My favorite Oscars movie isn't nominated for Best Picture — it's nominated for Best Live Action Short Film

Benedict Cumberback in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar
(Image credit: Netflix)

When it comes to the 2024 Oscars, everyone has different awards they're invested in. But I bet you most people won't be paying much attention to the awarding of Best Live Action Short Film.

Not me though. Because when I look through the 2024 Oscars nominations my favorite movie on the list isn't "Oppenheimer" or even "Poor Things." It's "The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar"  from acclaimed director Wes Anderson. 

This 39-minute Netflix movie is just brilliant. Yes, it may be "Asteroid City" that got all the buzz this year, but this is the better movie of the two Wes Anderson projects. It's part of a larger project where Anderson adopts Roald Dahl stories for the streaming service, and while there are four others also on Netflix, "The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar" is definitely the headliner.

This short story is perfect as a short film

"The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar" is the tale of a man (Benedict Cumberbatch) who makes a fortune from gambling. One day he comes across the diary of a doctor (Dev Patel) who met a man who could see without his eyes (Ben Kingsley). After reading this tale, the gambling man uses the teachings within to reach a meditative state that allows him to see the faces of cards that are face down. This allows him to amass a small fortune, and his accountant commissions Roald Dahl (Ralph Fiennes) to write his story under the pseudonym Henry Sugar.

As you can see, this is an incredible cast. There are nine acting Oscars nominations and a win (Ben Kingsley in "Gandhi") between those four actors, who make up over half the movie's tight cast. They're well suited for the task too. The movie feels like a costumed table reading or a play designed to shown be as a movie. That's an intentional choice too, as Anderson modeled the film after the program “BBC Play for Today” (h/t IndieWire)

But it's not just the acting that's worth watching. The set design is incredible. Not shocking given Anderson's consistent ability to render gorgeous feature-length films, but it is truly impressive nonetheless. Especially with the need to employ visual tricks more in line with a play than a movie. Don't expect any CGI from this movie, every backdrop feels like a handcrafted set.

This blend of acting and production blends together in a tight 39-minute-long movie. Given that many films span over two hours, anything short of that feels relatively tight, but even for something this brief, the pacing is tight and crisp. You move from one scene to the other before there's even a chance to think about checking your phone and you still get the charm and quick, witty dialogue that you come to expect from a feature-length Anderson film.

"The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar" is almost certain to win an Oscar — the first for an Anderson film since "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and the first he'll receive personally. So go watch the short film now on Netflix before it transforms from Oscar nominee to Oscar winner.

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.