“Don’t just go with whatever the front-runners are because they’re usually just whatever came first alphabetically,” Zach Laws warns about predicting the Oscar winners for the short film categories. The 15 nominated shorts are notoriously hard to find or even research, so I gathered Laws and our fellow Gold Derby contributors Charlie Bright and Tony Ruiz for a slugfest (watch the video above) to offer our genius tips in picking these three categories. “Take a little bit of antidepressant medication before you watch these movies,” Laws advises after declaring, “This is the most depressing crop of shorts films I’ve ever seen in my life!” Ruiz concurs, “I need a hug after watching these movies!”
“It might win just by being the least depressing of the bunch,” Ruiz says about “Marguerite,” the Best Live Action Short frontrunner in Gold Derby’s odds about an aging and ailing woman, but our group is higher on the Oscar hopes (and quality) of racially-charged “Skin,” the only American nominee. Laws muses, “It raises some really interesting questions, but I’m not quite sure how successfully it answers them or raises them for that matter and just watching the movie, it made me so uncomfortable and nauseous in ways that I couldn’t have imagined and then I watched the rest of them,” referring to the remaining nominees “Detainment,” “Fauve” and “Mother,” which feature children being abducted, dismembered and/or murdered. Laws remarks, “It’s like, ‘Oh my god, really?’ What is wrong with the people that voted for these movies? Have they been through some kind of trauma?”
Re-enactment-heavy “Black Sheep” leads the Best Documentary Short odds, but our group is wholly dismissive of its chances, instead betting on “Period. End of Sentence.” Bright explains, “This one, unlike the others, is actually very positive and by the end of this documentary, you’re smiling and you can’t say that about the other ones.” We deem its chief rival to be “End Game” from Netflix. Ruiz explains about its hospice care setting, “It’s the most identifiable because it’s something that everybody is going to have to go through or maybe has gone through with loved ones.”
There is more levity in Best Animated Short, which Laws assesses as “a pretty easy call” for odds-leader “Bao” from Pixar, although we feel that “Late Afternoon,” about an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s disease, is actually in the upset position, contrary to its last-place ranking in the odds. Laws elaborates about “Bao,” “It does that Pixar thing that they’re animated shorts usually do and it’s why they usually win this category, which is that they just lob it right down the middle. They’re cute and they’re also poignant and very concise as well.
Will you take our advice or stick with the front-runners? Make your Oscar predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until the ceremony on February 24. And join in the debate taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forum.