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Review: ''The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2009''

Varying degrees of schmaltz and subtlety
By PETER KEOUGH  |  February 4, 2009
2.5 2.5 Stars

090206_shorts-main
“TOYLAND” Jochen Alexander Freydank’s live-action short will likely win the Oscar.

As with Best Picture, the themes of death, aging, and difficult love dominate the two Shorts Oscar categories this year. And like the big boys, these films handle their subjects with varying degrees of schmaltz and subtlety. On the Live Action side, Swiss director Reto Caffi's "On the Line," a taut tale of voyeurism and guilt, is the best. Dane Dorte Høgh's "The Pig" attempts a parable about tolerance à la the Mohammed-cartoon affair.

French duo Elizabeth Marre & Olivier Pont's "Manon on the Sidewalk" is It's a Wonderful Life for Facebook, and Irish helmer Steph Green's "New Boy" tries too hard. But German Jochen Alexander Freydank's "Toyland," which hovers somewhere between The Boy in the StripedPajamas and Sophie's Choice, should win the Oscar.

Likewise, on the animated side, Japanese Kunio Kato's "La maison en petits cubes" should beat British directors Smith & Foulkes's "This Way Up," because the Academy prefers mortality prettified, not funny as hell.

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