The 92nd Academy Awards held in 2020 had a fantastic lineup of Short Film nominees, each one showcasing a unique blend of creativity, innovation, and storytelling.
The Short Film category at the Oscars has always been a platform for emerging talents, and this year’s selection of nominees did not disappoint. From inspiring documentaries to gripping live-action dramas and heartwarming animated shorts, the 2020 Oscars had a little bit of everything for every movie lover.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the Best Short Film nominees of the 92nd Academy Awards and examine what made each of them stand out in their respective categories. Get ready to be captivated by the magic of the silver screen and the creative brilliance of some of the most talented filmmakers in the industry.
Animated Short Films
Hair Love is a heartwarming and visually stunning animated short film directed by Matthew A. Cherry and Karen Rupert Toliver. The film tells the story of a young African-American girl named Zuri who wants to style her hair in a special way for a big event, but her father, who is not used to doing hair, tries his best to help her.
The main characters in the film are Zuri, her father Stephen, and her mother Angela. The film explores themes of family, love, and self-acceptance, as well as the importance of representation and diversity in media.
The animation style in Hair Love is unique and eye-catching. The characters are beautifully designed with expressive faces and detailed textures, and the backgrounds are vibrant and full of life. The use of color and lighting helps to enhance the emotional impact of the story.
One scene that stands out is when Stephen watches a tutorial video on YouTube to learn how to do Zuri’s hair. The animation cleverly shows Stephen’s frustration and confusion, as well as his determination to make his daughter happy. The scene is both funny and touching, and it highlights the importance of fathers being involved in their daughters’ lives.
Another memorable moment is when Zuri finally sees her finished hairstyle in the mirror. The animation captures her joy and excitement perfectly, and it is a beautiful moment of self-love and confidence.
Overall, Hair Love is a must-see film for audiences of all ages. It is a heartwarming and uplifting story that celebrates the beauty and diversity of African-American hair, as well as the importance of family and love. I highly recommend this film to anyone who appreciates great storytelling and stunning animation.
Daughter is a 2019 animated short film directed by Daria Kashcheeva. The film tells the story of a young woman who reflects on her relationship with her father and the impact it has had on her life. The film is a beautiful exploration of the complex emotions that arise from the parent-child relationship.
The film’s animation style is unique and contributes greatly to the storytelling. Kashcheeva uses a combination of stop-motion and hand-drawn animation to create a textured and layered visual style. The film’s use of close-ups and extreme close-ups adds to the emotional intensity of the story.
One of the most striking scenes in the film is when the daughter is remembering her childhood. The scene is filled with warm, nostalgic colors and the animation is incredibly detailed, capturing the small moments of childhood that stay with us forever.
The film’s main character, the daughter, is a complex and relatable character. Her experiences with her father are universal, and many viewers will be able to see themselves in her story. The father is a more enigmatic character, but his presence is felt throughout the film, and his absence is keenly felt by the daughter.
Overall, Daughter is a beautiful and moving film that explores the complexities of the parent-child relationship. The film’s animation style is unique and adds to the emotional depth of the story. I highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys animated films or is interested in exploring the complexities of family relationships. This film would be particularly appealing to adults and older children.
Kitbull is a heartwarming animated short film directed by Kathryn Hendrickson and Rosana Sullivan. The film was released in 2019 and received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Short Film. I chose to review this film because it is a beautiful and emotional story that showcases the power of friendship and compassion.
The film follows the story of a stray kitten and a pit bull who form an unlikely friendship. The kitten is initially afraid of the pit bull, but as they spend more time together, they realize that they are not so different after all. They find comfort and solace in each other’s company, despite the harsh realities of their lives.
The animation style of Kitbull is a unique blend of traditional hand-drawn animation and computer-generated imagery. The animation is fluid and expressive, and the use of color and lighting adds depth and emotion to the story. The attention to detail in the animation is remarkable, and it truly brings the characters to life.
One of the most powerful moments in the film is when the pit bull stands up to his abusive owner to protect the kitten. This scene is a testament to the strength of their friendship and the importance of standing up for what is right. Another standout moment is when the kitten realizes that the pit bull is not a threat but a friend, and they share a tender moment of affection.
