There is traditionally an uproar in the blog-o-sphere when the Academy announces their short lists for Best Documentary Feature and Best Foreign Film. A typical year usually contains enough great entries that not everybody’s favorite will make it into the final cut. It comes as no surprise that the Academy’s announcement today of the 15 feature-length documentary films that have made it to the shortlist leaves out a couple critically acclaimed films.
Among those that made the list include expected frontrunners Inside Job and Waiting for “Superman”. Charles Ferguson’s documentary about the people behind fall of the financial system has gotten almost unanimous praise and was one of the most talked about films at a packed full Cannes Film Festival. Davis Guggenheim’s Waiting for “Superman” examines an issue that is continually moving to the forefront of American political and social consciousness.
All five of the films on my Oscar predictions ended up making the cut including the first-person war film Restrepo, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, and graffit artist Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop. The latter film was the most uncertain of the bunch when it came to determining the short list because it flirts with the line of fiction and nonfiction in its experimental narrative.
Notable omissions include the Facebook documentary Catfish, the biographical Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, the post 9/11 dramatic doc The Oath, and the Chinese peasant workers film Last Train Home. Of those I have only seen Catfish, which was a fine film, but no surprise at all that it didn’t make the short list.
The entire list of 15 is below. Let me know which ones you have seen and what are your thoughts.
Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer directed by Alex Gibney
Enemies of the People directed by Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath
Exit through the Gift Shop directed by Banksy
Gasland directed by Josh Fox
Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould directed by Michele Hozer and Peter Raymont
Inside Job directed by Charles Ferguson
The Lottery directed by Madeleine Sackler
Precious Life directed by Shlomi Eldar
Quest for Honor directed by Mary Ann Smothers Bruni
Restrepo directed by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
This Way of Life directed by Thomas Burstyn
The Tillman Story directed by Amir Bar-Lev
Waiting for “Superman” directed by Davis Guggenheim
Waste Land directed by Lucy Walker
William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe directed by Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler
This is the last time documentaries will be eliminated until nominations are announced on Tuesday, January 25, 2011.