Aningaaq

2013.bestshortfilms

If you aren’t plugged in to what’s going on with short films, you’re missing out on an insane amount of outstanding entertainment. People talk about how difficult it was to whittle down Best Of lists for features this year (Her or Gravity or 12 Years a Slave?!) but after watching almost 3,000 shorts in 12 months, it feels like the depth of talent is growing in a big way on the small side. As a testament to the medium’s freedoms, more and more feature filmmakers are returning to it. No longer simply a calling card or an early stepping stone, shorts have an undeniable power coupled with an infinite platform that some are just now discovering. They’re also strange to categorize. For some, the internet is a red carpet while for others, it’s a final stop after touring festivals for years. As such, some of the best short films of 2013 were made a couple years ago. The focus is certainly on new projects, but some don’t find an audience quickly even as their magic deserves mention. Plus, there are 2013 movies like Noah that would have made this list, but are now unavailable (in most cases — including Noah‘s — because studios are keeping the work offline in order to have well-earned contractual conversations). But instead of getting bogged down in specifics, please let your mind wander for a short while.

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Martin Freeman Voorman Problem

Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences unveiled the semi-finalists for the Oscar in the Live Action Short category, and to many fans’ chagrin the shortlist did not include Jonas Cuaron‘s Aningaaq, the Gravity companion piece that also arrived online this week. So much for history being made (some thought the feature and its spin-off could win Best Picture and Best Live Action Short). I’d say that perhaps the voting branch didn’t have enough room in their hearts for two movies involving Inuit characters and preferred Miranda de Pencier‘s Throat Song. But that’s also one of two shortlisted films dealing with spousal abuse, so clearly they’re okay with overlapping themes. Rather than simply lay out the shortlist as it came to us from the Academy, with only title and director and no synopsis or other information, I’ve compiled a short guide to each of the contenders. Because it’s a more international group than usual (and yet not one Irish film for once!), some were harder to find details on than others, let alone trailers — some of which were found but not subtitled in English. Only one of the ten appears to be available to watch right now (and that might change if it’s nominated, so watch asap), and another almost doesn’t even seem to exist yet and has been shortlisted on faith in the filmmakers alone. If any others pop up online, even if it’s after the nominations are announced (on January 10, 2014) and its one […]

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Aningaaq

Why Watch? Meanwhile, on earth. Aningaaq is the companion to Gravity that fills in the visual space on the other end of Ryan Stone’s last-grasp radio call, and it breathes cold air into an isolated, unhappy story. Directed by Jonas Cuaron, it has the potential to be powerful, but probably not for anyone who hasn’t seen Alfonso Cuaron’s feature. Some have said that it should have been included in the movie — either at the very beginning or in real-time — but I just don’t see it. Part of what made Gravity so powerful was that we were never allowed to escape the environment. There was no safety release valve of flashing down to Houston to see what they were up to and no breather in the form of exposition from Stone’s past life. Including this short (or any shots on earth) would have broken the spell. Luckily we get to see it regardless. It’s also interesting that the team is submitting this short for Oscar consideration, meaning that it has a shot at making history alongside its all-but-guaranteed-a-nomination big brother. It’s a melancholy bit of storytelling with its own thoughtfulness and purpose, to be sure, but on the awards front there are plenty of other shorts that surpass it. Granted, I watch thousands of short films a year, but the buzz on this is coming purely from the depth of the feature film’s popularity. At any rate, it’s a beautiful bite of snow that also represents an encouraging shift in […]

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