Nomination: Best Short Film, Live Action - Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
The last few years have marked a career breakthrough for actor Matthias Schoenaerts, a 35 year old who has been acting for over a decade but is just now coming to worldwide attention. His leading roles in Rust and Bone and Bullhead opened up new doors for him, and over the next year he'll appear in Alan Rickman's upcoming directorial effort A Little Chaos and the adaptation of the novel Suite Francaise.
During the time of these career-making roles, Schoenaerts also appeared in a strange but beautiful short film made by writer/director Tom Van Avermaet, "Dood van een Schaduw," translated as "Death of a Shadow." Just over 20 minutes in length, the film tells the story of Nathan Rijckx, a deceased World War I soldier who is tasked with capturing the shadows of 10,000 dead people for a collector, in return for returning to life. While on one of these missions, he sees that the woman he loved before his death is now in love with another soldier, and decides to capture the shadow of this soldier and return to life shortly after his rival's death to reclaim his love.
This detailed and complicated concept would take nearly twenty minutes to describe in a feature length film, but Van Avermaet introduces it with such grace and subtlety that the exposition never feels clunky for a moment. The film is also beautifully shot with deep, rich colors, and the expressiveness of Schoenarts's face is intensely striking.
The film is neither comic nor emotionally wrenching, the two qualities that seem to describe every film nominated in the Best Short Film Live Action category every year. It is instead a lovely and genuine short that I will likely remember long after I have forgotten most of the feature length efforts from the same year.
Remaining: 3133 films, 865 Oscars, 5376 nominations