This year's Oscar-nominated shorts are the strongest batch in a while. Produced in various countries and without a unifying theme (most of last year's somehow centered around child endangerment), these five shorts are, for the most part, riveting viewing:
"Brotherhood" (Dir. Meryam Joobeur) - Winner of TIFF's award for Best Canadian Short Film, Maryam Joobeur's "Brotherhood" is a searing yet quiet indictment of radicalism. Expertly-plotted and paced, this tense family drama leaves quite an impact.
"The Neighbors' Window" (Dir. Marshall Curry) - Marshall Curry has been an acclaimed documentarian (he's received three Oscar nominations), but with "The Neighbors' Window", he makes his narrative debut. Telling a distinctly New York story about human connection through voyeurism and led by a powerful performance by Tony-nominee Maria Dizzia, "The Neighbors' Window" is the best of this year's shorts.
"Nefta Football Club" (Dir. Yves Piat) - Drugs, kids, and a donkey listening to Adele sound like an odd combination, but they mix well in the charming "Nefta Football Club", easily the lightest and most breezily enjoyable of this year's group.
"Saria" (Dir. Bryan Buckley) - Telling the tragic true story of abused girls in a Guatemalan orphanage, Bryan Buckley's "Saria" sheds light on a story that's been swept under the rug with strong performances by a group of real-life orphans.
"Une Soeur (A Sister)" (Dir. Delphine Girard) - A pulse-quickening thriller about a woman who must make a phone call in order to potentially save her life, Delphine Gerard's "Une Soeur (A Sister)" is cleverly-structured and never exploitative with strong performances from its two leads.