use of close-ups also highlights the emotions of the characters, making the audience feel every beat of the conversation.

One of the most remarkable scenes in the film is when Heather tries to connect with Stan by sharing a personal story. The camera zooms in on her face, capturing her vulnerability and raw emotions. Another powerful moment is when Stan reveals the reason behind his decision to end his life and we see Heather’s reaction to it. The camera focuses on her eyes, which convey a mix of shock, empathy, and determination to save Stan.

Overall, The Phone Call is a powerful and emotional film that showcases the importance of human connection and empathy in saving lives. The film is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of hope. I highly recommend this film to anyone who appreciates a thought-provoking and emotionally engaging story. The film is particularly relevant to anyone who has ever struggled with mental health issues or knows someone who has. The Phone Call is a must-see for anyone who wants to experience the transformative power of human connection.

Aya

Aya, a 2014 film directed by Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis, is a gripping story of chance encounters and the transformative power of human connection. The film opens with Aya (played by Sarah Adler), a young woman waiting at the airport to pick up a stranger named Mr. Overby, a Danish businessman who she mistakes for her driver. Instead of correcting her mistake, Mr. Overby (played by Ulrich Thomsen) goes along with it, and the two embark on a road trip through the Israeli desert.

The film’s style and cinematography are key to its storytelling. The camera work is understated but effective, capturing the vast, barren landscape and the characters’ subtle facial expressions. The use of close-ups and tight shots creates a sense of intimacy between the characters, even as they are just getting to know each other. The editing is also masterful, with scenes transitioning seamlessly from one to the next, adding to the feeling of a journey unfolding.

One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Aya and Mr. Overby stop at a gas station, and Aya takes the opportunity to try on a dress from a roadside vendor. As she twirls in front of the mirror, Mr. Overby watches her with a mix of amusement and admiration. It’s a small moment, but it reveals a lot about the characters and their burgeoning relationship.

Overall, Aya is a beautifully crafted film that explores the power of human connection. The performances by Adler and Thomsen are subtle and nuanced, and the film’s pacing is just right, allowing the story to unfold at a natural pace. While it may not be for everyone, those who appreciate quiet, character-driven films will find much to enjoy here. I highly recommend Aya to anyone looking for a thought-provoking, emotionally resonant film.

Boogaloo and Graham

Boogaloo and Graham is a heartwarming and visually stunning film directed by Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney. The film tells the story of two young brothers growing up in 1970s Belfast, Ireland, and their unique relationship with their pet chickens, Boogaloo and Graham.

The film’s style and cinematography play a crucial role in conveying the story’s emotional depth. The filmmakers employ a mix of handheld camera work, close-ups, and beautifully composed shots to create an intimate and immersive experience for the viewer. The use of natural lighting and earthy tones adds to the film’s nostalgic and rustic feel, transporting us back to a simpler time.

The main characters, Jamesy and Malachy, are portrayed with great authenticity and heart by the young actors Riley Hamilton and Aaron Lynch. Their performances capture the innocence, curiosity, and resilience of childhood, and their bond with their beloved chickens is both touching and amusing.

One of the film’s most memorable scenes takes place when Jamesy and Malachy’s father, played by Martin McCann, discovers their chickens in the family home. His reaction is initially one of anger and disbelief, but as he witnesses the boys’ love and devotion to their feathered friends, he softens and ultimately comes to accept them as part of the family.

Overall, Boogaloo and Graham is a delightful and heartwarming film that will appeal to audiences of all ages. Its themes of family, friendship, and the power of love are universal and timeless, and its portrayal of a bygone era is both nostalgic and thought-provoking. I highly recommend this film to anyone looking for a charming and uplifting cinematic experience.

Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)

Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak) is a 2014 film directed by Hu Wei and Julien Féret. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film and has received critical acclaim for its unique storytelling and stunning cinematography.

The film takes place in a remote Tibetan village where a photographer sets up a mobile photo studio to take portraits of the villagers. The subjects are dressed in traditional clothing and pose in front of various backdrops, including a giant poster of the Eiffel Tower and a beach scene. Through the portraits, the film explores the clash between tradition and modernity in Tibetan culture.

The film’s style and cinematography contribute greatly to the storytelling. The filmmakers use a static camera to capture the portraits and the interactions between the photographer and the villagers. The camera remains still throughout most of the film, giving the audience a sense of the stillness and isolation of the Tibetan village. The use of natural light and the desaturated color palette also contribute to the film’s overall aesthetic, creating a sense of timelessness and nostalgia.

