Oscar Shorts: Air Date Feb. 14, 2020
Promoting special presentations of Oscar nominated shorts every year means KUNR widens the chance for viewers to see nominees for three categories that--in the past-- rarely showed up on big screens; that in turn means listeners knowledgeably hiss or cheer when presenters announce the winners at the Academy Awards show.
This year I like all the competitors but found it easy to predict the victors, each featuring upbeat notes. With animated shorts, I accurately predicted a win for the touching Hair Love, which gets laughs from a father’s confused efforts to replicate the right “do” for his daughter’s unruly mop. Granted, the cute rapport between a dog and cat in Pixar’s Kitbull made me want to go out and adopt a pet, but Hair Love provides a from-the-heart human dynamic that tugs at emotions.
I loved and rooted for three of the live action shorts, knowing only one would win. I felt particularly drawn to the smooth look of night’s victor, The Neighbor’s Window with its final switch on expectations. But I also adored the ultimately feel good ending of The Nefta Football Club featuring the kind of twist that the writer O’Henry specialized in. And, without any upbeat finale, Brotherhood blends strong, surprising story telling qualities with valid insights about human nature. All the live action shorts provided a significantly competitive round of choices.
Lastly, the documentary short category offered a couple of projects showing optimism and forward progress. By focusing on a married couple adapting to the harsh changes resulting from fleeing their homeland, Run Walk, Cha Chaputs an positive spin on life’s challenges. A similar concept involving hope comes with the Oscar winner, Learning to Skateboard in a War Zone (If You’re a Girl), which reflects the activity’s exuberance. The nature of telling stories without using much time means conflict often rules, and many projects feel frustratingly depressing.
This year’s winners demonstrate that upbeat endings certainly help when it comes to voting for favorites.