There was a time when only film festival attendees had a chance to see the Oscar-nominated short films, but in recent years the films have become much more widely accessible. Anybody looking to finalize Oscar ballots can check out the live-action and animated shorts on the big screen this weekend.
The animated program is a bit disappointing, and the best short is the one that viewers are most likely to have already seen: Get a Horse!, which played in front of Disney’s Frozen. The clever, self-referential Mickey Mouse short is an impressive combination of old-school and modern animation, mimicking classic Mickey cartoons while also presenting a modernized 3D version. The rest of the animated shorts are long on lovely images and short on compelling stories or characters.
The live-action program is stronger, including one movie, the French drama Just Before Losing Everything, that could easily compete with the feature Best Picture nominees. It’s an incredibly tense look at one woman’s efforts to take her children and leave her abusive husband, with a story that unfolds subtly but powerfully. Finnish comedy Do I Have to Take Care of Everything? and British sci-fi short The Voorman Problem are both built around simple punch lines, but they deliver them effectively. In a short film, that’s more than enough.
Oscar Shorts February 28-March 2; Friday & Saturday, 2 & 7 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; $10; Century Suncoast.