Overall, Kitbull is a beautiful and emotional film that will tug at your heartstrings. It is a story about the power of friendship and the importance of compassion, and it is sure to resonate with audiences of all ages. I highly recommend this film to anyone who loves animation and wants to experience a touching and heartfelt story.
Mémorable is a visually stunning animated short film directed by Bruno Collet and Jean-François Le Corre. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2020 and has been praised for its unique animation style and emotional storytelling.
The film follows the story of an elderly artist named Louis, who begins to experience strange and surreal episodes of memory loss. As he struggles to hold on to his memories and his artistic ability, his wife Lise stands by his side, offering love and support as he faces this difficult challenge.
The animation style of Mémorable is a standout feature of the film. The characters are rendered in a claymation style, which gives them a tactile quality and a sense of weight and substance. The sets and backgrounds are also incredibly detailed and intricate, with a rich color palette that brings the film’s surreal landscapes to life.
The animation style is used to great effect in the storytelling, as the film explores the nature of memory and the way it can distort and fragment over time. The surreal and dreamlike imagery creates a sense of disorientation and confusion that mirrors Louis’s own experience of memory loss.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Louis and Lise visit an art museum, and Louis becomes lost in a hallucinatory vision of his own artwork. The scene is both beautiful and haunting, and it captures the film’s themes of memory, identity, and artistic expression in a powerful way.
Overall, Mémorable is a beautifully crafted film that explores complex themes with sensitivity and nuance. While it may not be suitable for very young viewers, it will certainly resonate with adults who appreciate thoughtful and emotionally engaging animation. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is interested in exploring the power of memory and the human experience.
Sister is a 2019 animated short film directed by Siqi Song. This film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2020. The story is set in China during the 1990s and follows the life of a young girl who is excited to welcome her new baby sister into the world. However, when she arrives, the girl discovers that her sister is not what she had expected.
The main character in the film is a young girl who is eager to become a big sister. She is full of excitement and anticipation, but when her sister is born, she is disappointed to find out that her sister is not a real person, but a doll. The girl becomes attached to the doll and treats it like a real sister. The story is told through a series of flashbacks, as the girl reflects on her childhood and her relationship with her sister.
The animation style in Sister is unique and adds to the storytelling. The film is stop-motion animated, which gives it a tactile and intimate feel. The use of muted colors and soft lighting creates a dreamlike atmosphere that enhances the emotional tone of the story. The attention to detail in the animation is impressive, from the intricate set designs to the subtle movements of the characters.
One scene that stood out to me was when the girl discovers that her sister is not real. She is heartbroken and refuses to accept the truth. The use of close-up shots and dramatic lighting emphasizes the girl’s emotional turmoil. Another powerful moment is when the girl realizes that her sister is not the only one who is not real. She learns that her parents have been hiding a secret from her, which further complicates her relationship with her sister.
Overall, Sister is a touching and poignant film that explores the complexities of sibling relationships and the power of imagination. I would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys thoughtful and introspective storytelling. The film is suitable for all ages, but younger viewers may not fully understand the themes and emotions conveyed in the story.
Live Action Short Films
The Neighbors’ Window
The Neighbors’ Window, directed by Marshall Curry, is a powerful film that explores the themes of aging, parenthood, and human connection. The film tells the story of a couple who become obsessed with the lives of their young and attractive neighbors after they move in across the street. The couple, who are in their forties and have three children, find themselves watching their neighbors’ every move, longing for the carefree and exciting lifestyle that they believe the young couple enjoys.
The Neighbors’ Window is a character-driven film that focuses on the emotions and experiences of its subjects. The main characters, the middle-aged couple, are relatable and sympathetic, and their struggles with aging and parenthood are universal. The young neighbors are also portrayed as complex and multi-dimensional, with their own fears and insecurities.
The film’s visual style is simple and understated, with a focus on natural lighting and intimate close-ups. The cinematography is unobtrusive, allowing the audience to become fully immersed in the characters’ lives and emotions. The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by creating a sense of intimacy and authenticity, making the audience feel as though they are witnessing real-life events rather than a scripted narrative.
One scene that stood out to me was when the middle-aged couple watches their neighbors dance in their living room. The camera focuses on the couple’s faces as they watch the young couple’s joyful and carefree dance, and we can see the longing and envy in their eyes. This scene perfectly captures the film’s themes of aging and the desire for youth and vitality.
