The short film categories are some of the hardest to predict. These films don’t receive traditional Oscar campaigns, which would act to suss out front-runners. In lieu of that, one must look at general trends, distributors, aesthetic qualities, and word of mouth.
- A Night at the Garden
- Black Sheep
- End Game
- Period. End of Sentence.
Will Win: End Game
Could Win: Lifeboat
Dark Horse: Period. End of Sentence.
It is difficult to judge how the voting body will react to the documentary and live action short films. Often, I hope quality will prevail and choose the film that represents the best documentary filmmaking in the Best Documentary Short Subject category.
However, that is not the best tactic. The limited paratexts available could signal some sort of trend, but there is not a lot to go on. Netflix and HBO have done well in this category in recent years. Netflix won for The White Helmets in the same year when it had Extremis nominated. The next year they had Heroin(e) (which did not win).
This year, they have End Game, which bears a striking resemblance to Extremis. It has the intense and personal subject matter that often wins in this category.
A film like Lifeboat presents similar subject matter. Gripping, intense, personal yet with broad-sweeping implications. I would argue that it is a superior film, but that doesn’t account for much.
Black Sheep is a contender here, as well, but its presentation is less cinematic and more television, which may work against it. And Night in the Garden is recovered archive footage, seven minutes of World War II imagery that is startling but not altogether ground-breaking.
The question mark for me is Period. End of Sentence., namely because it is not currently available to buy, rent, or stream. It is scheduled to be released by Netflix, most likely prior to the Oscar ceremony. Period. End of Sentence. could be the purposeful short that the Academy will rally behind, as it appears to have a call to action and an educational movement behind it, judging by the website.
I could see this going the same direction as two years ago. The Netflix-distributed Period. End of Sentence. could rally and beat out the Extremis-esque End Game. I’m keeping Period. at bay in the dark horse position, for now, but after watching the film I may feel differently.
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)