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Oscar Nominated Shorts 2021

 

The Academy Awards show will take place this year on Sunday, April 25th, much later in the year than usual after it was pushed back 2 months because of the pandemic. As we get ready to fill out our ballots, the shorts are always the big question. So here’s a quick run-down on all three categories: Animation, Documentary, and Live Action.

Review: Slalom

Competitive sports are hell on the body and the mind. Even more so when you’re a teenager with no support system. In Slalom, Lyz (Noée Abita) is an ambitious and talented young skier who eyes the fulfillment of her dreams when she’s accepted at a prestigious ski training school in the French Alps. She’s just 15-years-old and still in high school, and pretty naive about the world. But ski pro-turned-coach Fred (Jérémie Renier) sees something in her and takes her on as his special case, training her hard and pushing her to be the best. And it works. She starts winning all the big prizes. But that’s not all he wants from her. He’s a predator, a control freak, and a sleaze. And she’s too young to have to deal with that, especially when her mother is nowhere to be found. Writer-director Charlène Favier, herself a former competitive skier, says the film isn’t exactly autobiographical, but it depicts the uneven power dynamic between athletes and their coaches that can and has crossed the line all too frequently in the sport. It’s a powerful #metoo film with great performances.

Review: Keep an Eye Out

One of last year’s most strangely entertaining films was Quentin Dupieux’s Deerskin about a man’s bloody obsession with a deerskin jacket.  Dupieux is back this year with another black comedy, this time a police procedural with a decidedly absurdist twist. There’s a murder and a witness/suspect who’s being interrogated, and a death in the room that the witness/suspect covers up while the police inspector is out of the room, and some weird time manipulations in the flashbacks of his testimony. And it’s all played pretty deadpan. And it’s strangely entertaining in a trés French sort of way.

Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 7

This week’s picks won boatloads of Oscars and had nominations galore. They hail from France, and Italy, and Germany, and Spain, and one has no dialogue.

When I put together the list I was just choosing a favorite film a day with no overall agenda, but this week’s turn out to be heavy on male characters, from a movie star to a boxer, a mime to a brute, an angel to a hard boiled detective. And five of them are in black and white.

The films are:

The Artist; Raging Bull; Biutiful; Les Enfants Du Paradis; Chinatown; Wings of Desire; La Strada 

 

Arty Chick’s Seven Picks: Week 6

This week’s picks include two French films that couldn’t be more dissimilar, one a psychological thriller, and the other a magical story set in Paris. There’s an Italian ode to the world of movies, a story of a man drunk on celebrity, another of a simple man who finds celebrity without knowing it, a bureaucrat caught in a dystopian nightmare, and an undercover Hollywood director searching for the authentic America.

A couple of them won Oscars. All of them were worthy of the accolades they received.

This week’s picks are:  Monsieur Hire;  A Face in the Crowd; Sullivan’s TravelsBrazil Being There ; Cinema Paradiso; Amelie

Arty Chick’s Seven Picks: Week 5

This week’s  picks include a healthy dose of Roman decadence, an obsessive and tragic snoop, a ghostly romance, a grieving mother on the warpath, violent union busting, food to die for, and a woman who’s brutally honest about sleeping her way to the top.  Something for everyone!  One is from Italy, another from Germany. There’s a Korean flick and a Danish one, too. And three of them are Oscar winners.

This week’s picks are:  La Grande Bellezza; The Lives of Others; Truly Madly DeeplyMother Matewan ; Babette’s Feast; Baby Face

Review: The Bare Necessity (Perdrix)

This French comedy is definitely for those who like their films on the quirky side. In it a young woman named Juliette (Maud Wyler, Blue Is the Warmest Colour) is passing through a sleepy French town when her car is stolen by a naked woman. At the police station she meets Police Captain Pierre Perdrix (Swann Arlaud) who explains that the town has a problem with revolutionary nudists, as if that’s as natural as the sun coming up every day. Meanwhile there are tanks in the street because there’s about to be a WWII reenactment with Nazis. But since she has nowhere to go and everything she owned was in the car because she was “migrating,” she crashes with Pierre and his odd family. Think Wes Anderson only less stylized. And it’s a given that Pierre and Juliette will end up together.

Quickie Review: Burning Ghost (Vif-argent)

When we meet Juste (Thimotée Robart) he’s wandering on the train tracks somewhere in Paris, confused. He stops at a small house and the man there recognizes what is happening and tells him where he needs to go for help. Then flash forward 10 years and Juste is still wandering about Paris, only he’s not confused any longer. And it slowly becomes clear that he sees dead people, and he’s got a job helping them cross over by sharing a strong memory from their lives with him. And that’s pretty much all he does. That is until a young woman named Agathe (Judith Chemla) starts following him one day. And when he confronts her, it seems they had a brief, and for her memorable, connection back before he left the normal world. And so begins their otherworldly love affair.

Review: The Truth (La Vérité)

Director Hirokazu Koreeda’s follow-up to his award winning Shoplifters could not be more different. No longer set in his home country Japan, The Truth is a mother-daughter drama set in a lovely Paris house where an aging actress and her grown daughter come together for the launch of the mother’s memoirs. That the mother is played by the inestimable Catherine Deneuve and the daughter by the equally talented Juliette Binoche makes it a pleasure to watch, despite its fairly well-trodden storyline.

Review: Deerskin (Le daim)

This has to be one of the oddest movies I’ve seen in a long while! It’s from Quentin Dupieux the writer/director who brought us Rubber. In case you missed that one, it was about a tire named Robert that terrorizes a desert community. This time it all starts with the purchase of a deerskin fringe jacket. And it’s an equally absurd premise that somehow sustains itself for just over an hour, thanks in large part to the central character Georges being played by the marvelous Jean Dujardin (The Artist.)