Overall, The Neighbors’ Window is a beautifully crafted film that is both poignant and thought-provoking. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in exploring the complexities of human relationships and the human condition. The film would particularly appeal to an audience who enjoys character-driven stories and intimate, understated filmmaking.
Brotherhood, directed by Meryam Joobeur and Maria Gracia Turgeon, is a poignant film that explores themes of family, tradition, and masculinity. The film follows the story of Mohamed, a Tunisian shepherd who must navigate his relationship with his two estranged sons when one of them returns home from Syria with a new wife.
The filmmakers use a mix of stunning cinematography and intimate interviews to tell the story of this complex family dynamic. The shots of the Tunisian countryside are breathtaking, and they contrast beautifully with the more intimate scenes between Mohamed and his sons. The film’s style and cinematography are crucial to the storytelling, as they help to convey the emotional weight of the characters’ experiences.
One of the most striking scenes in the film is when Mohamed confronts his son, who has returned from Syria with a woman he met there. The tension is palpable as the two men struggle to come to terms with their differences. Another powerful moment is when Mohamed’s wife, who has been absent from the family for many years, returns home and is forced to confront the pain she has caused.
Overall, Brotherhood is a beautifully crafted film that offers a powerful insight into the complexities of family relationships. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in exploring themes of tradition, masculinity, and family dynamics. This film would be particularly relevant to those who have experienced family estrangement or who are interested in exploring the ways in which cultural traditions can shape our lives.
Nefta Football Club
Nefta Football Club is a 2019 film directed by Yves Piat and Damien Megherbi that follows the story of two young brothers who stumble upon a donkey wandering in the desert near their village in Tunisia. They soon discover that the donkey is carrying a stash of drugs, and they decide to use their newfound wealth to join their local football club.
The film’s visual style is stunning, with breathtaking shots of the Tunisian desert and the vibrant colors of the local village. The cinematography captures the beauty of the landscape and the daily lives of the villagers, providing a unique glimpse into a world that is often overlooked.
The two young brothers are the main subjects of the film, and their innocence and naivety are endearing. They are portrayed as typical children, curious about the world around them and eager to explore. Their discovery of the drugs and their subsequent decision to use the money to join the football club is a poignant commentary on the socio-economic issues facing many communities in Tunisia.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when the boys arrive at the football club with their donkey, not realizing the true nature of their cargo. The confusion and hilarity that ensue are both heartwarming and humorous, providing a much-needed moment of levity in an otherwise serious film.
The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by providing a unique perspective on the lives of the villagers. The stunning visuals and intimate portrayal of the characters allow the audience to connect with them on a personal level, making the film all the more impactful.
Overall, Nefta Football Club is a touching and thought-provoking film that offers a glimpse into the lives of those living in rural Tunisia. The film is highly recommended for those interested in exploring the human condition and the socio-economic issues facing many communities around the world.
Saria is a gripping and heartbreaking film directed by Bryan Buckley and Matt Lefebvre that tells the story of the 2017 tragedy at the Virgen de la Asunción Safe Home in Guatemala. The film follows the lives of two sisters, Saria and Ximena, who are living in the home, and their desperate attempts to escape the brutal conditions and abuse they face on a daily basis.
The film’s style and cinematography are essential to its storytelling. The filmmakers use a gritty, realistic approach to capture the harsh reality of life in the safe home. The camera work is raw and unflinching, bringing the audience into the world of the sisters and their fellow inmates. The use of handheld cameras and long takes adds to the sense of immediacy and urgency, making the audience feel like they are right there with the characters.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when the girls stage a protest against the conditions in the safe home. The camera follows them as they walk through the halls, banging on doors and shouting for help. The tension and fear are palpable as the girls are met with resistance from the staff and guards.
Another standout moment is when Saria and Ximena make their final escape attempt. The camera follows them as they climb over the fence and run through the woods, their desperation and determination palpable. The scene is both thrilling and heartbreaking, as we know the tragic fate that awaits them.
