2020 – Two Distant Strangers

“Two Distant Strangers” won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film at the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021. The film received recognition for its powerful and timely exploration of racial injustice and police violence. The story follows a character who finds himself trapped in a time loop, experiencing a fatal encounter with a police officer repeatedly. The film effectively addresses issues of systemic racism, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the recurring tragedies involving police and African American individuals.

 

“Two Distant Strangers,” directed by Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe, won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 2021. The film addresses themes of racial injustice and police violence in the United States. Here are some reasons why it won an Oscar:

1. Timely and Relevant Theme: – The film explores a timely and urgent social issue – the recurring tragedies involving Black individuals and police violence. The Academy often recognizes films that shed light on relevant and pressing societal concerns.

2. Impactful Storytelling: – “Two Distant Strangers” tells a powerful and thought-provoking story about a man caught in a time loop, experiencing the same deadly encounter with a police officer. The film effectively uses its narrative structure to emphasize the need for change and awareness.

3. Strong Social Message: – The film delivers a strong and poignant social message about the need for understanding, empathy, and systemic change in the face of racial discrimination and police brutality.

4. High Production Quality: – The film received praise for its production quality, including its direction, cinematography, and performances. A well-crafted short film with high production values is likely to stand out to the Academy. It had a budget it even uses a popular Bruce Hornsby song from 1986.

The Academy often recognizes films that make a strong impact in terms of storytelling, social relevance, and cinematic achievement. “Two Distant Strangers” was praised for its thought-provoking narrative, compelling performances, and its ability to shed light on important societal issues. The deeper layer subplot is that you have to talk to your enemies. After this you should watch Fruitville Station which is a superior film similar concept. Like a lot of these shorts there are feature length films covering similar messages. The groundhog day element of this short gives it a high concept unique twist. It ends with remember their names which is also a great message.

You can watch this short on Netflix.

2019 – The Neighbors’ Window

“The Neighbors’ Window” won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film at the 92nd Academy Awards in 2020. The film, directed by Marshall Curry, resonated with audiences and the Academy for several reasons:

1.Engaging Storytelling – “The Neighbors’ Window” tells a compelling and relatable story about a middle-aged woman who becomes captivated by the lives of her neighbors, leading to self-reflection and a new perspective on her own life.

2.Emotional Impact – The film successfully elicits an emotional response from viewers. It explores themes of voyeurism, human connection, and the passage of time, which can be universally relatable.

3.Technical Excellence – The film’s technical aspects, including cinematography, direction, and production design, were praised for their quality and contribution to the overall impact of the storytelling.

4. Critical Acclaim – Before winning the Oscar, “The Neighbors’ Window” received positive reviews from critics, indicating that it was well-received within the film community.

Watch the actual short on YouTube.

 

The story starts out with a peep show and a middle aged couple in awe of their new neighbors.  Then after the peep shows continues it becomes a source of conflict and jealousy. As the middle age couple raises their family they are very much aware of the neighbors across the court yard who host last night dance parties.  Eventually they realize the man hasn’t been around in a while could this perfect young couple have broken up.  Then he shows up but he looks different through the window. New hair style maybe a shaved head. One night hospice is there and they remove the man who has just died. Our star goes to see whats going on and finally engages the young female from across the courtyard.  We learn that she and her dead husband envied the perfect family in the window across the way. The family with three sweet perfect children growing up in a happy home. The story ends with the lady from across way looking in the window with envy watching her neighbors in a perfect marriage with a perfect kids. We get the other perspective. A very powerful ending. It’s a story about having a cup half full. Great little story clearly deserving an Oscar.

2018 – Skin (By:Guy Nattiv and Jaime Ray Newman)

“Skin,” directed by Guy Nattiv and starring Jaime Ray Newman, won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 2019. The film tells the story of a white supremacist who undergoes a transformation after a series of events, challenging his beliefs and relationships.

Several factors likely contributed to “Skin” winning the Oscar:

1. Social Relevance: The film addresses relevant and thought-provoking social issues, particularly those related to racism and extremism. The exploration of the consequences of hate and the potential for redemption may have resonated strongly with the Academy members.

