Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, Jeremy Lin, Naomi Osaka short films qualified for Oscar consideration

An Oscars statuette on display at a screening of the Oscars in Paris, France on 26 April 2021Reuters

Best live-action short, best documentary short, and best animated short are the three Oscar categories that honour movies that are 40 minutes or less. These categories are frequently thought of as “small,” but this year’s contenders for them will have some big names.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Taylor Swift’s directorial debut, ‘All Too Well: The Short Film’, which the pop star has described as “a film about an effervescent, curious young woman who ends up completely out of her depth,” received an Oscar nomination. This news follows recent Academy Awards ceremonies at which celebrities like retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant, former NFL player Matthew A. Cherry, and Hollywood A-lister Riz Ahmed brought home awards for short films.

A decade after the debut of her much-praised power ballad “All Too Well,” Swift wrote and directed the 14-minute film (see it here), which ran at the AMC Lincoln Square for one week last fall, from 12 November (the day of its premiere there) until 18 November.

And while though that time would have disqualified it from the best picture competition this year, which requires a release within the calendar year prior to the Oscars ceremony, it works perfectly for the best live-action short race. The eligibility period for which opened on 1 October, 2021, and ends on 30 September, 2019.

Swift, who has never had an Oscar nomination but is this year gaining attention for her original song “Carolina,” which is used in the film Where the Crawdads Sing, gave ‘All Too Well: The Short Film’ some fresh energy during the Tribeca Film Festival during the summer.

On 11 June, she attended a screening of the movie at a packed Beacon Theatre with her leading lady Sadie Sink (Stranger Things) and her leading man Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf). She then spoke with filmmaker/fan Mike Mills about the movie, citing Barbara Stanwyck’s movies, particularly 1937’s Stella Dallas, as major influences and emphasising, “This is not a music video,” before performing “All Too Well” live for enamoured fans.

Swift is not the only musician whose movie will compete for the Oscar for best live-action short. We Cry Together, a six-minute short movie directed by Kendrick Lamar and starring Taylour Paige from Zola and based on the song of the same name from his May album Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, was quietly shown at the Laemmle Royal Theater in West Los Angeles from 3 June through 9 June, earning it entry into the competition.

According to what I’ve been informed, pgLang, a business that Lamar and Dave Free recently founded, four-walled Laemmle’s 180-seat main theatre for one screening every day, which was overseen by a specialised outside security team that also took attendance data from each visitor’s phones. The majority of individuals present were relatives and friends of those involved in the initiative, while about 20 members of the general public were also allowed to purchase tickets.

‘38 at the Garden’, another film with well-known personalities tied to it, revisits the life of former New York Knicks basketball player Jeremy Lin, who unexpectedly rose to prominence a decade ago and dominated the NBA during a time known as “Linsanity”, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

The film, for which CNN host Lisa Ling granted a rare interview, is produced by 2021 best live action short Oscar winner Travon Free (who, for Two Distant Strangers, became that award’s first Black winner), and it serves as the directorial debut of Asian-American Frank Chi, who owns a political creative agency in the DC area. Since its Tribeca premiere in June, the film has brought both laughter and tears to audiences.

‘Mink!’, the biography of the late Patsy Takemoto Mink, who was the first person of colour ever elected to the US House of Representatives and a co-author of the important piece of legislation known as Title IX, is another documentary short that the 31-year-old Proudfoot has in the running this year.