This year's crop of Academy Award nominated Live Action and Animated shorts might well have been called the "longs." It takes nearly 4 hours to watch all ten of them back-to-back. As a whole package, none of them gets anywhere near masterpiece status, but none are particularly awful, either. The longest one, the Danish live action film, At Night, looks to be the sure-fire winner, setting its luxurious 40 minutes in the cancer ward of a hospital between Christmas and New Year's. Three young women (Julie Ølgaard, Laura Christensen and Neel Rønholt) deal with their illnesses in various ways while agreeing to meet up together for their own private New Year's party. This one was practically made for awards.
The 36-minute The Tonto Woman is a mini-Western based on an Elmore Leonard story (it's available in the same collection as "3:10 to Yuma"). But somehow it plods a little too slowly and heavily to capture Leonard's usual zing. It's somber and grave and rather ignores outdoor spaces and rhythms. The French The Mozart of Pickpockets (31 minutes) is a tad cutesy and predictable; two blundering would-be pickpockets find themselves in the company of a mute child -- who happens to be quite skilled at the same job.