One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when the photographer takes a portrait of a young couple dressed in traditional clothing. As they pose in front of the Eiffel Tower backdrop, the couple begins to argue, revealing the tension between their desire for modernity and their adherence to tradition. Another standout moment is when a group of young monks arrive at the photo studio and are unsure of how to pose for their portrait. The photographer instructs them to pose in a way that reflects their personalities, resulting in a playful and joyful portrait.

Overall, Butter Lamp is a beautiful and thought-provoking film that offers a unique glimpse into a culture that is rarely depicted on screen. The film’s stunning cinematography and subtle storytelling make it a must-see for anyone interested in filmmaking or Tibetan culture. While the film may not appeal to everyone, it will resonate with those who appreciate slow cinema and contemplative storytelling.

Parvaneh

Parvaneh, directed by Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger, is a touching and insightful film that follows the journey of a young Afghan girl named Parvaneh as she navigates life in Switzerland. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2015.

The film’s visual style is intimate and raw, with the camera often following Parvaneh closely and capturing her daily experiences in a naturalistic manner. The use of handheld cameras and close-ups helps to create a sense of immediacy and emotional intimacy, drawing the viewer into Parvaneh’s world.

Parvaneh is a compelling and charismatic subject, and her story is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. She is a young woman who has left her home in Afghanistan to seek a better life in Switzerland, but she is struggling to adapt to her new surroundings. Despite the challenges she faces, she remains determined and resilient, and her spirit and courage are truly inspiring.

One of the film’s most memorable moments comes when Parvaneh decides to send some money back to her family in Afghanistan. She goes to the post office and asks the clerk for help, but the clerk is dismissive and unhelpful. Undeterred, Parvaneh decides to send the money herself and successfully completes the transaction, demonstrating her resourcefulness and determination.

Overall, Parvaneh is a beautifully crafted film that offers a glimpse into the life of a young woman who is struggling to find her place in the world. The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by creating an intimate and emotional connection between the viewer and the subject. I would highly recommend this film to anyone interested in stories of resilience and perseverance, particularly those interested in immigration and the experiences of refugees.

Documentary Short Films

Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 is a heart-wrenching documentary that delves into the world of veterans’ crisis hotlines. The film is directed by Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry and was nominated for the Best Documentary Short Subject category at the 2014 Oscars.

The film takes place at the Veterans Crisis Line call center in Canandaigua, New York, where a team of highly trained responders works around the clock to answer the calls of veterans in need. The documentary follows the stories of several veterans and the responders who try to help them through their darkest moments.

The visual style of the film is simple yet effective. The filmmakers use a mix of interviews, reenactments, and real footage to tell the story. The scenes of the responders answering calls are shot in a way that makes the viewer feel like they are right there with them, hearing every word of the conversation.

One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when a responder talks to a veteran who is on the verge of taking his own life. The desperation in the veteran’s voice is palpable, and the responder’s calm and patient tone is a stark contrast. It’s a scene that will stay with you long after the film is over.

The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by creating an immersive experience for the viewer. It’s as if we are right there with the responders, feeling the weight of each call and the urgency of each situation.

Overall, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 is a must-see documentary that shines a light on the struggles of veterans and the people who try to help them. The film is both heartbreaking and inspiring, and it offers a glimpse into a world that most of us will never experience. I highly recommend this film to anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of the challenges facing our veterans.

Joanna

Joanna is a 2014 documentary film directed by Aneta Kopacz. The film tells the story of Joanna Salyga, a young mother who is diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer while pregnant with her second child. The film follows Joanna’s journey as she battles the disease while trying to stay strong for her family.

The film’s visual style is intimate and personal, with much of the footage shot by Joanna herself. This gives the film a raw and emotional feel, as viewers are able to witness Joanna’s struggles and triumphs firsthand. The film is also beautifully shot, with stunning cinematography that captures the beauty of Joanna’s surroundings and the love between her and her family.

One of the standout moments in the film is when Joanna gives birth to her second child, a daughter named Kaja. Despite her illness, Joanna is determined to give birth naturally and the scene is incredibly powerful, as viewers witness the strength and courage of this remarkable woman.

Another memorable scene is when Joanna and her family take a trip to the beach. It’s a beautiful moment of joy and love, as Joanna is able to forget about her illness for a little while and simply enjoy being with her family.

