The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2013: Live Action

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Here, in your nominated live-action shorts collection, is a five-part diagram of Oscar bait. Henry is the tender account of an elderly musician grasping at the fading memories of his youth. Buzkashi Boys has Kabul kids dreaming of glory in the rough-and-tumble Afghan version of polo, played with a dead goat instead of a ball. Asad, another tale of a kid facing down his fate, is set in a Somali seaside village, and fittingly described in the credits as a tribute to its cast, refugees all, who “lost their country, but not their sense of hope.” The vaguely steampunky French-Belgian concoction Death of a Shadow supplies a lovelorn soldier (Matthias Schoenaerts) stuck in a very peculiar photography gig. And in the moody dramedy Curfew, about a down-and-out young dude who baby-sits his niece, writer-director-star Shawn Christensen shows a fluency of coolly calculated indie mannerisms; it's one of those self-actualizing bids for Hollywood's attention, heir apparent to the Damon-Affleck legacy, and Christensen's surety should carry him far.