The 88th Academy Awards held in 2016 brought a remarkable collection of Short Film nominees that demonstrated the power of storytelling in its most concise form.
From touching documentaries to visually stunning animations and heart-wrenching live-action dramas, the 2016 Oscars Short Film category celebrated the best and brightest of emerging talents in the film industry.
Each film presented a unique perspective on the world, showcasing a level of creativity, technical expertise, and storytelling ability that is rarely found in mainstream cinema.
In this article, we will explore the Best Short Film nominees of the 88th Academy Awards and examine what made each of them stand out in their respective categories. These films prove that even with a limited runtime, short films can create a lasting impact on audiences and the film industry as a whole.
Get ready to be amazed and inspired by the creativity and talent of some of the most promising filmmakers in the world.
Animated Short Films
Bear Story is a heartwarming and poignant animated short film directed by Pato Escala Pierart and Gabriel Osorio Vargas. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2016 and won the award, making it the first Chilean film to win an Oscar.
The film tells the story of an old bear who spends his days creating a mechanical diorama that depicts his life story. The bear was once a circus performer, but he was separated from his family and forced to live a life of solitude. Through his diorama, he relives his past and hopes to one day be reunited with his family.
The animation style of Bear Story is both intricate and captivating. The film employs a mix of stop-motion and computer-generated animation, which creates a unique visual experience. The attention to detail in the animation is exceptional, and the characters are beautifully designed.
The animation style contributes significantly to the storytelling of the film. The use of stop-motion animation gives the film a nostalgic quality and emphasizes the themes of memory and nostalgia. The film also uses a muted color palette, which gives the film a somber tone that matches the bear’s melancholic story.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is the bear’s circus performance, which is depicted through his diorama. The scene is both thrilling and tragic, as we see the bear’s family torn apart by the circus owner. Another standout moment is the ending, which is both bittersweet and hopeful.
Overall, Bear Story is a beautiful and emotional film that will resonate with audiences of all ages. The film is perfect for those who appreciate intricate animation and enjoy stories that tug at the heartstrings. I highly recommend this film and believe it is a must-watch for anyone who loves animation.
Prologue is a stunning animated short film directed by Imogen Sutton and Richard Williams, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2016. The film is set in ancient Greece and follows the story of a Spartan warrior and a young girl as they prepare for battle. The opening scene shows the girl gathering flowers in a peaceful field, which quickly contrasts with the brutal and violent nature of the Spartan army as they march into battle.
The animation style of Prologue is incredibly detailed and realistic, using hand-drawn animation to create an almost three-dimensional effect. The attention to detail is particularly evident in the character designs, with each individual soldier having their own unique facial features and expressions. The animation style contributes to the storytelling by immersing the viewer in the world of ancient Greece, creating a sense of authenticity and historical accuracy.
One of the standout moments in the film is the battle scene itself, which is both visually stunning and incredibly violent. The animation captures the chaos and brutality of the battle, with the sound design adding to the sense of realism. The film does not shy away from the horrors of war, and the final moments of the film are both shocking and poignant.
Overall, Prologue is a beautifully crafted film that showcases the power of animation as a storytelling medium. It is not for the faint of heart, as the violence and subject matter may be disturbing for some viewers. However, for those who appreciate animation as an art form, Prologue is a must-see. It would appeal to fans of historical dramas and war films, as well as those who appreciate the artistry of animation.
Sanjay’s Super Team
Sanjay’s Super Team is a 2015 animated short film that was directed by Sanjay Patel and Nicole Paradis Grindle. This Pixar film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2016. It tells the story of a young boy named Sanjay who is more interested in watching his favorite superhero show than participating in his father’s daily prayer rituals.
Sanjay’s father is a devout Hindu who wants his son to carry on the family tradition. However, when Sanjay’s imagination brings his favorite superhero characters to life during his father’s prayer ceremony, he gains a newfound appreciation for his father’s customs and heritage.
The main characters in the film are Sanjay and his father. Sanjay is a young boy who loves superheroes and idolizes them. His father is a traditional Hindu who is trying to pass on his heritage to his son.
The animation style in Sanjay’s Super Team is unique and colorful. The film features a blend of traditional hand-drawn animation and computer-generated imagery. The visual style of the film is inspired by Hindu mythology and comic books, which gives it a distinct look.
