This year’s Oscar nominees for best live action short film present a variety of contenders, including a dead-serious drama about adoption in India and a charming, absurd comedy about time travel. These shorts can be seen at the Michigan Theater through Feb. 16. Here are the nominees, listed in increasing order of their likelihood of winning the Oscar.

“Pentecost” — Ireland — 11 minutes

“Pentecost,” a short comedy directed by Peter McDonald, tells the story of a young boy obsessed with soccer, whose miscue as an altar boy leads to a broken hip for a priest and a ban on watching soccer for the boy. Fortunately, he gets a chance to redeem himself a few weeks later at an important mass at the local parish, with the threat of never watching soccer again hanging over his head. The film, which gets a bit gimmicky, stretches its church-as-soccer metaphor pretty thin, and it’s too short to develop any real emotional depth. But it’s still offers an ending simultaneously silly and suspenseful.

“Time Freak” — USA — 11 minutes

“Time Freak” skates along on a pretty thin premise, but at just 11 minutes, it’s able to sustain its humor and build an intriguing story. A young scientist in New York invents a time machine, but gets too caught up in petty personal encounters to use it to its full potential. Sometimes the film feels more like a humorous idea your friends came up with than a film, but there are a lot of great comedic moments. The film features smart directing and a brilliant performance by the lead actor, and it’s the funniest of the nominees.

“Raju” — Germany/India — 24 minutes

“Raju” is of an entirely different tone than the first two films. A young German couple travels to Calcutta to adopt a child, but when the husband loses the little boy in the streets of the city, he discovers there’s more to the situation than he had thought. The film deals with some poignant issues of European attitudes toward poorer nations, but also tells a compelling story. Filmed entirely in Calcutta, director Max Zähle captures the gritty vibrancy of the city as he depicts the husband’s struggle among the urban hubbub.

“Tuba Atlantic” — Norway — 25 minutes

“Tuba Atlantic” combines comedy and drama more assuredly than any of the other nominees. The film tells the story of Oskar, an curmudgeon whose doctor tells him he has six days to live. In that time, he tries to reconcile with his estranged brother in America, and forms an unlikely friendship with a lonely teenage girl. While the film feels like it would work better at feature length, it packs a lot into its short run time. From tear-jerking moments on Oskar’s deathbed to machine-gunning seagulls out of the sky, “Tuba Atlantic” manages to balance absurdity and real emotion in its wintry Norwegian milieu, filmed beautifully by director Hallvar Witzø. But the film’s greatest strength is its colorful and complex main character, who simultaneously elicits tears and laughter.

“The Shore” — Northern Ireland — 30 minutes

“The Shore,” directed by Terry George (“Hotel Rwanda”), tells the story of a man returning to his native country of Northern Ireland after 25 years in the United States. Once home, he must reconcile with his best friend, whom he abandoned years ago when he left for America. The film is beautifully shot, capturing the dreary grayness and scenic idyll of Belfast in equal measure — and all the performances are spot on. The film abounds with amusing and tender moments, and though its tension is resolved a little too easily, “The Shore” tells a cogent story, one that is personal and universal.

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