Review: 2015 Live Action Oscar Nominated Short Films


Here's our take on every film in the 2015 Live Action and Animated Oscar Nominated Shorts programs opening today at Keystone Art Cinema.

The Documentary program, which also opens today, includes the brave and excruciating Our Curse, a 2014 Heartland winner about parents/filmmakers trying to keep alive their baby born with a disorder popularly known as Ondine's curse. Named after the mythical water nymph, the all-too-real affliction sounds like something out of a fairy tale: The cursed stop breathing when they fall asleep. Alas, our local Landmark outpost has opted out of screening the Documentary program, also distributed by ShortsHD and playing at other Midwestern theaters; you might ask for it by name at the ticket booth. 

The Live Action and Animated shorts are presented in separate, feature-length programs, with, as usual, a few extras added to the Animated program to make it worth the prices of a ticket. Check out Ed's reviews of the Animated shorts films here; below are the five Live Action nominees. —Scott


★★★★ (out of five)


Dir. Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis

A young Israeli woman (Sarah Adler) at an airport is asked by a driver to hold his name placard for a few minutes. The man whose name is on the card, a Danish music researcher (Ulrich Thomsen), walks up and, instead of explaining the situation, the woman impulsively pretends to be his driver. The conversations between the two as they travel are low key, believable and consistently interesting.

Boogaloo and Graham


United Kingdom

Dir. Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney

In 1978 Belfast, two young brothers are given a pair of chicks by their father. Guess what they name them? Cut to later, when the adorable chicks are now two big, loud chickens and mom and dad are determined to get them out of the house. The story of family is raucous and charming, with a surprising, satisfying wrap up.

Butter Lamp (La Lampe au Beurre de Yak)



Dir. Hu Wei and Julien Féret

In a remote part of Tibet, a photographer and his assistant take photos of the local people, changing the backdrop from time to time. That's the whole movie. It's interesting watching the dynamics within the various groups, but there's not enough time to get more than a passing glance at anybody.




Dir. Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger

An Afghan girl (Nissa Kashani) is in Zurich to wire some money to her family, but they won't let her do it without a valid ID. She turns to a local girl (Cheryl Graf) for help. The film does a nice job of taking you in a standard direction, then veering to a richer one. Satisfying.

The Phone Call


United Kingdom

Dir. Mat Kirkby and James Lucas

Sally Hawkins plays a worker for a British crisis line. Jim Broadbent supplies the voice of her caller, a despondent older man grieving the death of his wife, who says he's taken a lot of pills. As should come as no surprise, the acting is exceptional. The story, however, is routine fare. Well done, but I wanted something more.


Ed Johnson-Ott has been NUVO's lead film critic for more than 20 years.

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