The animation style contributes to the storytelling by immersing the audience in Sanjay’s imagination. The bright colors and dynamic visuals help to bring the superhero characters to life and make the audience feel like they are part of Sanjay’s world.
One specific scene that stood out was when Sanjay’s father transforms into a multi-armed Hindu deity. The scene is visually stunning and captures the essence of Hindu mythology. Another memorable moment is when Sanjay’s superhero characters fuse together to form a new, more powerful hero.
Overall, Sanjay’s Super Team is a heartwarming and visually stunning film that explores themes of culture, tradition, and family. It is a great film for all ages and would be particularly appealing to those interested in Hindu mythology and comic books. I highly recommend this film to anyone looking for a unique and engaging animated short.
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos is a 2015 animated short film directed by Konstantin Bronzit. The film tells the story of two best friends, both cosmonauts, who dream of traveling to space together. The plot follows their intense training, their joy at being selected for a mission, and the devastating aftermath of a tragic accident.
The film’s main characters are two cosmonauts, whose friendship is at the heart of the story. They are both passionate about space travel, and their connection is evident in the way they work together, support each other, and share their dreams. Despite their different personalities, they have a deep bond that drives the narrative forward.
The animation style of We Can’t Live Without Cosmos is simple yet effective. The characters are portrayed with minimalistic designs, which allows the focus to be on their emotions and movements. The use of color is also striking, with a muted palette that adds to the melancholic tone of the film. The animation style contributes to the storytelling by emphasizing the characters’ emotions and the intensity of their experiences.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when the two friends are training in a pool, simulating a zero-gravity environment. The scene is beautifully animated, with the water reflecting the light and the movements of the cosmonauts. Another standout moment is when one of the cosmonauts has a dream about floating in space, which is both haunting and poetic.
Overall, We Can’t Live Without Cosmos is a touching and emotional film that will resonate with anyone who has ever had a close friendship. The film is recommended for anyone who enjoys animation, science fiction, or stories about human connections. It is a beautifully crafted film that deserves to be seen by a wider audience.
World of Tomorrow
World of Tomorrow, directed by Don Hertzfeldt, is a 2015 animated short film that takes the viewer on a surreal and emotional journey through time and space. The film centers around a little girl named Emily who is contacted by her future self, a clone from 227 years in the future. Emily’s future self takes her on a tour of the World of Tomorrow, showing her the incredible advancements in technology and the human experience, as well as the dark and tragic consequences of these advancements.
The animation style of World of Tomorrow is simple yet striking, using stick figures and basic shapes to convey complex emotions and ideas. The minimalist style allows the audience to focus on the story and the characters, rather than being distracted by flashy visuals.
One of the standout scenes in the film is when Emily’s future self shows her a memory of a past love affair. The memory is fragmented and glitchy, reflecting the imperfections and distortions of memory itself. The scene is both beautiful and haunting, capturing the bittersweet nature of human connection and the fleetingness of life.
Overall, World of Tomorrow is a stunning and thought-provoking film that explores big ideas about humanity, technology, and the nature of consciousness. It is a film that will stay with you long after the credits roll. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys animation, science fiction, or thought-provoking storytelling. Its themes and style make it a particularly good fit for adult audiences.
Live Action Short Films
Stutterer, a 2015 film directed by Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage, tells the story of a young man named Greenwood who struggles with a severe stutter. Despite being highly intelligent and creative, Greenwood’s stutter has made him feel isolated and unable to connect with others. As the film unfolds, we witness Greenwood’s daily struggles with communication, relationships, and self-esteem.
One of the most striking aspects of Stutterer is its visual style. The film uses a mix of close-ups, medium shots, and long shots to create a sense of intimacy with Greenwood and his world. The cinematography is often blurred or out of focus, mimicking the way Greenwood’s mind works as he struggles to find the right words. The use of light and shadow is also masterful, with scenes often bathed in a warm golden glow or starkly lit to reflect Greenwood’s emotional state.
Despite its short runtime of only 12 minutes, Stutterer packs an emotional punch. There are several scenes that stood out to me, such as when Greenwood tries to order a coffee and is met with confusion and impatience from the barista. Another powerful moment is when Greenwood finally opens up to a woman he has been chatting with online, and we see the relief and joy on his face as he realizes that she accepts him for who he is.
Overall, I was deeply moved by Stutterer and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant film. While the film’s subject matter may be of particular interest to those who struggle with communication disorders, I believe that anyone who has ever felt like an outsider or struggled to connect with others will find something to relate to in this powerful film.
Ave Maria is a charming and humorous short film that tells the story of a group of nuns, Jewish settlers, and Palestinian farmers who become entangled in a hilarious mishap. Directed by Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont, this film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2016 for Best Live Action Short Film.
The film takes place in the West Bank, where a car accident leaves a group of nuns stranded in the middle of nowhere. They seek help from the nearest house, which happens to be a small Palestinian family-run restaurant. The problem is that the family is in the middle of preparing a traditional meal to break their Ramadan fast, and the arrival of the nuns causes quite a stir. To make matters worse, the nuns are not allowed to speak to men, and the restaurant owner is a man. The result is a hilarious cultural clash that will have you laughing from start to finish.
The film’s style and cinematography are essential to the storytelling, as it is a visual medium that relies heavily on the facial expressions, gestures, and body language of the characters. The film uses long takes and static shots to capture the humor and awkwardness of the situation, and the use of natural light and colors helps to create a warm and inviting atmosphere.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when the nuns try to use a phone to call for help, but they can’t because it is the Sabbath. Another standout moment is when the nuns and the family try to communicate through sign language, with hilarious results. The film’s clever writing, excellent pacing, and charming performances make it a joy to watch.
Overall, Ave Maria is a delightful and heartwarming film that will appeal to a wide audience. It is a perfect example of how a well-crafted short film can tell a compelling story in a short amount of time. I highly recommend this film to anyone looking for a good laugh and an uplifting message of hope and unity.
Day One, directed by Henry Hughes, is a powerful and emotional film that follows a young Afghan-American woman, Feda, as she begins her job as a translator for the US Army in Afghanistan. This film captures the harsh reality of war and the personal struggles of those who are caught in the middle of it.
The film’s visual style is captivating, with stunning cinematography that captures the beauty and brutality of Afghanistan. The camera work is intimate, often focusing on the faces of the characters, which adds to the emotional intensity of the film.
Day One’s storytelling is masterfully crafted, with the film’s style and cinematography contributing to the narrative in a powerful way. The film’s use of flashbacks and dream sequences effectively convey Feda’s emotional turmoil and the trauma she has experienced.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Feda is forced to deliver a baby while under fire. This scene is tense, emotional, and expertly shot. It perfectly captures the chaos and danger of war, while also highlighting the bravery and resilience of the human spirit.
Overall, Day One is a compelling and thought-provoking film that offers a unique perspective on the war in Afghanistan. It is a must-see for anyone interested in the human cost of war, and the struggles of those who are caught in the middle of it. While the film can be emotionally challenging at times, it is ultimately a powerful and inspiring story that is sure to leave a lasting impact on its audience. I highly recommend Day One to anyone looking for a moving and thought-provoking film.
Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)
Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut) is a 2015 film directed by Patrick Vollrath. The film follows the story of a divorced father, Michael, who takes his eight-year-old daughter, Lea, on a weekend trip. As the weekend progresses, it becomes clear that Michael has ulterior motives, and the trip takes a dark turn.
The film’s style and cinematography are crucial to its storytelling. Vollrath uses a handheld camera to create a sense of intimacy, putting the audience in the middle of the action. The camera work is often shaky, which adds to the tension and unease of the film. The cinematography is also notable for its use of close-ups, which allow the audience to see the emotions and expressions of the characters up close.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Michael takes Lea to a toy store and lets her pick out whatever she wants. The scene starts out as a happy moment, but the tension builds as Michael’s true intentions are revealed. The camera work during this scene is particularly effective, as it captures the conflicting emotions on Lea’s face.
Another standout scene is when Michael takes Lea to a motel and tries to convince her to stay with him instead of going home. The tension in this scene is palpable, and the camera work is masterful as it captures the fear and confusion on Lea’s face.
Overall, Everything Will Be Okay is a powerful and disturbing film that will leave a lasting impression on viewers. While it may not be for everyone, it is a must-see for fans of intense and thought-provoking cinema. The film’s themes of control, manipulation, and power dynamics will resonate with anyone who has experienced a toxic relationship. I highly recommend this film to anyone looking for a challenging and unforgettable viewing experience.
Shok, directed by Jamie Donoughue, is a gripping and heart-wrenching film that tells the story of two young boys living in war-torn Kosovo during the late 1990s. This 2015 film is a nominee for the Best Live Action Short Film at the 88th Academy Awards, and it is easy to see why.
The film’s central characters are two boys, Petrit and Oki, who are best friends growing up in a small village in Kosovo. The film follows their everyday life, including their love for soccer, their families, and their dreams. However, their lives are abruptly changed when they are confronted with the harsh reality of war, as Serbian soldiers invade their village and bring destruction and violence.
The visual style of Shok is stunning, with beautiful cinematography capturing the beauty of the Kosovo landscape and the innocence of the boys’ lives before the war. The film’s style shifts as the war arrives, becoming more chaotic and frenzied, mirroring the boys’ experiences.
One of the film’s most powerful moments is when Petrit and Oki are forced to make a difficult decision that will change their lives forever. The scene is filmed with great sensitivity, and it is a testament to Donoughue’s skill as a director.
The film’s style and cinematography contribute greatly to the storytelling, helping to create a sense of place and mood that immerses the viewer in the story. The use of handheld cameras and natural lighting creates a sense of immediacy, making the viewer feel as if they are there with the boys.
Overall, Shok is a powerful and moving film that highlights the devastating impact of war on innocent lives. It is a film that will stay with you long after the credits roll. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in thought-provoking films and stories about human resilience.
Documentary Short Films
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness is a powerful and thought-provoking documentary directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. The film tells the story of Saba, a young Pakistani woman who survived an attempted honor killing by her own family.
The film explores the complex and deeply ingrained cultural traditions that allow such crimes to occur, as well as the struggle for justice and the fight to change attitudes toward women in Pakistan.
One of the strengths of the film is its use of intimate interviews with Saba and her family, as well as with lawyers, judges, and activists who work to combat honor killings. These personal stories offer a humanizing perspective on a deeply troubling issue, and the film is all the more impactful for it.
The cinematography and visual style of the film are also noteworthy. The use of handheld cameras and natural lighting creates a sense of intimacy and immediacy, bringing the viewer into the heart of the story. The use of aerial shots of the city of Lahore and the surrounding countryside also provides a sense of place and context for the story.
One particular scene that stood out to me was Saba’s visit to her husband in jail. The tension and emotion in the scene were palpable, and the camera’s close-up shots of Saba’s face conveyed her pain and anguish with heartbreaking clarity.
Overall, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness is a powerful and important film that shines a light on a deeply troubling issue. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in social justice, women’s rights, or documentary filmmaking.
While the film is likely to be of particular interest to those with an interest in Pakistani culture and society, its message is universal, and anyone with a heart will be moved by Saba’s story.
Body Team 12
Body Team 12, directed by David Darg and Bryn Mooser, is a harrowing and emotional documentary that takes viewers on a journey into the heart of the Ebola crisis in Liberia. The film follows the eponymous Body Team 12, a group of brave and dedicated individuals tasked with the gruesome job of collecting and disposing of the bodies of Ebola victims.
The film’s main character is Garmai Sumo, a young Liberian woman who is part of the Body Team. Through her eyes, we witness the devastation wrought by the Ebola virus, as well as the incredible courage and resilience of the Liberian people in the face of this deadly epidemic.
The visual style of Body Team 12 is both raw and intimate, with handheld cameras and close-up shots that put viewers right in the middle of the action. This immersive approach to filmmaking allows us to experience the fear, grief, and heroism of the Body Team firsthand.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when Garmai visits her family for the first time since joining the Body Team. Her mother, understandably terrified for her daughter’s safety, asks her to quit her job. Garmai responds by saying that she can’t abandon her people in their time of need. It’s a poignant moment that highlights the incredible sacrifices made by these ordinary people who put their lives on the line every day to fight this deadly disease.
Overall, Body Team 12 is a remarkable and deeply affecting documentary that sheds light on one of the most devastating health crises in recent history. The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by putting viewers right in the middle of the action, allowing us to experience the fear and the heroism of the Body Team firsthand. I highly recommend this film to anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the human toll of the Ebola crisis, as well as to anyone who appreciates powerful and emotionally resonant documentary filmmaking.
