Once again, Oscar-watchers will have the chance to see the nominated live-action and animated short films before the ceremony this weekend, playing at three local theaters after an early run at AMC Town Square last week.
The live-action program is refreshingly devoid of the kind of glum social-issue dramas that the Academy tends to reward, and the highlights are sweet, low-key stories. “Parvaneh,” about the unlikely friendship between two Zurich teenage girls, one an illegal immigrant from Afghanistan, takes several turns that seem to be heading toward clichéd misery, only to avoid every narrative pitfall. “Butter Lamp” travels the world in a single static shot, as an itinerant portrait photographer takes pictures of families in remote Tibet, posing them in front of backdrops of tourist locales in a subtle but effective commentary on globalization.
The Disney short “Feast,” which played in front of Big Hero 6, leads the animated program, but its story of a hungry dog is a little slight and cutesy, especially compared to recent Disney nominees “Paperman” and “Get a Horse!” Chances are it won’t bring Disney a win this year; instead look for the beautiful and moving “The Bigger Picture,” about two brothers dealing with an aging mother, to be the top contender. Its mix of painted and stop-motion animation is creative and striking. The Norwegian short “Me and My Moulton” has an opposite visual style, bright and simple, but its funny coming-of-age story about a young girl and her eccentric family makes it just as memorable.
Oscar-Nominated Short Films February 20-22, times vary, $10. Century Suncoast, Century South Point, AMC Town Square.