2019 Oscars Look: Best Live Action Short

Welcome to our annual Oscar Look series, formally known as “Oscar Circuit” – our deep dive look into each and every category that will be presented at the upcoming Academy Awards.  Each writer of will tackle a different category, offering up their own perspectives on those specific races.  If you miss a piece, click on the tag titled Oscar Look 2018. You can also see the official Oscar Predictions for that particular race by clicking on the link here or at the bottom of each article.  Make sure to include your own predicted winners in the comment section too!

And the Nominees are:

  • “Detainment” – Vincent Lambe and Darren Mahon
  • “Fauve” – Jeremy Comte and Maria Gracia Turgeon
  • “Madre” – Rodrigo Sorogoyen and María del Puy Alvarado
  • “Marguerite” – Mariane Farley and Marie-Héléne Panisset
  • “Skin” – Guy Nattiv and Jaime Ray Newman

The shorts category can make or break an Oscars predictions ballot. Since they are arguably the least seen among the nominees, truly anything can happen. However, astute Oscar viewers should watch these shorts. Every year we find hidden gems within the shorts categories. Plus, they are great calling cards for future big screen auteurs. Without further ado, let’s look at the live action short nominees this year.


Nominees: Vincent Lambe and Darren Mahon

Oscar Scene: Jon and Robert lead their victim to the train tracks.

“Detainment” takes transcripts from a true 1993 murder case and turns it into a 30 minute short film, the longest of the bunch. Two ten year-old boys are accused of abducting and murdering a two year-old boy in the UK. What progresses from there is a tragic and unsettling tale based on a horrifying real murder case. The short is played with high intensity, both from the actors and the editing. With dramatic interrogations and frequent cuts to the deed in question, the film unsettles and is incredibly showy. This makes the short feel more substantial and can win over votes. However, the unsettling nature of the film, coupled with the sensational histrionics on display, may turn other voters off.


Nominee: Jeremy Comte and Maria Gracia Turgeon

Oscar Scene: The boys sink into the concrete.

A play day in a surface mine between two young boys quickly turns tragic in “Fauve.” The Canadian short features strong visual work from director Jeremy Comte. It’s a raw and unflinching look at survival while alone in Mother Nature. However, this more sparse tale might have trouble separating itself from the pack in this race. It bears resemblance to a few other films in the group and is the most bare bones in terms of themes and narrative. It’s a strong calling card on its own, however. Those who vote for it may be swayed by the nature shots that find the outdoors frightening in its beauty.


Nominee: Rodrigo Sorogoyen and María del Puy Alvarado

Oscar Scene: Marta panics while running around the apartment.

What stands out about “Madre” is its sense of urgency. Marta (Marta Nieto) receives a call from her seven year old son, who’s alone on the beach and can’t find his father. Upon getting the phone call that begins the short, Marta flies into a real time panic. The short builds really well as an unbroken representation of tension. However, this is one of four shorts that center on children in or around peril. There’s little that separates this from “Fauve,” which also sees children alone and in terrible danger. Some may be impressed by the acting. However, it struggles to stand out, which could cost it the win.


Nominee: Mariane Farley and Marie-Héléne Panisset

Oscar Scene: Marguerite asks Rachel what it’s like to be with a woman.

The titular role of “Marguerite” refers to an elderly woman (Beatrice Picard) who bonds with her nurse, Rachel (Sandrine Bisson). Upon learning that Rachel is a lesbian, Marguerite re-examines her own life. What may help “Marguerite” is that it’s different in subject matter than the other live action shorts. Not only is it the only one that isn’t about children in danger, but it’s also the only uplifting submission. While many past winners in this category have been around children, they also have been more uplifting films. Voters may rally around this sweet tale that proves, over time, it truly does get better.


Nominee: Guy Nattiv and Jaime Ray Newman

Oscar Scene: Johnny returns home to a less than pleasant welcome.

“Skin” ultimately proves to be the most divisive of the nominees in this category. The short follows a white, gun-owning family who stops off at a supermarket following a day at the gun range. While there, the father, Johnny (Jonathan Tucker), hurls racial epithets at Jaydee (Ashley Thomas), an African-American man who was friendly to his son, Troy (Jackson Robert Scott). What happens next is a strange tale of escalation that builds to a shockingly tone-deaf ending. There’s a faux sense of social justice to the piece that might hurl it to a win. Additionally, it’s the only live action short to deal with race, which may win it some votes. However, the gruesome and tasteless nature of the short will hopefully dissuade voters from naming this the Best Live Action Short.

Predicted Winner: “Marguerite” 


Be sure to check out our Official Oscar Predictions Page!

Share all your thoughts in the comments below!

What do you think?

AC Fan

Written by Christopher James

Christopher James has been an Oscar obsessive ever since watching his first ceremony at age 5 when "Titanic" won Best Picture. He is a recent graduate from Loyola Marymount University with degrees in Screenwriting for Film and Television and Marketing. Christopher currently works in media strategy and planning at Liquid Advertising, based out of Los Angeles, CA. You can find Christopher running on the sunny beach, brunching at trendy restaurants or mostly just sitting in a dark room watching movies and TV in sweatpants. Follow me on Twitter @cwj92movieman

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