Overall, Saria is a powerful and important film that sheds light on the tragic events at the Virgen de la Asunción Safe Home and the lives of the girls who suffered there. It is a must-watch for anyone interested in social justice and human rights issues. While the subject matter is heavy, the film is expertly crafted and deeply moving. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a thought-provoking and impactful film.
A Sister is a gripping and emotional film that explores the harrowing experience of a woman who is the victim of domestic violence. Directed by Delphine Girard, the film follows the story of Ana, a woman who works as a translator for emergency services in Belgium. One night, Ana receives a distressing phone call from a woman who is being attacked by her husband. As Ana attempts to keep the woman on the line and get her to safety, she realizes that the situation is eerily similar to her own past experiences with domestic abuse.
The film’s style and cinematography are incredibly effective in conveying the intense emotions and tension of the story. The camera work is often handheld and shaky, which creates a sense of immediacy and urgency. The use of close-ups of Ana’s face allows the audience to experience her fear and anxiety firsthand. The film also employs a muted color palette, which adds to the overall sense of unease and tension.
One particular scene that stands out is when Ana receives the phone call from the woman in distress. The camera remains fixed on Ana’s face as she listens to the woman’s screams and cries for help. The tension is palpable, and the audience is left feeling as though they are right there with Ana, trying to help the woman in danger.
Overall, A Sister is a powerful and important film that sheds light on the devastating effects of domestic violence. The film’s subject matter may be difficult for some viewers to watch, but it is an important story that needs to be told. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is interested in thought-provoking and emotionally impactful films. It is a film that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
Documentary Short Films
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) is a heartwarming and inspiring documentary that follows a group of young girls in Afghanistan who attend a school where they learn how to skateboard. Directed by Carol Dysinger and Elena Andreicheva, the film sheds light on the struggles these girls face in their daily lives and the impact skateboarding has on their confidence and sense of self.
The film primarily focuses on the story of a young girl named Fazila, who dreams of becoming a doctor but must navigate the challenges of growing up in a war-torn country where girls are often denied education and opportunities. Through her journey, we see the incredible resilience and determination of these young girls as they push past societal barriers to pursue their passions.
The visual style of the film is raw and intimate, with the camera often capturing close-up shots of the girls’ faces as they express their thoughts and emotions. The use of slow-motion shots during the skateboarding scenes creates a sense of freedom and joy that contrasts with the harsh realities of their lives.
One particular scene that stood out to me was when Fazila and her classmates visited a local skate park where they were met with disapproval and harassment from male skaters. Despite this, the girls refused to back down and continued to skate with confidence and determination, a powerful moment that showcases the strength and resilience of these young girls.
Overall, Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) is a beautifully crafted documentary that sheds light on an important issue while also telling a compelling and heartwarming story. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is interested in learning more about the struggles faced by girls in Afghanistan or who simply wants to be inspired by the strength and resilience of these incredible young girls.
In the Absence
In the Absence, directed by Yi Seung-Jun and Gary Byung-Seok Kam, is a 2019 documentary that tells the story of the tragic sinking of the South Korean ferry Sewol in 2014. The film is a heart-wrenching account of the disaster, which claimed the lives of 304 people, most of whom were high school students on a field trip.
The film’s main focus is on the families of the victims, who are still grappling with the loss of their loved ones. The directors use news footage, interviews, and phone recordings to piece together the events leading up to the disaster, as well as the aftermath.
The visual style of the film is simple and understated, with the directors relying on a mix of talking head interviews and archival footage to tell the story. However, it’s the way the filmmakers present the footage that makes the film so powerful. The interviews are shot in a way that makes the subjects feel like they’re speaking directly to the viewer, while the archival footage is presented without any commentary, allowing the events to speak for themselves.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when the families of the victims gather to mourn their loved ones. The camera lingers on their faces as they weep and pray, creating an incredibly emotional and poignant moment. Another standout scene is when the parents of the victims confront government officials, demanding answers and accountability for the disaster.
Overall, In the Absence is a powerful and moving documentary that sheds light on a tragedy that shook South Korea to its core. The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by creating an immersive and emotional experience for the viewer. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is interested in documentaries that tackle important social issues and human stories. However, due to the sensitive subject matter, this film may not be suitable for all audiences.
