March 3, 2023

2023 Academy Awards Nomination Breakdown: Best Live-Action Short

The Academy Awards are airing live on March 12, and for the first time, I have set out to break down every nominee in every category in order to assess, as accurately as I can, who and what has the best chance of winning. Today I will be discussing the nominees for Best Live-Action Short!

An Irish Goodbye

“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.

Le Pupille

“A facetious coming-of-age fable that ends with a cheeky moral: what if allegedly ‘bad girls’ were the best?”
This Italian short runs nearly forty minutes, but doesn’t feel it; in fact, it flies by, spotlighting some of the cutest child actors you’ve ever seen while keeping us grounded with quirky songs and strange situations that satirize the concept of a sheltered religious childhood. It almost feels like a Wes Anderson tale, stylizing the coming-of-age genre while also subverting its tropes.

Night Ride

“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.

The Red Suitcase

“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’s close between An Irish Goodbye and Ivalu

What Should Win: The Red Suitcase

1 comment:

  1. The best thing to do is not to bet against any of the nominees in this category. Although the nominees are chosen by the branch of documentary filmmakers affiliated to the Academy, the winners are voted by the more than 9,500 members of AMPAS, who sometimes find it difficult to see the third part of the shortlisted films in the main category, much less these little gems, which have little diffusion in the cinematographic panorama, unless a streaming platform falls in love and broadcasts them, as is the case of one of the nominees.

    Religion, empathy and loss are some of the themes that we can find among the films nominated for the Oscar 2023 for Best Live Action Short Film and that take us to Ireland, Luxembourg, Italy, Norway and Greenland. Which of them is the best? Which one looks favorite to take home the statuette?

    "An Irish Goodbye" is a tender black comedy about brotherhood and tradition that, propelled by excellent performances from James Martin and Seamus O'Hara, tackles with sensitivity and sly humor (very Irish) its ideas about prejudice. A strong threat to win the 2023 Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film, even more so, considering the strong Irish presence in many categories at the Academy Awards and the presumable support it will receive from British voters.

    Not to be missed among the nominees was the traditional short film about child suffering, the disturbing fetish of voters in this category. "Ivalu" is indeed miserable, soap operatic and slightly manipulative, yet it also has several qualities: its outstanding cinematography uses the vastness of Greenland's landscapes to suggest the protagonist's despair and the mystical aspect gives an interesting dimension to the story. Although telegraphed, its ending is heartbreaking and the consequence of a solid narrative progression that relies on flashbacks to capture the bond between the protagonist sisters.

    Le Pupille" is arguably the most complex and intelligent work in this category, and the only one that dares to make you think instead of presenting all its cards. Apart from its enriching and multidimensional narrative, "Le Pupille" enjoys beautiful technical elements that immerse you in this charming little world. Undoubtedly the nominated live action short film that stays with you the most after watching it, will it also "stay" with the Academy voters? It is worth remembering that it is the only one of the nominees that is currently being broadcast on Streaming (Disney+), and that will represent a lot of votes for the final stretch on March 12.

    "Night Ride" is a straightforward short with comedic overtones that has an interesting start and promising premise but soon devolves into a rather clumsy attempt at manipulation, whose "feelgood" ending is designed to make you feel good. However, this denouement is actually quite irresponsible as it uses the victimization of a trans person to land a shallow awareness message, which, by the way, is for the benefit of a cis person. It seems that the theme of the 2023 Oscar nominations is faux progressivism and "Night Ride" is another example of that.

    "The Red Suitacase" is an absolutely captivating short film brimming with tension where every corner, every unknown person, every interaction and every wasted second is cause for stress Can this young woman dodge the future she didn't choose? Everything seems to be against her. Without the need for dialogue and rather using her facial expressions and corporeality, Nawelle Ewad conveys her character's enormous fear with great precision, while the cinematography and astute use of space are employed to generate stress and offer sparks of hope. This is great work by Cyrus Neshvad, who never resorts to misery or exploitation to tell an important story, but rather to empathy, here created in the manner of a thriller.