The Academy Award for Live Action Short Film (and its animated and documentary counterparts) tend to be one of those categories during the ceremony that everyone treats as a break –for the bathroom, to grab more snacks, to catch up on the live-tweeting, etc. The majority of those watching at home (and a fair share of those in the audience, too) haven't even seen any of the nominees, and probably won't get a chance to see them in the future, either. Only Oscar die-hards bother to hunt down viewings for the nominated short films.
But every so often, the category features someone of note – either at the time, or a nominee who will go on to make a name for him or herself later on. Jury's out on this year's nominees, but here are seven notable Short Film Oscar winners in the category's history that show even the minor categories can have the big names.
Peter Capaldi, Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life (1994)
The man playing the latest reincarnation of The Doctor is, yes, an Academy Award winner. Capaldi won the Oscar for directing the absurdist short film depicting Franz Kafka as he writes The Metamorphosis. Capaldi isn't as well known in the U.S. as he is in Britain, but he is surely among the most famous Short Film winners.
Christine Lahti, Lieberman in Love (1995)
The 1990s were a good time for Short Film winners. Perhaps most famous for her Emmy-winning role as Dr. Kathryn Austin on Chicago Hope, Lahti won her Short Film Oscar for directing a short film based on W.P. Kinsella's short story, which she also acted in. It was her first Oscar win, but not her first nomination – Lahti had a chance at an acting statue for her role in 1984's Swing Shift.
David Frankel, Dear Diary (1996)
Another '90s winner, David Frankel – who would later go on to direct mainstream comedies like The Devil Wears Prada, Marley & Me, and Hope Springs – won for Dear Diary. Fun fact: Originally the pilot episode of a television show that never aired, Dear Diary cost over $1 million to make, a good deal more than the typical short film. It was Frankel's only Oscar nomination, but he won an Emmy for directing the pilot episode of Entourage.
Andrea Arnold, Wasp (2004)
Arnold won the Jury Prize for Fish Tank at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009, helping to launch Michael Fassbender lust initiative in the process, but before that, she took home the Oscar for her short film Wasp.
Martin McDonagh, Six Shooter (2005)
The Irish playwright behind the Oscar-nominated script for In Bruges, McDonagh won an Academy Award for his short film, which follows a newly widowed Brendan Gleeson shortly after his wife has died.
Steven Wright, The Appointments of Dennis Jennings (1988)
Steven Wright is best known as a stand-up comedian (playing himself on TV series like The Larry Sanders Show and Louie), but he won an Oscar for co-writing and starring in The Appointments of Dennis Jennings, which also featured Rowan Atkinson. Watch the film below – it's a bummer, but it's hilarious.
Taylor Hackford, Teenage Father (1978)
The former president of the Directors Guild of America, Taylor Hackford won his only Oscar for Teenage Father, though he was nominated for directing the Ray Charles biopic Ray.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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