Looking for an advantage in filling out your Oscar pool? Tampa Theatre offers an inside track by showcasing this year's nominated live action and animated shorts, traditionally two tough categories to pick.
The shorts are divided by technique into two individually ticketed collections, with show dates and times alternating throughout the engagement. Check the historic venue's website at tampatheatre.org or call (813) 274-8981 to confirm what's showing when.
The animated session begins with one you may have seen: Disney's delightful throwback Get a Horse!, currently playing before screenings of Frozen. Get a Horse! blends a vintage Mickey Mouse (scrawny appendages, Uncle Walt's voice) and modern 3-D that won't be used at Tampa Theatre. But you'll get the ingeniously nostalgic idea, and a feeling the academy will lean this way.
Room on the Broom boasts the starriest vocal cast of the animated collection, with Simon Pegg narrating the tale of a clumsy witch (X-Files' Gillian Anderson) and her new friend (Blue Jasmine's supporting actress nominee Sally Hawkins). Other animated nominees include the Miyazaki-like ghost story Possessions, a stop-motion steampunk fantasy titled Mr. Hublot, and Feral, the story of a boy raised in the wild then released into public school.
A few 'toons that didn't make the Oscar cut are included to pad the running time, including The Blue Umbrella, a Pixar short seen before Monsters University.
In the live action collection, Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything) earned praise for its harrowing story of a mother and child escaping their domestic abuser. Sounding even darker is Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me), in which an African child soldier boasts of the atrocities he committed. On the sappier side, Helium traces the bond between a dying child and a hospital custodian.
The mood lightens with Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?), in which a family madly dashes to attend a wedding. Finally there's The Voorman Problem, starring Martin Freeman (The Hobbit) as a prison psychologist dealing with a dangerous patient.
Steve Persall, Times movie critic