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Oscar Nominated Shorts: Live Action - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Oscar Nominated Shorts: Live Action
Sing (Mindenki): B+
Silent Nights: A-
Timecode: A-
Ennemis Intérieurs: A-
La Femme et le TGV: B+

Sing (Mindenki) Sing (Mindenki) (Hungary, 25 minutes) is a bit of a morality play involving singing children. Normally I would not endorse listening to singing children, which tend to sound off-puttingly shrill, but this short film presents a bit of a morality play. A little girl, who is new at the school, is asked by the chorus director to mime the singing so she can't be heard, because she's not quite good enough to match the quality that keeps this chorus winning championships. But the kids figure out a way to strike back, making for an ending that is surprisingly delightful.

Silent Nights Silent Nights (Denmark, 30 minutes) gets into slightly tricky territory, veering almost uncomfortably close to the "white savior" cliché and then subverting it. A young white woman with her own family problems -- a cripplingly alcoholic mother -- falls for a homeless immigrant from Africa while volunteering for the Salvation Army. But he keeps disappointing her, for reasons that are never all that simple. Nothing is ever black and white -- pardon the pun -- with these two, and their ethical dilemmas are presented via fantastic performances.

Timecode Timecode (Spain, 15 minutes) is easily the most fun of the five nominees presented here, at least partly due to it being, even at 15 minutes, by far the shortest. The title refers to the point at which two parking garage security guards on opposite shifts leave on notes for the other to find, then play back the security footage from that point the night before. I can't reveal any more because it would ruin the delights. Suffice it to say that the ending is the very epitome of "feel-good movie," and this one manages it in all of a quarter of an hour. Although all the shorts are great, if I were an Academy member, this one would likely get my vote.

Ennemis Intérieurs Ennemis Intérieurs (France, 28 minutes) is arguably the most tense of the nominees in this group, and is almost entirely presented like a two-person play: a French immigration officer interrogating an Algerian immigrant. Given the mention of his having been born when Algeria was under French control and thus he thinks of himself already as a Frenchman, there is definitely some history referenced here that many American audiences (like myself) won't be too familiar with. That said, even if the theme of prejudice against Muslims and illegal immigration are a tad on the nose (and perhaps, actually, heightens the likelihood that this one will win the award), this film is impressively staged and acted.

La Femme et le TGV (Switzerland, 30 minutes) is another heartwarming offering, if not the best of the group, although it does have easily the best cinematography and is consistently beautiful to look at. From the opening shot, frame after frame is stunning. And then we meet the older lady of the title -- translated as The Lady and the TGV, the "TGV" is the high-speed commuter train that passes her house twice a day. "Inspired by true events," we learn that she used to wave at the train, with a little flag, every day with her son. Her son is now grown, but she continues to wave every day as a means to feel like she's still close to him. Then, a passenger on the train leaves a note for her, and a correspondence begins. It's all very charming, then a little sad, and then charming again. It rounds out an unusually strong group of Oscar-nominated shorts.

La Femme et le TGV

Overall: A-
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