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Date Night #7 - Oscar Shorts with Rachel and Tobin

Many moons ago, our friends Rachel and Tobin invited us to watch the Oscars' Short Film nominations at a local theater. We didn't know that was 'a thing', and were ever so happy they lured us into their secret! Essentially, all the nominated short films are compiled into one showing so you can watch them before the awards are announced. It's great, because you not only get to see the best of the best, but it gives you an 'inside track' for the Oscar ceremony. We rarely see even a couple of the nominated feature films, so it's kind of exciting when you've seen all the contenders in a given category! We thoroughly enjoyed the film shorts our first time around, and vowed to make it a yearly tradition.

Of course, life had other plans for us. We're all entrepreneurs with ridiculously busy schedules, and before we knew it, years had gone by without a single repeat performance. In the spirit of Date Night, we decided this is the year to get back on track! While we were in Mexico, David and I realized Oscar night would be the day after we arrived home, so we only had that Sunday afternoon to make it happen. We knew we had to plan ahead, and fortunately all the pieces fell into place - Rachel and Tobin were enthusiastically on board, there was a showing in Lincolnshire that afternoon, and we were able to book tickets online - check, check, and check!

We met at the theater just ahead of the showing. It was snowing that afternoon, which was an extreme contrast from the 80 degree weather we had just left the morning before! We were there a few minutes early, so we had a bit of a chance to catch up with Rachel and Tobin, which was nice. We generally see them a couple times a year when we stop by their shop Epilogue in Long Grove (fabulous store, by the way). We're always thrilled to see each other, and we invariably talk about how we really need to get together soon, and lament about the fact that we're just too busy. As we chatted in the theater lobby, we unanimously agreed that there really is time... we just need to take it! Thanks, Date Night!!

The Oscar Shorts are like tapas for the mind - ten mini-masterpieces carefully crafted to capture your imagination, each one a culmination of creative genius that begs to be your favorite. This showing included two of the three shorts categories: live action and animation. Each category consisted of five films ranging from 7 to 23 minutes, which meant the entire experience lasted about three and a half hours. They first showed the live action films and then the animation, with an intermission in between. Thank God for intermissions!

I won't delve into each short (you should watch them all for yourself), but I will share a few observations. First, it's amazing how quickly these films capture your attention and establish a meaningful connection with the characters. Within minutes, you're fully absorbed into the story-line and have made an emotional investment into the surprisingly complex characters. Many feature films don't succeed in doing that in two hours! Second, it's interesting to see how closely the films reflect current social perspectives. While the shorts we saw several years ago seemed to span a wide range of topics and moods - a virtual emotional roller-coaster experience - this year's collection tended to be much darker, centering around complex societal issues like immigration, drug trafficking, terrorism, domestic violence, animal abuse, aging / eldercare, and serious health issues. To be sure, there were a few fun and quirky diversions, but overall it was a rather somber ensemble. Third, it's almost as interesting to watch the audience as it is the films! In just about every feature, there were audible gasps, sighs, and occasional sniffles and sobs. The four of us were no exception! The effects of these movies were poignant and palpable, which is a testament to the quality of their art!

After our emotion-tugging cinematic journey had concluded, we decided to head to Tokio Sake, to reflect on the films while we dined on some sushi (which was fabulous, by the way). For the animated shorts, we were most enamored with Memorable (from France) and Daughter (from Chechnya). For the live action films, we were drawn toward The Neighbor's Window (from U.S.), A Sister (from Belgium), and Saria (from U.S.). We chatted for quite a while about the impact each of the movies had on us, and our conversation often drifted to the ups and downs of things happening in our personal lives and the polarized world in which we live. It made for captivating conversation and was a wonderful way to catch up. Before we knew it, dinner was over and the Oscars were about to begin! We said our goodbyes, promised we would get together again soon, and raced home to see which of the films snagged the coveted awards!

It wasn't until we were in the car and on our way home that we realized we didn't take any pictures of date night! Not one! Crap! We must have been muddled with vacation brain and suffering from a bit of culture and climate shock after our trip.

Just as we were settling in at home, we received a text from Rachel and Tobin that Hair Love won the Oscar for animated short. We were a little surprised by that one, as it didn't rise to the top of our short list (see what I did there?), but like all the films, it was worthy of the nomination and the win. We then watched with bated breath as The Neighbor's Window won best live action short. That did rise to the top of our short list, and we were pleasantly surprised, as we had predicted Saria for the win. I guess that's why Vegas places odds on these things... you never know who's going to take the gold!

Since we hadn't yet taken any official pictures of Date Night, we each captured selfies in front of our respective televisions with the Oscars in the background so we could memorialize the evening. Better late than never!

Thanks again to Rachel and Tobin for cluing us in to the Oscar Shorts experience, and for joining us in yet another wonderful Date Night! We need to get together more often!

One final note to those of you who may have noticed on Facebook... this is the exact event I was booking in the picture that David posted, where speculation arose that I had committed a WWL infraction (working while lunching) in Mexico. Not true! I promise!!! :-)

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