The 52nd Academy Awards held in 1980 showcased a remarkable collection of Short Film nominees that demonstrated the power of storytelling within the concise format. From captivating animations to thought-provoking documentaries and gripping live-action dramas, the 1980 Oscars Short Film category celebrated the best and brightest emerging talents in the film industry.
Each film offered a unique perspective on the world, showcasing exceptional creativity, technical expertise, and the ability to evoke profound emotions within a limited runtime. In this article, we will delve into the Best Short Film nominees of the 52nd Academy Awards and explore what made each of them stand out in their respective categories.
These extraordinary works exemplify the incredible potential of short films to captivate audiences, provoke thought, and leave a lasting impact. Join us as we celebrate the artistry and storytelling brilliance of the filmmakers who made their mark on the world of cinema in 1980.
Animated Short Films
Every Child, directed by Derek Lamb, is a beautiful and thought-provoking animated short film that was nominated for an Academy Award in 1980. The film tells the story of a young boy who is born into a world full of suffering and injustice. As he grows up, he witnesses the many ways in which people hurt each other and the planet, but he also sees moments of kindness and hope that give him the strength to carry on.
The main character in the film is the boy, who is depicted as a curious and compassionate child with a deep love for nature. Through his eyes, we see the world around him come to life in stunning animation that blends hand-drawn and stop-motion techniques. The animation style is simple yet incredibly effective, with a muted color palette and minimalist designs that allow the story to take center stage.
One of the most striking aspects of Every Child is how the animation style contributes to the storytelling. The use of stop-motion animation, in particular, gives the film a tactile quality that makes the world feel more real and tangible. The scenes of the boy playing in nature, for example, are especially memorable because of how the grass, leaves, and trees move and sway in the wind.
There are several moments in the film that stand out as particularly impactful. One scene that stuck with me is when the boy witnesses a group of men cutting down a tree. As the tree falls, the ground shakes and the birds fly away in terror. It’s a powerful moment that highlights the destructive impact humans can have on nature.
Another scene that stands out is when the boy sees a group of people protesting for their rights. The scene is depicted in silhouette, with the protesters holding signs and chanting for change. It’s a poignant reminder that even in the face of oppression and injustice, there is always hope for a better future.
Overall, Every Child is a beautiful and moving film that I highly recommend. While it deals with heavy themes like environmental destruction and social injustice, it does so in a way that is accessible and engaging for audiences of all ages. I think this film would be particularly appealing to anyone interested in animation or environmentalism, but I believe anyone can appreciate the beauty and message of this film.
Dream Doll is a whimsical and visually stunning animated short film that tells the story of a lonely toymaker who creates a beautiful doll and falls in love with her. Directed by Bob Godfrey and Zlatko Grgić, the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1979.
The film begins with a toymaker who is unhappy with his life and longs for companionship. He decides to create a doll that is so perfect that it will come to life and be his perfect partner. The toymaker works tirelessly to create the doll, and when she is finally finished, he is delighted to see her come to life.
The rest of the film follows the toymaker and the doll as they explore the world together, encountering various obstacles and challenges along the way. The animation style is whimsical and playful, with bright colors and fluid movements that bring the characters to life.
One of the most striking aspects of the animation is the way that it uses light and shadow to create depth and texture. The characters and backgrounds are rendered in a way that makes them feel almost three-dimensional, and the use of shadows and highlights adds a sense of depth and complexity to the visuals.
One scene that stands out is when the toymaker and the doll are chased by a group of angry villagers. The animation in this scene is fast-paced and frenetic, with the characters running and dodging obstacles in a way that feels both thrilling and humorous.
Overall, Dream Doll is a delightful and charming animated short film that is sure to appeal to audiences of all ages. The animation style is a perfect match for the whimsical and playful story, and the characters are lovable and engaging. I would highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys animated films, or who is looking for a lighthearted and enjoyable viewing experience.
It’s So Nice to Have a Wolf Around the House
It’s So Nice to Have a Wolf Around the House is a charming and whimsical animated short film directed by Paul Fierlinger that was nominated for an Academy Award in 1980. The film follows the story of a family who decides to take in a wolf as a pet. Initially, the family is apprehensive about having a wild animal in their home, but they soon come to appreciate the wolf’s unique personality and the joy he brings to their lives.
The animation style in It’s So Nice to Have a Wolf Around the House is a standout feature of the film. Fierlinger employs a unique technique called “paint-on-glass animation,” which involves painting directly onto glass sheets and filming the images as they are manipulated and moved. This gives the film a dreamlike quality and a sense of fluidity and movement that is both captivating and mesmerizing.
The film’s main characters are the family who takes in the wolf, as well as the wolf himself, who becomes a beloved member of the household. Each character is well-defined and has their own personality and quirks, making them endearing and relatable to the audience.
One of the standout scenes in the film is when the wolf is first introduced to the family’s cat. The two animals have an initial standoff but soon become playful friends, with the cat riding on the wolf’s back and the wolf playfully nipping at the cat’s tail. This scene is a perfect example of the film’s lighthearted and joyful tone.
Overall, It’s So Nice to Have a Wolf Around the House is a delightful and heartwarming film that is sure to appeal to audiences of all ages. The unique animation style and well-crafted characters make for an engaging and memorable viewing experience. I highly recommend this film to anyone looking for a charming and uplifting story.
Live Action Short Films
Board and Care
Board and Care is a touching 1979 live-action short film directed by Sarah Pillsbury and Ron Ellis. The film is a heartwarming story that takes place in a home for disabled individuals and explores the lives of the residents as well as the staff who care for them.
The story follows the daily routines of the residents and their caretakers in the home. It highlights the challenges they face and the moments of joy they experience. The film’s main character is a young woman named Terry who is bound to a wheelchair due to her spinal cord injury. Her story is told through her interactions with the other residents and staff members.
The film’s visual style is simple yet effective, with an emphasis on natural lighting and the use of handheld cameras to create a sense of intimacy. The animation style is minimalistic, with simple drawings and sketches used to illustrate key moments in the film. The animation adds an extra layer of depth to the storytelling, helping to convey the emotions and inner thoughts of the characters.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Terry is getting ready for bed and has a conversation with her caretaker, Peggy. The scene is shot in a single take and feels incredibly authentic, with the dialogue flowing naturally and the emotions of the characters palpable.
Overall, Board and Care is a beautifully crafted film that tells a powerful story of compassion and human connection. The film is a must-watch for anyone who enjoys character-driven stories and wants to gain a deeper understanding of the lives of disabled individuals. I highly recommend this film to all audiences.
Bravery in the Field
Bravery in the Field, directed by Roman Kroitor and Stefan Wodoslawsky, is a 1979 live-action film that tells the story of a young boy named Tommy who joins his father and grandfather on a hunting trip. The film takes place in the Canadian wilderness and explores themes of family, tradition, and the ethics of hunting.
The main characters of the film are Tommy, his father, and his grandfather. Tommy is a curious and adventurous boy who is eager to learn about hunting from his father and grandfather. His father is a skilled hunter who takes pride in passing down his knowledge to his son, while his grandfather is a wise and experienced hunter who values the tradition of hunting.
The visual style of the film is unique in that it incorporates both live-action footage and animated sequences. The animation style, which was created by Canadian animator Frédéric Back, adds a dreamlike quality to the film and helps to convey the inner thoughts and emotions of the characters.
One scene that stood out to me was when Tommy and his father encounter a majestic moose in the woods. The animation in this scene is particularly striking, as the moose is depicted in a stylized and almost mythical way. Another memorable moment is when Tommy has a conversation with his grandfather about the ethics of hunting and the importance of respecting nature.
Overall, Bravery in the Field is a beautifully crafted film that offers a thoughtful and nuanced exploration of hunting and its place in Canadian culture. While the film may not be for everyone, I would recommend it to those who appreciate visually stunning films that tackle complex themes. The animation style adds an extra layer of depth to the storytelling and makes this film a unique and memorable viewing experience.
Oh Brother, My Brother
Oh Brother, My Brother is a 1979 live-action film directed by Carol Lowell and Ross Lowell. The film tells the story of two brothers, Peter and Bobby, who are separated at a young age due to their parent’s divorce. Peter is raised by their father in New York City, while Bobby is raised by their mother in the countryside. As they grow older, the brothers become estranged and lead very different lives. However, when their father falls ill, they are forced to reunite and confront the issues that drove them apart.
The film’s main characters are Peter and Bobby, played by Keith Carradine and Robert Carradine, respectively. The two actors, who are real-life brothers, bring a sense of authenticity to their performances. The film also features a strong supporting cast, including Louise Fletcher as the brothers’ mother and Ned Beatty as their father.
The visual style of the film is quite striking. The filmmakers use a unique animation technique to illustrate the brothers’ memories and dreams. This animation style, which combines live-action footage with hand-drawn animation, contributes greatly to the storytelling. It helps to convey the brothers’ inner thoughts and emotions in a way that live-action footage alone could not.
One particular scene that stood out to me was a dream sequence in which Bobby imagines himself as a knight in shining armor, riding through the countryside on horseback. The animation in this scene is particularly impressive, and it helps to illustrate Bobby’s desire to escape from his mundane life.
Overall, Oh Brother, My Brother is a poignant and moving film about family and the ties that bind us. While it may not be for everyone, I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys character-driven dramas with a strong emotional core. The film’s use of animation is particularly noteworthy, and it adds an extra layer of depth to the story.
The Solar Film
The Solar Film, directed by Saul Bass and Michael Britton, is a visually stunning live-action film that was released in 1979. The film tells the story of a man named John who becomes obsessed with the idea of harnessing the power of the sun in order to provide an unlimited source of energy for the world. John works tirelessly to develop a solar energy cell, but his efforts are met with resistance from big oil companies and government officials who are afraid of losing their power and wealth.
The film’s main character, John, is played by Richard Widmark, who delivers a powerful performance as a man driven to change the world. John’s determination and passion are palpable on screen, and viewers can’t help but root for him as he faces numerous obstacles and setbacks.
One of the most striking aspects of The Solar Film is its animation style, which combines live-action footage with hand-drawn animation. The animation is used to illustrate John’s ideas and concepts, and it adds a layer of visual interest and creativity to the film. The animation style also helps to convey complex scientific concepts in a way that is accessible to viewers.
There are several scenes in The Solar Film that stood out to me. One of the most memorable scenes is when John is presenting his solar energy cell to a group of investors. The animation used during this scene is particularly effective, as it shows how the cell works and how it could revolutionize the energy industry. Another standout scene is when John is confronted by government officials who are trying to shut down his project. The tension in this scene is palpable, and viewers can feel John’s frustration and anger.
Overall, I was very impressed with The Solar Film. The combination of live-action footage and animation is innovative and visually stunning, and the story is both engaging and thought-provoking. I would highly recommend this film to anyone who is interested in science, technology, and the environment. However, I would caution that the film may not be for everyone, as it does delve into some complex scientific concepts. Nonetheless, The Solar Film is a film that deserves to be seen and appreciated by a wide audience.
Solly’s Diner is a hidden gem of a film that was released in 1979. Directed by Harry Mathias, Jay Zukerman, and Larry Hankin, this live-action movie tells the story of a group of regulars at a small diner in Los Angeles.
The plot revolves around the diner’s owner, Solly (played by Larry Hankin), and the colorful characters who frequent his establishment. From a bickering old couple to a young runaway, each character has their own story to tell, and the film weaves them together in a heartwarming and poignant way.
The animation style in Solly’s Diner is unique and adds a layer of whimsy to the storytelling. Throughout the film, the characters are depicted as cartoon versions of themselves in dream sequences and flashbacks. This style not only adds to the film’s charm but also helps to convey the characters’ emotions and memories.
One of the standout scenes in the film is when Solly reminisces about his younger days as a jazz musician. The animation style is particularly effective here, as we see Solly transform into a cartoon version of himself playing the saxophone in a smoky jazz club. It’s a beautiful moment that perfectly captures the character’s passion and nostalgia.
Overall, Solly’s Diner is a delightful film that will appeal to anyone who enjoys character-driven stories. The film’s visual style and charming cast of characters make it a unique and memorable viewing experience. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a feel-good movie that will leave them with a smile on their face.
Documentary Short Films
Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist
Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist is a 1979 documentary film directed by Saul J. Turell. The film is a tribute to the life and legacy of Paul Robeson, a prominent African-American actor, singer, and civil rights activist of the 20th century.
The film features interviews with Robeson’s family, friends, and colleagues, including Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, and Ruby Dee. It also includes archival footage of Robeson’s performances and speeches, as well as clips from his films and television appearances.
The film’s visual style is simple and straightforward, with a focus on interviews and archival footage. The cinematography is not flashy or elaborate, but it effectively captures the essence of Robeson’s life and work.
One of the standout moments in the film is when Robeson’s son, Paul Robeson Jr., reads a letter from his father to his mother, expressing his love and admiration for her. The emotional impact of this scene is heightened by the use of archival footage of Robeson singing “Ol’ Man River,” one of his most famous songs.
Another memorable scene is when Belafonte talks about the impact Robeson had on his life and career. Belafonte’s admiration and respect for Robeson are palpable, and his words serve as a powerful testament to Robeson’s influence on the civil rights movement.
Overall, Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist is a moving and informative documentary that sheds light on the life and work of a truly remarkable individual. The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by allowing Robeson’s words and performances to speak for themselves.
I highly recommend this film to anyone interested in African-American history, civil rights, or the arts. This film would be particularly appealing to those who are fans of Paul Robeson or who are interested in learning more about his life and legacy.
Dae is a powerful and thought-provoking documentary directed by Risto Teofilovski that was nominated for an Oscar in 1979. The film explores the struggles and hardships faced by a family of Macedonian shepherds as they navigate their way through the harsh and unforgiving terrain of the Balkan Mountains.
At the heart of the film are the main characters, a family of shepherds who have been living in the mountains for generations. Through their eyes, we witness the daily challenges they face as they try to eke out a living in a landscape that is as beautiful as it is harsh. The film follows their daily routines, from tending to their flocks of sheep to preparing meals over an open fire.
One of the most striking things about Dae is the way in which the film is shot. The cinematography is simply breathtaking, with Teofilovski capturing the stark beauty of the mountains in all their glory. The film is shot in a documentary style, with a handheld camera that gives the viewer a sense of being right there with the family as they go about their daily lives.
But it’s not just the stunning visuals that make Dae such a compelling film. The documentary style of the film also serves to heighten the sense of realism, making the struggles faced by the family all the more poignant. There are no contrived plot points or artificial drama here; just the raw, unfiltered reality of life in the mountains.
There are several scenes in the film that stand out as particularly powerful. One of these is a scene in which the family is forced to move their flock of sheep across a treacherous mountain pass in the dead of winter. The tension is palpable as the family struggles to keep their animals safe in the face of blinding snow and bitter winds.
Another memorable scene is one in which the family must deal with the aftermath of a wolf attack on their flock. The sheer devastation wrought by the attack is heartbreaking, and the family’s grief is palpable.
Overall, Dae is a stunning documentary that offers a unique and intimate look at the struggles faced by a family of shepherds in the Balkan Mountains. The film’s style and cinematography are simply breathtaking, and the story is both powerful and moving. I highly recommend Dae to anyone who is interested in documentaries, or who simply wants to experience the raw beauty of the mountains.
Koryo Celadon, directed by Donald A. Connolly and James R. Messenger, is a 1979 documentary that takes the audience on a journey through the history and production of the ancient Korean ceramic art form, celadon. The film explores the beauty and intricate details of celadon pottery, as well as the cultural significance it holds in Korean history.
The main characters in the film are skilled artisans who have dedicated their lives to mastering the art of celadon pottery. The film provides an in-depth look at the process of creating celadon, from the initial molding of the clay to the final firing in the kiln. The filmmakers also highlight the importance of celadon pottery in Korean culture, and how it has been passed down through generations.
The visual style of the film is stunning, with breathtaking shots of the celadon pottery and the artisans at work. The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by allowing the audience to see the intricate details of the pottery and the intense concentration of the artisans as they work. The camera work is smooth and steady, allowing the audience to fully appreciate the beauty of the celadon pottery.
One scene that stands out is when the artisans are firing the pottery in the kiln. The heat and intensity of the moment are palpable, and the audience can feel the tension as they wait for the finished product. Another memorable moment is when the artisans discuss the importance of celadon pottery in Korean culture and how it has been passed down through generations.
Overall, Koryo Celadon is a captivating and informative documentary that would be enjoyed by anyone interested in art, history, or Korean culture. The film’s stunning visuals and engaging storytelling make it a must-watch for anyone who appreciates the beauty of handmade art. I highly recommend this film to anyone looking for a unique and educational viewing experience.
Nails is a 1979 documentary directed by Phillip Borsos that tells the story of how nails are made. The film takes the audience on a journey from the iron mines of British Columbia to the nail factory where the nails are produced. Throughout the film, we meet the men and women who work in the mines and the factory, and we learn about the history of nails and their importance in our daily lives.
The visual style of Nails is striking and contributes greatly to the storytelling. The film is shot in a documentary style, with handheld cameras capturing the action as it unfolds. The cinematography is raw and gritty, giving the audience a sense of being right there in the midst of the action. The use of close-ups and extreme close-ups adds to the intimacy of the film, allowing the audience to see the emotions on the faces of the workers.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when we see the process of making a nail from start to finish. We see the raw iron being mined, the iron being transported to the factory, and the nail being formed and finished. It’s a fascinating process that most of us have never seen before, and it’s amazing to see how something as simple as a nail is made.
Another standout moment in the film is when we meet the workers in the nail factory. We see the grueling work they do, often in harsh conditions, and we learn about the pride they take in their work. It’s inspiring to see how dedicated they are to producing a quality product, and it’s a reminder of how important it is to appreciate the hard work of those who make the things we take for granted.
Overall, Nails is a fascinating documentary that offers a glimpse into a world that most of us know little about. The film’s style and cinematography are essential to the storytelling, allowing the audience to connect with the workers and the process of making nails.
I would recommend this film to anyone who is interested in history, manufacturing, or the human stories behind everyday objects. It’s a film that will make you appreciate the little things in life and the hard work that goes into making them.
Remember Me, directed by Dick Young, is a powerful and emotional documentary that explores the lives of six elderly New Yorkers as they face the challenges of aging, illness, and death. Through intimate interviews and candid footage, the film offers a poignant and heartfelt look at the struggles and joys of growing old.
The film’s subjects are all over the age of 75, and each one has a unique story to tell. There’s Lillian, a former dancer who now lives in a nursing home and struggles with dementia. There’s Melvin, a widower who spends his days listening to classical music and reflecting on his life. And there’s Lucy, a fiercely independent woman who is determined to live life on her own terms, despite her failing health.
One of the most striking things about Remember Me is its visual style. The film is shot in a gritty, cinema verite style, with handheld cameras and natural lighting. This gives the film a raw and intimate feel as if we are eavesdropping on these people’s lives.
The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling in a number of ways. First, it allows us to see the subjects in their natural environment, which gives us a sense of their daily struggles and routines. Second, it creates a sense of immediacy and intimacy, as if we are right there with them. And finally, it allows us to see the beauty in the mundane, as we watch these people go about their lives with grace and dignity.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when Lillian, the former dancer, watches a video of herself performing in her prime. As she watches herself move gracefully across the stage, she begins to cry, realizing how much she has lost to dementia. It’s a heartbreaking moment that captures the film’s central theme of the passage of time and the inevitability of aging.
Overall, Remember Me is a beautiful and moving documentary that offers a unique perspective on aging and mortality. While it’s certainly not an easy watch, it’s a film that will stay with you long after it’s over. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in exploring the human experience in all its complexity and beauty.
1980 Oscar Short Film Winners
Animated – Every Child
Live Action – Board and Care
Documentary – Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist