Watching all of the Oscar-nominated films is a noble endeavor. It's also a lengthy one. There are 10 feature films nominated for Best Picture, so you'll spend almost a full day in front of the screen, watching love bloom in Italy and soldiers flee the beaches of Dunkirk, and then another day watching documentaries and animated films.
This bring us to the beauty of the Oscar-nominated short films. In total, 15 short films are nominated, five in the categories of Best Animated Short, Best Documentary Short Subject, and Best Live Action Short Film. Short films are distinguished from feature films simply by length: the Academy defines short films as, "an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits."
According to critical reviews, the highlights of this year's batch are a shocking short drama about a receptionist trying to reason with a school shooter (DeKalb Elementary), a documentary about the front lines of the heroin epidemic (Heroin(e)), and a Pixar movie about a playground lost and found box (Lou).
Actually watching these short movies isn't as straightforward, though. Of the 15 movies, only a few are currently available for streaming.
Beginning February 9, all the short films will be shown in theaters around the country, thanks to a partnership between ShortsTV, a cable channel devoted to short films, and Magnolia Pictures. The nominees in Best Documentary Short, Best Animated Short, and Best Live Action Short will be shown as three separate events, and will take place in 500 theaters worldwide. You can find the participating theater nearest to you right here.
Don't feel like going to a theater? No problem. Starting February 27, the shorts will be available for streaming on platforms including Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes.
Here are all the movies you should add to your "To Watch" queue, including which ones are streaming.
Documentary Short Film Nominees
Edith + Eddie
Director: Laura Checkoway and Thomas Lee Wright
The Gist: This is an unforgettable nonagenarian love story. Edith Hill and Eddie Harrison are married, in their 90s, and couldn't care less about the fact that Eddie is white and Edith is Black. Edith's daughter tries to get her to move to Florida from Virginia, and thus separate Edith from her husband.
The Director: Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon
The Gist: The documentary short frontrunner takes us to Huntington, West Virginia, where about five people die of heroin overdoses each day. Three women in the community fight to break the devastating cycle.
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Director: Frank Stiefel
The Gist: An intimate portrait of 56-year-old artist Mindy Alper, who uses art to work through her lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression. Watch it on YouTube.
Director: Thomas Lennon
The Gist: In a matter of six weeks, the Edwins Leadership & Restaurant Institute in Cleveland aims to train newly released prisoners into becoming skillful cooks so they can work in institution's French restaurant. Watch it on YouTube.
Director: Kate Davis
The Gist: In June 2015, 26-year-old schoolteacher Breaion King was pulled over for a routine traffic violation in Austin, Texas. Her confrontation with the police escalated into a violent arrest. It was all was recorded on video, which eventually went viral. The documentary follows King in the aftermath.
Animated Short Film Nominees
Directors: Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant
The Gist: After 20 years of playing basketball professionally, Kobe Bryant wrote a letter to his beloved sport. This six-minute animated short is based on his words. Watch it here.
Director: Victor Caire and Gabriel Grapperon
The Gist: Salamanders and frogs explore an abandoned French villa, dine on the owner's leftover macaroons, and blast jazz music. Eventually, they find where the owner went. Watch it on YouTube.
Director: Dave Mullins and Dana Murray
The Gist: This Pixar animated short film takes place in a school playground during recess. A spirit who lives in the lost and found box tries to match each of the lost toys with a kid who will appreciate it. How sweet! How Pixar!
Director: Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata
The Gist: A father bonds with his son over how to effectively pack a suitcase. On a practical level, you will almost definitely learn from this documentary. It's also a sweet meditation on the things we teach each other. Watch it on YouTube.
Director: Jan Lachauer and Jakob Schuh
The Gist: Fans of Roald Dahl's very twisted mind will be pleased to know that he wrote the entirety of this short movie, which animates his rhymes and reinterpretations of fairy tales.
Live Action Short Film Nominees
Director: Reed Van Dyk
The Gist: A man with a semi-automatic rifle enters the office of an elementary school and gives the receptionist a set of instructions. Evacuate the building, then call 911. The movie is based on a real 911 call placed in Atlanta during a school shooting. It's terrifyingly timely.
The Eleven O’Clock
Director: Derin Seale and Josh Lawson
The Gist: This Australian short brings a little levity to the category. A psychiatrist's patient suffers from a very specific delusion: That he, is in fact, a psychiatrist as well.
My Nephew Emmett
Director: Kevin Wilson Jr.
The Gist: In the early morning of August 28, 1955, Mose Wright's house is invaded by two white men looking to capture his nephew, 14-year-old Emmett Till. My Nephew Emmett is directed by an NYU graduate student.
The Silent Child
Director: Chris Overton and Rachel Senton
The Gist: Four-year-old Libby is deaf in a family of people who are hearing. A new social worker assigned to her case wants to teach her sign language, but Libby's family is skeptical. Their expectations for what Libby is capable of are extremely low.
Watu Wote/All of Us
Director: Katja Benrath and Tobias Rosen
The Gist: Jua is a Christian woman living in Kenya. While traveling to visit a relative, her bus is stopped by a violent terrorist group who demand the Muslim passengers identify all the Christians — and the Muslims refuse to cooperate. It is based on a true story.
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