All this week I’ll be reviewing the Oscar nominees for best live-action short, which open Friday at Landmark’s Century Centre. Check back this time tomorrow for the next installment.

The best picture competition may be dominated by American movies (the only “foreign” titles nominated this year are Midnight in Paris, a Woody Allen movie, and The Artist, a silent movie set in Hollywood), but the race for best live-action short is decidedly more international, with entries from Ireland, Germany, and Norway. Directed by Terry George (Hotel Rwanda), the touching and funny drama The Shore follows an Irish expatriate (Ciaran Hinds) as he returns with his grown daughter (Kerry Condon) after 25 years in the United States; the visit unexpectedly reunites him with the woman he might have wed had he stayed (Maggie Cronin), who’s now married to his best friend from the old days (Conleth Hill). This may sound like a staid premise, but the story is beautifully written and played, and George manages to capture the feel of an Irish folk tale not through narration or some other pointer but through his deft balancing of heartache and comedy (the sharpest scene is a hilarious misunderstanding by the sea as the two men finally meet again). A trailer follows the jump.