Life Overtakes Me
Life Overtakes Me is a poignant and heart-wrenching documentary that explores the mysterious and devastating illness known as Resignation Syndrome. Directed by John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson, the film follows several families in Sweden whose children have fallen into a state of coma-like withdrawal as a response to traumatic experiences, such as forced deportation or separation from their parents.
The film’s visual style is simple yet effective, with a focus on close-ups of the children’s faces and hands, as well as footage of their daily routines and medical treatments. The use of natural light and muted colors creates a dreamlike atmosphere that mirrors the children’s dissociative state, while the absence of a traditional narrator or talking heads allows the families’ stories to speak for themselves.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film shows a nurse gently massaging the limbs of a comatose child, trying to prevent muscle atrophy. As the child’s mother watches, tears streaming down her face, we realize the immense emotional toll that Resignation Syndrome takes on the entire family. Another memorable moment is when a young boy, who has been in a coma for over a year, suddenly wakes up and smiles at his mother, a glimmer of hope in an otherwise bleak situation.
Overall, Life Overtakes Me is a moving and thought-provoking documentary that sheds light on a little-known but devastating illness. While the film does not offer any easy solutions or happy endings, it does inspire empathy and compassion for the families affected by Resignation Syndrome. I would highly recommend this film to anyone interested in human rights, mental health, or social justice issues. However, due to the heavy subject matter, it may not be suitable for young children or those who are easily triggered by traumatic content.
St. Louis Superman
St. Louis Superman is a gripping and heart-warming documentary that follows the life of Bruce Franks Jr., a battle rapper and community activist who becomes a state representative in Missouri. Directed by Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan, the film chronicles Franks’ journey from his troubled childhood to his rise as a prominent political figure fighting for social justice and reform.
The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by creating an intimate and emotional connection between the audience and the subjects. The use of close-ups and handheld cameras capture the raw emotions and vulnerability of Franks and his family, while the use of archival footage and animation adds depth and context to his story.
One of the standout scenes in the film is when Franks delivers a powerful speech on the floor of the Missouri House of Representatives, where he shares his personal experience with gun violence and advocates for stronger gun control laws. The scene is both inspiring and heartbreaking, as Franks’ words are met with resistance and indifference from his colleagues.
Another memorable moment is when Franks visits Ferguson, Missouri, the site of the 2014 protests following the shooting of Michael Brown, and meets with local activists and community members. The scene highlights Franks’ commitment to his community and his unwavering dedication to creating real change.
Overall, St. Louis Superman is a must-see documentary that offers a unique and inspiring perspective on the power of activism and community. The film is particularly relevant today, as issues of racial injustice and police brutality continue to dominate the national conversation. I highly recommend this film to anyone interested in politics, social justice, or simply looking for a moving and thought-provoking documentary.
The film would be especially appealing to those interested in American politics and activism, as well as fans of documentaries that focus on personal stories and human struggles.
Walk Run Cha-Cha
Walk Run Cha-Cha, directed by Laura Nix and Colette Sandstedt, is a heartwarming and captivating documentary that follows the lives of Paul and Millie Cao, a Vietnamese couple who were separated during the Vietnam War and reunited in the United States years later. The film explores their journey through dance, as they train tirelessly for a ballroom dance competition.
The documentary provides an intimate look into the lives of the couple, who were forced to leave their home country during the war and eventually found themselves in America. The film showcases their passion for dance, which serves as a metaphor for their relationship and their ability to overcome the challenges they faced.
The cinematography in Walk Run Cha-Cha is stunning and effectively captures the emotions of the subjects. The use of slow-motion shots during the dance scenes highlights the beauty and grace of the couple’s movements. The documentary also includes a mix of archival footage and present-day scenes, which adds depth to the story and helps the audience understand the couple’s journey.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Paul and Millie reminisce about their past and share their experiences during the war. The emotional moment is captured beautifully and adds a layer of depth to the story. Another standout scene is when Paul and Millie perform their dance routine, which is a testament to their dedication and hard work.
Overall, Walk Run Cha-Cha is a touching and inspiring documentary that is sure to leave a lasting impression on its viewers. It is a film that celebrates love, resilience, and the power of dance. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys documentaries or is interested in the human experience.
2020 Oscar Short Film Winners
Live Action – The Neighbors’ Window
Animated – Hair Love
Documentary – Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)