“In rural Northern Ireland, following the untimely death of their mother, a young man with Down syndrome and his estranged brother discover her unfulfilled bucket list.”
An Irish Goodbye takes the worst emotional pain one can feel — the loss of a loved one — and contextualizes it as the most conflicted mix of “drama” and “comedy” I’ve ever seen. The Academy loves its death and depression, and An Irish Goodbye tackles its subjects with care, respect and good humor, choosing to show the best outcome of an unenviable scenario with the wit and wisdom that befits the Irish.
“Ivalu is gone. Her little sister is desperate to find her and her father does not care. The vast Greenlandic nature holds secrets. Where is Ivalu?”
Ivalu takes a ponderous look at its premise, lacking in dialogue but still attempting a slow build of tension to its subtle climax. Still, the short is beautiful and scenic, showcasing stunning shots of the Greenlandic landscape, but it doesn’t land with the punch you might expect from such a buildup; lacking the depth you might hope from an Oscar-nominated short.
“A facetious coming-of-age fable that ends with a cheeky moral: what if allegedly ‘bad girls’ were the best?”
“A cold night in December. Ebba waits for the tram to go home after a party, but the ride takes an unexpected turn.”
Night Ride is the annual short that, along with Stranger at the Gate, baffles me as to why it was ever produced, let alone released, let alone nominated. The story never lives up to the concept, until it takes a turn that transforms it from a harmless, well-intentioned comedy into a dramatically inappropriate and honestly quite baffling drama that stops working entirely. I can see the message, and I can understand why it was made, but it never comes off as respectful (as I’m sure was the intention) and ends with a ridiculous and contrived scenario, just as it began.
“A veiled 16 year old Iranian teenager is terrified to take her red suitcase from the carousel at the Luxembourg Airport, and go through the exit doors. Her fear grows with every second in the face of what awaits her beyond the gate.”
If we’re talking about masterfully-built tension, The Red Suitcase is a perfect example. It’s imbued with a tragic sense of reality, mixed with a brutal terror that the vast majority of viewers (me included) could never truly comprehend. It’s all capped off with an excellent final shot that warps the senses and hammers home that this story is more true-to-life than most might think.
What Will Win: This is a toss up...it’s close between An Irish Goodbye and Ivalu