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Oscar Nominated Short Films 2018: Animation and Live Action (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

2018 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Animated and Live Action



(Estimated Running Time: 83 minutes)

Dear Basketball – Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant, USA, 5 minutes

Negative Space – Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata, France, 5 minutes

Lou – Dave Mullins and Dana Murray, USA, 7 minutes

Revolting Rhymes – Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer, UK, 29 minutes

Garden Party – Victor Caire and Gabriel Grapperon, France 7 minutes

Dear Basketball: Played like a love letter, “Dear Basketball” captured the love and dedication of the sport – from the early ages of childhood to the retiring legends. The animation was stunningly sketched, and the original score by John Williams paired with the flowing dialogue, was enough to bring a viewer to tears. The story was heartfelt, and both my daughter and I enjoyed it immensely.

Negative Space: This short was my daughter’s favorite.  This is a stop-motion animation using small models of clothes cut from their larger, original materials to re-create a father-son relationship through the art of packing a suitcase. The story is simple, the metaphor is strong, and the bond, perfect. When you saw where it was going, it felt like magic.

Lou: Lou is the charming spirit of the playground Lost and Found box. It is classic Disney-Pixar with lots of ironic, clever details; a bully who turns over a new leaf, and some classic childhood magic. There is nothing particularly fresh in this short, but it sure is enjoyable to watch.

Revolting Rhymes: Clocking in at 29 minutes and based on the story by Roald Dahl, this fairy tale weaves a humorous, at times irreverent, web of classic fairy tales, adding some flare and fun to the stories that we’ve all heard countless times. The animation feels mostly 2D, like the classic illustrated stories where they originated, but the main draw is in seeing Dahl’s story brought to life on the screen.

Garden Party: This short was my favorite of the set. What starts as a study of wildlife (frogs, toads and more) moving about a human’s backyard, becomes a fascinating mystery as we see the focus shift from a “morning after” scenario to a crime scene investigation. The animation is crisp and detailed, while the simple and engaging sounds of the outdoors only add to the sense of heavy mystery.


(Estimated Running Time: 97 minutes)

DeKalb Elementary – Reed Van Dyk, USA, 20 minutes

The Silent Child – Chris Overton and Rachel Shenton, UK, 20 minutes

My Nephew Emmett – Kevin Wilson, Jr., USA, 20 minutes

The Eleven O’Clock – Derin Seale and Josh Lawson, Australia, 13 minutes

Watu Wote/All of Us – Katja Benrath and Tobias Rosen, Germany, 22 minutes

DeKalb Elementary: Based on a real life 911 call placed in Georgia, “DeKalb Elementary” takes off running from the moment a man walks into the school with a rifle. He makes it clear to the staff member helping in the office that he is not there to hurt the kids – but is there to shoot police officers. He instructs her to call 911 and what follows is terrifying and captivating. Through absolute empathy and composure, the staff member manages to talk with the shooter and negotiates a bargain before anyone gets hurt while remaining on the 911 call. The film is timely, intense, and touching. This was a two-tissue short for me.

The Silent Child: “The Silent Child” tells the story of Libby, a four-year-old deaf girl, living with her busy family, struggling in silence with little to no ability to communicate. The family has hired a woman, Joanne, to provide care for Libby while the family goes about with their lives. Joanne intervenes by teaching Libby sign language and opens her world. In two poignant moments of silence, first around the dinner table, and second, Libby’s reaction to an oral spelling test in her new mainstream school, this film succeeds in its goal to demonstrate the need to break the stigma of sign language use and to press that with sign language and support, a deaf child can fully succeed to any place in life. This was a one-tissue short, making me a bit more aghast than tearful particularly at the parents’ unwillingness to see the positive changes in Libby with her improved communication with sign language.

My Nephew Emmett: My daughter recognized this story from the title and setting block:  Mississippi, 1955. In fact, it was a story that they were talking about this very week in her American Studies class. While the story is well known, this short manages to shine a light on the utter helplessness felt by Emmett Till’s uncle from the moment that he is told that there was a story going around that his young visiting nephew had whistled at a white man’s wife. This was the Deep South during the Jim Crow days and as history has shown, this story did not end well. This film led me to once again read up on this horrific story from America’s history. No tissues for this film, just rage.

The Eleven O’Clock: This was the humorous short of the five films and felt reminiscent of an Abbot and Costello skit. “The Eleven O’Clock” introduces us to a psychiatrist and his office. The eleven-o’clock patient is being seen for his delusions of grandeur that make him think that he is a psychiatrist. The dialogue was clever and kept us wondering which man was the real doctor.

Watu Wote/All of Us: I watched this film twice. The first time, I watched it without my daughter and sobbed mercilessly at the end. It felt so important that I had my daughter watch it with me the next day. Based on a true story, “Watu Wote” tells the story of a 31-hour bus ride, the building conflict between the Muslim and Christian people living on the Kenya/Somalia border, and the ability to overcome these differences when faced with crisis. I hope that this is a film shared in classrooms and brought more mainstream for viewers. This was a whole box of tissues film for me and was our family’s top pick of the five.

Bonnie Paul and Leni Paul

Copyright ©2018 All rights reserved. Posted: February 9, 2018.


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