While the Animated shorts left a little to be desired this year (with one or two notable exceptions), the Live Action nominees were outstanding across the board, to the point where I’m finding it very difficult to pick a favorite. They’re pretty much all Oscar-worthy, feature some great writing & acting, run the gamut of emotions and are even a little on the twisted side. Let’s take a look at the nominees and try to figure out which one will take home the gold....
THE CONFESSION -- This one is crazy. It’s the story of a boy who is scheduled to make his first confession, but he's concerned because he doesn't really have anything on his conscience worth confessing. His best friend comes up with a seemingly-harmless prank to help him out -- but things go horribly, tragically, shockingly awry. I can't really say any more... other than that this film was like a kick in the gut... and then another one, and another one. A tremendous film that I like to think of as the origin story of a future religious sociopath. Yikes.
WISH 143 -- A teenage cancer patient with a short time left to live is granted a dying wish by the British equivalent of the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Unfortunately, they cannot provide what he really wants: Quite simply, to get laid. Poor David doesn't want to die without having known how it feels to roll around with a naked woman and he goes to great lengths to make this happen, from placing a misguided newspaper ad to staging an elaborate hospital escape. Will an understanding priest, an ex-girlfriend and/or a friendly prostitute help him in his quest? This film is as poignant as it is hilarious -- considering the subject matter, those of you in Oscar pools might consider putting your money on this one.
NA WEWE -- In Central Africa, a tour bus carrying a group of ordinary citizens is stopped by a band of Hutu rebels. The passengers are lined up and the rebels attempt to figure out whether each person is a member (by blood, if not ideology) of the opposing Tutsis. What ensues is sort of an Abbott & Costello / "Who's on First?" take on the horror, confusion and madness of the Rwandan genocide. Wouldn't be surprised to see this unique, frightening, darkly comic look at a crazy situation strike a chord with the Academy voters.
THE CRUSH -- A boy named Ardal is madly in love with his grade school teacher, the luminous Miss Purdy. He gives her a toy ring, which she accepts, and marks their wedding date in his ten-year forward planner. But when Miss Purdy later reveals that she has gotten engaged to her real-life boyfriend, who happens to be a douchebag, Ardal decides he's not going down without a fight. He challenges the amused boyfriend to a duel in the handball court after school -- and that's when things get crazy. I can say no more other than that I watched this movie with a combined look of slack-jawed astonishment and heart-soaring glee on my face. I'd be surprised if this wins, but I'm kinda leaning towards it as my personal favorite....
GOD OF LOVE -- This black-and-white, noir-satire romantic comedy tells the story of Raymond Goodfellow, a lounge singer / master dart thrower who is in love with Kelly, his band’s cute drummer, and prays for her to return his affections. One day, he receives a mysterious package filled with darts that have the power to make a person fall in love with the next person they see for six hours... after which time, all bets are off. After testing one with great effect on a band mate, naturally he decides to use one on Kelly (who is actually in love with his other band mate and best friend Fozzie). For those magical six hours, Raymond & Kelly have the time of their lives... but it just doesn't stick. Will Raymond continue to stick her with a magic dart every six hours for the rest of their lives to ensure her requited love -- or will he learn a lesson about the nature of "the thunderbolt" and, perhaps, discover a new purpose for his own life? This installment from Brooklyn, USA, may be a little too quirky/hipster-ish for its own good, but it is nevertheless some funny, enjoyable stuff.
So, in conclusion:
I'M ROOTING FOR: The Crush
WILL PROBABLY WIN: Wish 143 or Na Wewe
Here’s hoping that I get to see the Documentary Shorts sometime between now and next Sunday. Oscar Night is almost upon us!!