Academy appetizers

Oscar Nominated Short Films 2015: Live Action4Oscar Nominated Short Films 2015: Live ActionPageant Theatre. Not rated.

There are a good many special movie-going pleasures to be found in this year’s program of Oscar-nominated live-action short films.

Some of the extra-special standouts include Sally Hawkins’ enchanting performance in The Phone Call; the bittersweet comedy of cross-cultural manners in Talkhon Hamzavi’s Parvaneh; the intricately observed psychology of two people meeting by chance in the arrivals area of an Israeli airport in Aya (directed by Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis); the rambunctious high spirits of two Irish kids trying to protect their pet chickens in Boogaloo and Graham; and the brilliantly casual social panorama of Hu Wei’s Butter Lamp.

The Phone Call has Hawkins playing a crisis-hotline counselor who gets personally involved in a call from a man (Jim Broadbent, voice only) who sounds terminally depressed. In Parvaneh, the title character is a teenage Pakistani immigrant (Nissa Kashani) in Switzerland who wants to send money home to her parents but needs the help of someone with the proper ID to help her do so. She finds the helper (a street kid played by Cheryl Graf), but the encounter ends up being more complicated and more rewarding than expected.

The title character in Aya (Sarah Adler) pretends to be the driver awaiting a Danish music scholar (Ulrich Thomsen) at an Israeli airport, and a beautifully nuanced but slightly odd relationship forms between the two of them on the drive into Jerusalem. In the surprisingly evocative Butter Lamp, a single camera angle suffices to show a succession of Tibetan families posing for an itinerant photographer in front of a series of artificial backdrops.