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Mainstream Chick’s Oscar Picks for 2021

Let’s just go ahead and make it official – my picks for the 93rd annual Academy Awards being handed out Sunday, April 25, 2021 after a long COVI-Delay. I discussed them all with my cinematic nemesis Charlie Juhl on a recent episode of “The Cinema Clash.” But just in case you missed it (wine wager and all) and/or haven’t filled out your own ballot yet… this may or may not help your chances of winning the remote office pool! I don’t know the order in which the awards will be announced, so I’m following the Oscars 2021 Play Along Ballot, except for Best Picture, which I’m saving for last. So, without further ado…

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: Quo Vadis, Aida?

Talk about a film that’s hard to watch! This Oscar nominee from Bosnia and Herzegovina tells the horrifying story of the days leading up to the 1995 massacre of 8,000+ Bosnian Muslim men and boys from the town of Srebrenica. The central character is Aida (Jasna Duricic), a school teacher from the town and also a translator for the UN peacekeeping forces there during the wars that tore apart the former Yugoslavia. When the Bosnian Serbian army rolls into town, despite the fact that the United Nations had declared it a UN safe area two years earlier, the Muslim citizens flee to the nearby UN camp looking for shelter and safety. Aida’s husband and sons are among those fleeing. But as she can see from inside, the UN troops are left high and dry by the UN command in New York, and they’re outgunned by Serbian Gen. Ratko Mladic (Boris Isakovic) and his army. And as the time ticks by Aida does everything she can to save her family, though if you know the history, you know it cannot end well.

Review: Corpus Christi (Boze Cialo)

Based on a true story, Corpus Christi is the tale of 20-year-old Daniel (Bartosz Bielenia) who, just sprung from a violent juvenile detention center and heading for a new job, decides to visit the local church and stumbles into becoming the new priest for the small Polish town. It’s the story of his redemption, but also that of his new flock, a community healing from a tragedy that has divided them against themselves. Once he’s committed to the ruse as the impostor Father Tomasz, Daniel slips into the cassock and wings it well enough to fool the whole town. It’s not a con, so much as a calling. And you’re just wondering how long he can get away with it.

Mini-reviews: 2020 Oscar-Nominated Short Films

If you’re planning to watch the Academy Awards this weekend, chances are you haven’t had a chance to catch the shorts. I mean, who does? Unless you’re lucky enough to go to a lot of the festivals where they’re shown or search out the few that are streaming online, you only have a week in the theaters before you have to fill in a ballot at your Oscar party. And how are you supposed to win that pool without a bit of help?

There are three categories – Live Action, Animation, and Documentary. And short is really a misnomer for some of them. They can be up to 40 minutes and several of them are right at the limit. But I always enjoy watching them, and this year’s were a more diverse selection than the last few years. So here’s my yearly plea to theater owners out there: “Please start showing a short before the feature!”

And here’s my rundown/cheatsheet for Oscar night:

Review: Oscar Nominated Short Films 2019

I always look forward to watching the shorts. (Short being 40 minutes or less, so some of them aren’t all that short.) This year’s crop had clear winners and losers for me in each of the categories. Some of them felt like films I’d already seen. And overall, I think there have been stronger years for shorts.  However, they’re always worth seeing.  And as I do each year, I will renew my call for theaters to start showing them before the features.

Trailers to this year’s shorts can be found here.

Live Action (Short Subject) Nominees

This is also a hard category, because the films are all so different, and the art of telling a story in a short time without either rushing it or shortchanging the narrative creates its own sort of film making. There’s dancing, and singing, and interrogation, and infatuation, and this year’s theme of the Islamic immigrant/refugee is included. They’re funny and romantic and sad and surprising. It’s really a great bunch of shorts. I am sure they will land their filmmakers a meeting or two with people who can help them and their careers along. See them if you can. They’re in theaters now and will certainly be streaming later. And once more I will plead with theaters to start showing shorts before the features. Please!

(Trailers for all the films below.)

Animation (Short Subject) Nominees

The Animated shorts category is always a hard one for me to judge. Will the Academy members go with the best, most amazing animation, or will it be about telling a great story? Since I don’t really know how hard it is to create these films (I’m assuming it ain’t easy), I’m going with the power of story to keep my attention. Without doubt all the films’ nominees this year are fabulous animators.  Since one of them is from Pixar, that is a given. But are the stories worthy of the animation? Or are these animators using their films as calling cards, looking for a step up to features?  I don’t have a clue, but here are my takes on the nominees for the 2017 Oscar.

Documentary (Short Subject) nominees

This has got to be the toughest group of the shorts to watch. They’re usually a lot more diverse, but this year, with one feel-good exception, they are all about people suffering. Three are about the War in Syria and it’s effects on the people there, and sadly none of them points a way forward to peace. But they give you a front row seat to the horrifying toll of the war there on real Syrians trying to cope with the day to day, and the reason so many are fleeing their homes. All of these films are very deserving of their nominations.

Below are brief reviews and the trailers, and for a couple of them, the whole film is available here. I highly recommend watching them all.

BRING PLENTY OF TISSUES!

Oscar Nominees — Documentary [Feature]

I’ve seen all of the nominees this year, thanks to attending the AFI DOCS and Full Frame festivals and Netflix. If you’re filling out your Oscar ballot, here are my somewhat edited down reviews of the nominees. It was a great year for docs, though I think they missed a few, but I’m sure they had a hard time whittling down the field. And the nominees are…

Trailers for all the films are at the end of this post.