Predicting the winner of the 2022 Oscar-nominated shorts
I’ve been handicapping Oscar-nominated short subjects since 2013, and over the years my predictions have often been spectacularly inaccurate. Last year, however, I finally managed to get one when I identified Two distant strangers as the probable winner of the Live Action category. Results!
Not content to sit on these meager laurels, this year I’m going to do something I’ve never done before: Boldly choose a winner from all three short topic categories (available to stream via Shorts TV) instead just the two I’ve tried in previous years. So sit down, take notes, and enjoy my eventual humiliation on Oscar night!
Documentaries of 2022 are, frankly, a pretty weak bunch. Netflix is represented by two nominees, Audible (a feel-good documentary about a deaf high school football team) and Three songs for Benazir (a winding examination of life in an Afghan refugee camp), while The New York Times contributes queen of basketballan interesting but brief look at the life of Lusia Harris, the first woman drafted by the NBA.
drive me home highlights the growing problem of homelessness in three of America’s major cities (including San Francisco), while Bay Area resident Jay Rosenblatt When we were bullies — a thoughtful revisit of a schoolyard encounter long ago — is my favorite of the five nominees. I bet on Queenhowever: Harris died in January, and the Academy has a well-established predilection for inspirational sports shorts (e.g., the execrable Dear basketball).
The Live Action category is stronger, with only one film – the absurdly honeyed Danish drama In my thoughts – clearly out of the race. At Riz Ahmed The long goodbye starts out promising but goes beyond its fair premise (unless the English Defense League has really started committing summary executions in the streets, in which case I’ll correct myself), while Kyrgyzstan Ala Kachuu (Take and Run) is an interesting “problematic picture” about forced marriage that might have worked better as a feature film.
Poland The dress casts a painful look at the loneliness of a hotel housekeeper who mistakes the fleeting kindness of a moment for something more meaningful, but I put my money—well, my worn reputation, at least—on Please waitrazor-sharp from director KD Davila, black mirrorstylish look at criminal justice in the digital age. The film’s satirical depiction of America’s dehumanized and dehumanizing “corrections industry” cuts close to the bone, deftly negotiating the line between absurdity and verisimilitude.
I saved the best for last. This year’s Animation category is very strong and includes four worthy contenders; unfortunately, this is the fifth film that will probably walk away with the Oscar.
Although I appreciated the artistry of The wiper (which appears partly rotoscoped), his commentary on 21st century love is unlikely to appeal to older voters. And while BoxballetThe story of the relationship between a ballerina and a punch-drunk pugilist is quite charming, her Russian origins won’t do her any favors.
My personal vote would go to Bestie – a disturbing depiction of Chile’s recent history told via stop-motion porcelain figurines – but the Academy isn’t ready to award a film depicting cross-species sex. Likewise, Canada art business is a hilarious look at an obsessive Welsh family and their unlikely encounters with Lenin, a book titled Taxidermy at home for children, and plastic surgery. I loved it but it’s way too edgy for Academy voters.
That leaves the prohibitive favorite, Aardman’s robin robin. While his fellow nominees are not suitable for children, robin robin is a classic children’s animation featuring a cute yet paper-thin story about fluffy anthropomorphic animals that sing and dance. With Gillian Anderson and Richard E. Grant providing voice talent, there’s absolutely no way to lose. Prove me wrong, Academy!
John Seal has lived in Oakland since 1981 and has written for Berkeleyside since 2009. He spends his free time watching and reading movies.