Overall, Joanna is a touching and emotional documentary that will leave viewers feeling inspired and moved. The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by creating an intimate and personal portrait of Joanna and her family. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is looking for a powerful and uplifting story about the strength of the human spirit. It would be particularly relevant to those who have experienced cancer or know someone who has.

Our Curse

Our Curse is a 2014 documentary directed by Tomasz Śliwiński and Maciej Ślesicki that explores the lives of a young couple, Magda and Kuba, as they navigate the challenges of their newborn son’s rare and life-threatening condition. The film’s subject matter is heavy, but the filmmakers approach it with sensitivity and grace.

The film’s visual style is intimate and raw, with much of the footage shot handheld and in close proximity to the subjects. This creates a sense of immediacy and intimacy, allowing the audience to feel as if they are experiencing the same emotions and challenges as Magda and Kuba. The cinematography is stunning, with many shots of the couple and their son bathed in a soft, warm light that contrasts with the harsh reality of their situation.

One of the most striking scenes in the film is when Magda and Kuba have to administer a tracheotomy to their son, a risky and difficult procedure that they have to perform regularly in order to keep him alive. The scene is shot in close-up, with the couple’s hands shaking as they work to save their son’s life. It’s a powerful moment that highlights the couple’s strength and love in the face of overwhelming adversity.

Overall, Our Curse is a beautiful and moving documentary that offers a poignant look at the challenges faced by families dealing with rare and life-threatening conditions. While it may not be for everyone, it is a must-see for anyone interested in powerful and emotionally resonant filmmaking.

The Reaper (La Parka)

The Reaper (La Parka) is a 2014 documentary directed by Gabriel Serra Arguello that follows the life of a Mexican professional wrestler, La Parka. The film takes an intimate look at the man behind the mask and explores the physical and emotional toll that the sport takes on him.

The film’s style and cinematography play a crucial role in telling La Parka’s story. The camera work is raw and unfiltered, capturing every bruise, cut, and scar on La Parka’s body. The film also uses slow-motion shots to highlight the impact of the wrestling moves and the toll it takes on La Parka’s body.

One of the standout moments of the film is when La Parka discusses his family life and the sacrifices he has made for his career. He talks about missing his daughter’s birthday and how he struggles to balance his personal and professional life. This scene is incredibly emotional and provides insight into the sacrifices that athletes make to pursue their dreams.

Another powerful moment is when La Parka is injured during a match and has to be carried out of the ring on a stretcher. The camera follows him as he is taken backstage, and we see the pain and anguish on his face. It’s a reminder that behind the spectacle and entertainment of professional wrestling, there are real people who put their bodies on the line every night.

Overall, The Reaper (La Parka) is a gripping and emotional documentary that provides a unique look at the world of professional wrestling. While it may not be for everyone, fans of the sport will appreciate the candid and honest portrayal of one of its most beloved figures. I highly recommend this film to anyone interested in the human side of sports and the sacrifices that athletes make for their craft.

White Earth

White Earth, directed by J. Christian Jensen, is a 2014 documentary that explores the impact of the North Dakota oil boom on the small town of White Earth. The film follows three main characters: a young mother from Wisconsin who moves to White Earth with her children in search of work, a Native American oil worker struggling to provide for his family, and a young boy who dreams of escaping the town and becoming an astronaut.

The film’s visual style is stunning, with breathtaking shots of the North Dakota landscape and intimate glimpses into the lives of the characters. The cinematography captures the harsh realities of life in White Earth, from the barren oil fields to the cramped living conditions of the workers.

One of the strengths of the film is how it uses these visuals to convey a sense of isolation and desperation. The characters are all searching for something more, whether it’s a stable job, a sense of belonging, or a way out of town. The stark beauty of the landscape serves as a contrast to the struggles of the people living there.

One scene that stands out is when the young boy, who has been fascinated with space since his father died, visits a planetarium. The film uses this moment to explore the theme of escape and the power of imagination. It’s a poignant scene that encapsulates the film’s message about the importance of hope and dreams in difficult circumstances.

Overall, White Earth is a powerful and moving documentary that shines a light on a little-known corner of America. It’s a film that will appeal to anyone interested in social issues, environmentalism, or simply great storytelling. The film is recommended for mature audiences due to some language and adult themes.

2015 Oscar Short Film Winners

Live Action – The Phone Call

Animated – Feast

Documentary – Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1