Reviews ranked from Best to Worst from my POV:
“Aya” (France/Israel): directed by Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis
What starts as a cute little film about a whimsical act becomes something MUCH more intimate. I could’ve watched another hour of this wonderfully written, directed and performed film. To me it belongs in the same discussion with “On the Line” (2007) and “The Door” (2009) as amongst the best Shorts ever recognized with a nomination (neither of which won, btw).
“The Phone Call” (UK): directed by Mat Kirkby
Starring Sally Hawkins and the voice of Jim Broadbent, this is my bet to win the Oscar based on star power and accessibility to the Academy’s convalescent crowd. Which is not to say this piece about a moment in the life of a Crisis Line office isn’t worthy. It’s very good – but very predictable.
“Butter Lamp” (China/France): directed by Wei hu
There’s always one short that teaches you something about another culture in the most entertaining way. This strange little slice of life about a traveling photographer in the high mountains of Tibet is that film. It has no shot, but, boy, is it good…and REALLY, REALLY interesting.
“Boogaloo and Graham” (Northern Ireland): directed by Michael Lennox
A sweet confection about growing up during the Troubles, this is the other front-runner to win. Kids, chickens, goofy parents and a movie star in the cast. It’s cute, but that’s all it is. Worse, it could’ve taken place in any modern city in any modern time, so there is no real point in utilizing the IRA/Ulster angle…not for me anyway. Nonetheless, it is an engaging and well-executed short film.
“Parvaneh” (Switzerland): directed by Talkhon Hamzavi
The weak link of the set, this is an MFA film and it feels like it. A combination coming-of-age/fish-out-of-water tale about the universality of friendship between an Afghan ex-pat teen and a native Swiss teen, it fails to break new ground or introduce an original voice.
Originally written on 2/9/2015
Trailers for all below (and you can see most of them on YouTube in their full glory) :