By Kit Bowen

There has been talk over the years of taking the Live Action Short Film – along with the Animated Short and Documentary Short Subject – out of the Academy Awards equation, but the outcry was too great for the Academy to even consider getting rid of those categories. Short films have always been a gateway for many filmmakers to bigger and better projects – and now, with the YouTubes of the world, there are more accessible. Winning an Oscar is just icing on the cake.

Plus, the categories are game changers in any serious Oscar pool. So, to be as informed as you can be for your Oscar picks, here’s the skinny on the five Live Action Short Film nominees:

“The Door”
Who: Writer/director Juanita Wilson
Country: Russia, Ireland
What: Moving forwards and backwards in time, this is an impressionistic, personal and heart-wrenching view of the universal tragedy of Chernobyl, following one man and his family, as they cope with life after the nuclear disaster. You get more information from the film’s official site.

“Instead of Abracadabra”
Who: Writer/director Patrik Eklund
Country: Sweden
What: Despite the exasperation of his family, a young man dreams of becoming a magician. From the trailer, it sort of looks like “Napoleon Dynamite” meets David Copperfield. Watch here:

Who: Writer/director Gregg Helvey
Country: India
What: This film looks at modern-day slavery in India, as young boy and his parents are forced to work in a brick kiln. The boy dreams of playing cricket and going to school but faces the hard reality of his situation – until he decides to change it. You get more information from the film’s official site, including a trailer.

“Miracle Fish”
Who: Writer/director Luke Doolan
Country: Australia
What: Having the worst birthday party of his young life, where his friends tease him mercilessly, 8-year old Joe sneaks off, wishing everyone in the world would go away. He falls asleep and wakes up to find his dream may have become a reality. Sounds very “Twilight Zone”-ish. You can see the entire 17-minute film here.

“The New Tenants”
Who: Director Joachim Back
Country: USA, Denmark
What: This is the only film with name actors, including Vincent D’Onofrio and Kevin Corrigan, and is about two men who move into an apartment together, in hopes for a fresh start, but discover their new abode has a terrifying history. Watch the trailer:

The New Tenants trailer from Det Danske Filminstitut on Vimeo.

Hmmm, they all look pretty good. “The New Tenant” has some star power; “Instead of Abracadabra” looks pretty hilarious; “Kavi” seems like a tough subject. But if I were to pick one, I’d probably go with “The Door,” since it shows young children, struggling with cancer from the affects of radiation. That kind of stuff always tugs at the heart – and wins Oscars.

Road to the Oscars series:

Podcasts – Kit Bowen, Nate Freiberg, Adam Spunberg, and Phil Wallace

February 4: Live Action Short – Kit Bowen

February 5: Animated Short – Kit Bowen

February 8: Documentary Short Subject – Christa Youngpeter

February 9: Documentary Feature – Nate Freiberg

February 10: Foreign Language Film – Paul Popiel

February 12: Animated Film – Nate Freiberg

February 15: Sound Mixing – Jeremy Martin

February 16: Sound Editing – Jeremy Martin

February 17: Original Song – Adam Spunberg and Savanna New

February 18: Visual Effects – Mallory Pickard

February 19: Original Score – Adam Spunberg

February 22: Makeup – Christa Youngpeter

February 23: Costume – Steve Neumann

February 24: Art Direction – Christa Youngpeter

February 25: Film Editing – Steve Neumann

February 26: Cinematography – Paul Popiel

February 27: Original Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

February 28: Adapted Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

March 1: Supporting Actress – Marla Seidell

March 2: Supporting Actor – Phil Wallace

March 3: Actress – Marla Seidell

March 4: Actor – Kit Bowen

March 5: Director – Adam Spunberg

March 5: Picture – Kit Bowen

March 7: The 82nd Annual Academy Awards!