In every category, these shorts address topics from history to identity with the same depth as full-length films.
This past year, films ranged from touching and sweet to heartbreaking and thought-provoking to simply funny. The Oscar-nominated shorts are no exception. Whether nominated in categories for Best Animated Short, Best Live Action Short or Best Documentary Short, each of these films highlighted the innovative approaches of their directors in less than 40 minutes. Though small in the number of minutes each one is allotted, they are entertaining and some had a message that is worth sharing with movie lovers. In other words, no matter how tiny the package, there might be a big surprise.
The messages these shorts conveyed were about self-love, compassion, coping with tragedies and facing the realities of being in an unforgiving world yet still striving to be happy and finding love. Each short deals with the plot head-on no matter how heavy or light it was, and it never deters from the uniqueness. Instead, the stories grow into miniature masterpieces that could rival any giant motion picture being nominated at the Academy Awards.
For instance, “Hair Love,” nominated this year for Best Animated Short Film, is a touching story about a young, African American girl and her father figuring out how to style her and give her the much needed confidence to feel beautiful and accept her hair as it is. Though it seems light and humorous, it deals with issues like self-love and highlights the strong bond between father and daughter.
Or take “Learning to Skate in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl),” nominated for Best Documentary Short. This film encourages viewers to find joy in a war-torn area, centering on a character who focuses on education and learning to skateboard. The short film highlights the importance of having an outlet, especially for girls in the Middle East and finding happiness even if there is despair. It’s about rising to the occasion and dedicating yourself to your passions, even if it seems out of the ordinary.
“The Neighbors’ Window,” nominated for Best Live Action Short, tells a story of discovering a new life through a window. This helps the main character consider their own life. “The Neighbors’ Window” is raw; it illustrates the longing for excitement and realization of the loneliness engulfing the main character in spite of their own daily routine. It’s touching, yet sad. Nevertheless, the underlying message is that although the grass looks greener on the other side, sometimes the grass on your side is not so bad after all. It also demonstrates how the people in our lives need compassion and that we can reach out somehow.
This was also the case with “Run Walk Cha-Cha,” a nominee for Best Documentary Short. In this film, immigrants from Vietnam find their passion for dancing and for each other on the dance floor. “Run Walk Cha-Cha” highlights that starting over is not necessarily a bad thing and that having that outlet can be a meaningful and beautiful thing to hold on to for years to come.
The Oscar-nominated short films like the ones mentioned deserve the nominations they received. It’s a way of showing more of the world despite the limited runtimes.