Movies: Oscar-nominated short films

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From the February 9, 2012 edition

You’d think that with our ever-shortening attention spans, short films would be more popular. Ooh, wait, I’m gonna go tweet that!

OK, what was I saying? Oh, yeah, so short films don’t really get much mainstream attention … until the Academy Award nominations.

Oscar completists, fans of short films and ADD sufferers can check out all the nominated shorts in three programs at the Gateway Film Center. Here are some highlights.

Live action: It’s tough to get much narrative or character development in a short, but these try, particularly the funny and bittersweet Northern Irish export “The Shore.”

I prefer a nice extended joke in this medium. The time-travel farce “Time Freak” fits. It reminds me most of last year’s winner, “God of Love.”

Animated: This is the short form we’re most familiar with, thanks to Pixar, which doesn’t have a dog in this year’s hunt.

The sweeping 17-minute “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” is downright Pixar-esque, fun and elaborate (if not quite magical). My favorite here is “A Morning Stroll,” a simple tale of a New Yorker’s street encounter with a chicken told in different styles and times.

Documentary: This year’s docket is hardly feel-good, but it sure is moving. From a notorious incident that left civilians and journalists dead at the hands of the U.S. military to the struggle for African-American voting rights in the Deep South, this isn’t light fare.

The standout is “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom,” a remarkably moving account of the Japanese tsunami and the resilience of its victims.