2. Compelling Narrative: “Skin” features a powerful and emotionally charged narrative that engages viewers and leaves a lasting impact. The storytelling and character development are crucial elements that the Academy often considers when honoring short films.

3. Strong Performances: The performances by the cast, including Jaime Ray Newman, likely played a significant role in the film’s success. Convincing and impactful acting can elevate a short film and contribute to its recognition.

4. Critical Acclaim: Before the Oscars, “Skin” received positive reviews and acclaim from critics, showcasing its quality and impact within the film industry.

The short is available on YoutTube presented by Fox Searchlight.

The theme of this short is a lot like American History X about skin heads. It has a different take. What it does do is have a very impactful message and shock ending, which you will find most Oscar short winners use this formula.

2018 – The Silent Child (By: Chris Overton and Rachel Shenton)

“The Silent Child,” directed by Chris Overton and written by Rachel Shenton, won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 2018. Several factors contributed to its success:

1. Compelling Story: – “The Silent Child” tells the story of a deaf girl named Libby, highlighting the importance of communication and understanding for individuals with hearing impairments. The film’s narrative is emotionally resonant and raises awareness about the challenges faced by deaf individuals.

2. Social Relevance: The film addresses social issues related to deafness and the difficulties faced by deaf children in a hearing world. The Academy often recognizes films that shed light on important social topics and contribute to increased awareness and understanding.

3. Authentic Representation:-  Rachel Shenton, one of the film’s creators, has a personal connection to the subject matter. She learned British Sign Language (BSL) after her father became deaf, and this authenticity in representation likely contributed to the film’s impact.

4. Effective Storytelling: The filmmakers employed effective storytelling techniques to convey the emotional journey of the characters, particularly the young deaf protagonist, Libby. This emotional resonance is often a key factor in the success of short films.

5. Critical Acclaim: “The Silent Child” received positive reviews from critics, praising its storytelling, performances, and the important message it conveyed. Critical acclaim can significantly influence the recognition and success of a film, particularly at prestigious events like the Academy Awards.

Watch the entire short film from YouTube.

If you watch the short film’s you can understand why it won an Academy Award because of it’s compelling narrative, social relevance, authentic representation, effective storytelling, and from a unique perspective of a deaf person. Like Skin there is a feature film that dealt with being deaf that was also incredible. Check out CODA on Apple TV.

Unlike a lot of other Oscar winning short films this one didn’t have a particularly shocking ending. Some might be shocked but it did make me cry.  It probably has that affect on most people. The point is that a majority of children who can’t hear end up going to regular schools where they can’t communicate or associate with other kids. The reality is all children with hearing issues should go to special schools where they can learn sign language so they can thrive.  This particular short has a very strong message and makes a big social commentary on a rare minority that most of us never encounter so we aren’t aware. Social awareness is a great thing when a film can achieve that.

2017 – Sing (Mindenki) (By: Kristóf Deák and Anna Udvardy)

“Sing,” directed by Kristóf Deák and written by Anna Udvardy, won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 2017 which was produced in Hungry and has sub-titles. Several factors contributed to its success:

1. Heartwarming Story: – “Sing” tells a heartwarming story about a young girl who joins a school choir, but her enthusiasm and joy for singing face challenges. The film’s positive and uplifting narrative resonated with audiences and the Academy.

2. Universal Themes: – The film explores universal themes of individuality, the pursuit of passion, and the power of unity. Really what it. comes down to is don’t mess with the popular kid especially if your a teacher.

3. Effective Storytelling: – The filmmakers used effective storytelling techniques to convey the emotional journey of the characters, particularly the young girl, while also addressing deeper themes in a short format.

4. Youthful Perspective: – “Sing” features a story from a child’s perspective, which can be endearing and relatable. The film’s ability to capture the innocence and determination of the young protagonist likely played a role in its success.

Like many shorts that win over the years this story had a great ending It is a heart warming story that translates universally around the world.