Chau, Beyond the Lines
Chau, Beyond the Lines is a moving and inspiring documentary directed by Courtney Marsh and Jerry Franck. It tells the story of Chau, a young Vietnamese boy who dreams of becoming an artist despite being born with a severe birth defect caused by Agent Orange. The film follows Chau over the course of six years as he grows up in a care center for children with disabilities and tries to overcome the many obstacles in his path.
The filmmakers take a very personal approach to the story, allowing us to get to know Chau and the other children in the care center as individuals with their own hopes, dreams, and challenges. We see Chau’s struggles with his physical limitations, his frustration with the limitations of his environment, and his determination to create something beautiful in the face of adversity. Through it all, Chau remains an incredibly positive and resilient young man, inspiring both the people around him and the viewers at home.
The visual style of the film is understated but effective, with a focus on intimate close-ups of the children’s faces and hands as they work on their art projects. The filmmakers also make great use of archival footage and still photos to give us a sense of the historical context of the story and the impact of Agent Orange on the Vietnamese people.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when Chau visits an exhibition of his artwork in Hanoi and sees his pieces on display for the first time. His joy and pride are palpable, and the scene is a testament to the transformative power of art in the lives of young people like Chau.
Overall, Chau, Beyond the Lines is a heartwarming and thought-provoking film that will leave viewers feeling inspired and uplifted. It is a must-see for anyone interested in the power of art, the resilience of the human spirit, or the ongoing impact of the Vietnam War. I highly recommend it to all audiences.
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah is a 2015 documentary directed by Adam Benzine. The film chronicles the making of Lanzmann’s seminal Holocaust documentary, Shoah, which was released in 1985. The documentary features interviews with Lanzmann and explores the challenges he faced while making the film.
The film’s subjects are primarily Lanzmann and the making of Shoah. However, the documentary also touches on the Holocaust and the survivors who were interviewed for the original film. The documentary’s visual style is straightforward and features interviews with Lanzmann interspersed with footage from Shoah.
The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by allowing the viewer to see the impact that the making of Shoah had on Lanzmann. The interviews with Lanzmann are emotional and powerful, and the footage from Shoah is haunting and impactful. The film’s visual style is a tribute to the power of documentary filmmaking and the importance of preserving history through film.
One scene that stood out to me was when Lanzmann discusses the difficulty of interviewing Holocaust survivors. He describes the survivors as “spectres” who are haunted by their experiences. This scene is particularly poignant, as it highlights the importance of the survivors’ stories and the need to preserve them.
Overall, Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah is a powerful documentary that provides insight into the making of one of the most important Holocaust documentaries of all time. I highly recommend this film to anyone interested in documentary filmmaking, the Holocaust, or the power of storytelling.
It is a must-see for anyone who has seen Shoah and wants to learn more about its creation.
Last Day of Freedom
Last Day of Freedom is a moving and emotional documentary that tells the story of Bill Babbitt and his brother Manny. Directed by Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman, this film was nominated for Best Documentary (Short Subject) at the 2016 Academy Awards.
The film’s subject matter revolves around the death penalty and its impact on families. Bill Babbitt’s brother Manny was a Vietnam War veteran who suffered from PTSD. One night, Manny committed a crime and was sentenced to death. Bill, who had always looked up to his older brother, struggled with the decision to report him to the police. The film follows Bill’s journey as he tries to save his brother’s life and the devastating consequences that follow.
The film’s visual style is a mix of animation and live-action footage. The animation is used to tell Manny’s story and to portray his memories of the war. The live-action footage captures Bill’s interviews and his interactions with his family. The use of animation adds a unique dimension to the film and allows the audience to see Manny’s story from his perspective.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when Bill describes the moment he found out about his brother’s death. The animation shows Manny’s face slowly disappearing into darkness, symbolizing his life slipping away. This scene is incredibly emotional and shows the pain that Bill feels as he reflects on his brother’s life and death.
Overall, Last Day of Freedom is a thought-provoking and heart-wrenching film that sheds light on the flaws of the criminal justice system. The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by adding depth and emotion to the narrative. This film is recommended for anyone interested in social justice issues and the impact of the death penalty on families.
2016 Oscar Short Film Winners
Live Action – Stutterer
Animated – Bear Story
Documentary – A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness