There are no handy publicity campaigns to introduce you to the five live-action shorts and five animated shorts nominated for Oscars, but I can help. Here’s what’s in the running — and which are my favorites. Then it’s your turn to take a look — in theaters, on demand, or on iTunes — and pick your own. (As for Oscar odds, you’re asking the wrong bookie.)
In a generally unexciting live-action field, Na Wewe, by Belgian filmmaker Ivan Goldschmidt, gets my vote, since it’s the only entry with any storytelling ambition or curiosity about real people in the big world. Set in Burundi in 1994, when civil war raged between Hutus and Tutsis, it’s an admirably compact story about identity that’s both tense and darkly funny. (The title means ”you too? in Kirundi.) Among the other, more navel-gazing entries is God of Love, a self-consciously cool-looking, Brooklyn-y, New Wave-y hipster love story by Student Academy Award winner Luke Matheny, who also stars as a lovelorn nightclub crooner. The Crush, by Michael Creagh, about an Irish schoolboy who’s sweet on his pretty lady teacher, insists on its own dramatic arc with little credibility to back it. Tanel Toom’s The Confession tells a wee tale of boys, first confession, and the early onset of Catholic guilt. Wish 143, by Ian Barnes, mixes humor, pathos, and a virginal teenage cancer patient who wishes he weren’t. A virgin, that is. Live-action shorts: B?