Making A Scene consists of 11 shorts, each one starring a different actor. The three released to YouTube spotlight Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett, and Oprah (who all had brilliant on-screen moments in 2013), and the New York Times website is home to further shorts starring everyone from Bradley Cooper to Adele Exarchopolous to Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Each short features just one line, and each line was penned by further Hollywood talent, including Spike Jonze, Ethan Hawke, and Seth Rogen. The whole puzzle is tied together by Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kamiński, who is best known for his work on literally every Steven Spielberg film of the past 20 years.
So with all of that talent in place, the shorts have to be good, right? Well, that depends on your definition of ‘good’. Each short is strange, beautifully shot, and puzzling. Making A Scene may be a deep recognition of personal acting styles, or it may be a load of overblown, pretentious tripe. It depends on your point of view.
The New York Times undertook a similar endeavor last year when it hosted a series called Wide Awake that starred the year’s best actresses. As with Making A Scene, those shorts were tough to crack but visually stunning. Two of the women featuring in that gallery ended up bringing home Oscars, so perhaps the road to a gold statuette now runs through the New York Times and its unusual web video presence.