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January 15, 2020
Still from Live Action Short nominee “The Neighbors’ Window”

Short Film Oscar Nominations 2020: Our Initial Reactions

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What This Year’s Nominations Says About The Year In Short Films

Another wild year of nominations in every category, with all three short film categories including a mix of absolute surprises and films we predicted could go all the way. Now that the dust has settled and the final five films have been announced, we think that this might be one of the most open races in modern history. While past years usually had a runaway hit from Pixar or a standout documentary, the 2020 Oscars race looks to be as tight as ever. Even with this in mind, we’ve done our best to make sense of what this year’s nominees means for the medium at large.

Non-Studio Shorts Are Alive And Well

One of the more heartening parts of this year’s race is to see just how many great production and distribution platforms have films in the race this year. Everyone from MTV (St. Louis Superman) to the New York Times (Walk, Run, Cha-Cha) are up for Best Documentary Short Subject. Meanwhile, one of our favorite independent producers, Field of Vision, also has a film in the final cut (In The Absence). Even traditional studio backed films like Hair Love and Kitbull were equal parts personal and idiosyncratic. No matter what the budget was on a short from this year, you can’t help but feel the passion and the craft shine through.

 

Festival Momentum Still Matters

Any festival win is a valuable breakthrough for a filmmaker, but when a short film starts to gain a string of festival honors, you know you’ve got something special. All year long we’ve been following festival darlings like Brotherhood and Daughter, pointing to their success as evidence of their Oscar potential. This year also proved that short films didn’t have to wait until the fall to have their premieres. Both Learning To Skateboard In A Warzone (If You’re A Girl) and The Neighbors’ Window started off in late Spring at Tribeca. This year cemented it — festival runs matter more than ever for a short film!

 

Online Critics Do Make A Difference

We can’t help but notice how many of these shorts have already had a life of their own online. Whether it’s the tearjerker Sister finding support by Short of the Week or four different Vimeo Staff Picks making the list, it’s clear that the Academy voters do take cues from what the online critics’ communities have to say. That’s why we at Miniflix feel so strongly about curating short films — it has the power to help deserving filmmakers get the chance to hoist up that famous golden statue.

Amazing Diversity In Short Film

While the feature categories had another disappointing showing for females and people of color, the short film categories did a great job of representing a multitude of perspectives. Among all three categories, female filmmakers were in the majority (something that sadly can’t be said for the Best Picture or Best Director categories). These films truly come from all over the world, offering unique perspectives and helping keep this awards show one of global interest.

Now, we just have to wait a few more weeks for the winners (February 9th on ABC).

Here’s the full list of short film nominees:

 

Documentary Short Subject:

In The Absence, Yi Seung-Jun and Gary Byung-Seok Kam

Learning To Skateboard In A Warzone (If You’re A Girl), Carol Dysinger and Elena Andreicheva

Life Overtakes Me, John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson

St. Louis Superman, Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan

Walk Run Cha-Cha, Laura Nix and Colette Sandstedt

Animated Short:

Dcera (Daughter), Daria Kashcheeva

Hair Love, Matthew A. Cherry and Karen Rupert Toliver

Kitbull, Rosana Sullivan and Kathrun Hendrickson

Memorable, Bruno Collet and Jean-Francois Le Corre

Sister, Siqi Song

Best Live Action Short:

Brotherhood, Meryam Joobeur and Maria Gracia Turgeon

Nefta Football Club, Yves Piat and Damien Megherbi

The Neighbors’ Window, Marshall Curry

Saria, Bryan Buckley and Matt Lefebvre

A Sister, Delphine Girard

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