Another Oscar season, another opportunity to wonder aloud why it is that, in this age of supposedly dwindling attention spans, there has not been an explosion of interest in the short-film form. The live-action slate features a trio of heartrending horrors: It Wasn’t Me (child soldiers in Africa), Helium (terminally ill child), and Just Before Losing Everything (wife beating). The last takes the most artful approach, focusing on the mundane complications involved in pulling out of a bad situation before it gets any worse — and without interference from the man who shares your life. The other two are over-the-top brutal (with a dollop of present-day hope to thin your curdled blood) and outrageously sentimental, respectively. Comic relief comes in two flavors: British black and nasty (The Voorman Problem) and Finnish sweet and simple (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?). Every entry has this in common: a willingness to "go there." (2014) — Matthew Lickona
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