Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Can We Talk?" The Documentary SnubFest... I Mean Shortlist.

It's inevitable that the Academy's documentary branch has to snub fine films every year. There are usually more than 5 terrific docs a year after all. But even when they narrow it to 15 for the finals, they're always dumping extraordinary movies.  We knew that the buzzy Catfish wouldn't be there but it's a pity that the funny/interesting/popular Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work couldn't place even in a field of 15. I just watched it again in fact and it still holds the interest even after the jokes aren't new. And don't get me started on the phenomenal Last Train Home, the best thing I saw at Sundance this year give or take I am Love and The Kids Are All Right.

Possibly Nominees?
Anyway here's the list of 15 finalists that will have to fight it out for the 5-wide Best Documentary Feature Oscar nominations.
Two thirds of those films won't be going any further than this, since only 5 can become actual Oscar nominees. I guess I need to start watching my screeners as I've seen but one of these (Waiting for Superman) and I didn't even like it. AND it's the one that's going to win.

I realize most people are in love with it but I'll be over here in detention with the handful of other naughty students who aren't bowled over by this lazy teacher (Mr. WaitingForSuperman) whose too busy vilifying another lazy teacher (Mrs. Teacher's Union) and going off on emotion-based tangents to realize that there's not much actual education in this movie.

Anyway, feel free to cry over spilt docs in the comments.
  • High Profile Snubs: 12th and Delaware (on abortion), Armadillo (similar topic to Restrepo), Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (on the infamous comedienne), Catfish (online relations), Last Train Home (China's migration), A Film Unfinished (that's right... they passed over a Holocaust picture!) and Cave of Forgotten Dreams (the 3D film from Werner Herzog). 
Audiences and Critics Loved Her. The Academy Did Not.
Or tell us which film you're rooting for. Not that it's easy to see all of these. But it is easier to see them that it is to see the foreign film contenders.


stjeans said...

What's wrong with these people? I mean "Joan R(...)" is one of the Best film I saw this year (periode) & do they have something agains W.Hergoz? After they snub him for the Brilliant "Grizzly men" now this...

Robert Hamer said...

If I'm going to pick a pony based purely on the person behind them, I would root for Inside Job. Not only was Charles Ferguson's previous film, No End in Sight, one of the best documentaries in years, but he's the only high-profile contender who doesn't have an Oscar already (the other high-profile contenders being Davis Guggenheim and Alex Gibney).

To my shame, I haven't seen any documentaries this year. I hope to correct that this Thanksgiving.

Volvagia said...

I understand snubbing an abortion picture (To quote Billy Mitchell: "If you're for it, you're a son of a gun. And if you're against it, you're a son of a gun") and the Joan Rivers picture (too light for them), but I would have expected the Holocaust picture and Catfish over Bansky and Glenn Gould. But, thankfully, Inside Job will win. Why? Although WfS has the much higher gross, the recession is the baitier topic. (I see the field as this:

Client 9
Inside Job
The Tillman Story
and the final slot being between 6 selections:

Exit Through the Gift Shop (they do occasionally select something fun)
The Lottery
Waiting for Superman
Quest for Honour
Precious Life

With four as "what the hell are you doing here" like every Academy category.)

The Awards Prognosticator said...

Inside Job and Exit Through the Gift Shop are two of the best movies I've seen this year. I'm rooting for either of them!

Timothy Marshall said...

"...whose [sic] to [sic] busy vilifying another lazy teacher..."

Not to be rude...

But I found this line ironic in light of the documentary you're talking about. :-)

No hard feelings, of course, just a fun jab. I haven't seen it yet.

Liz said...

The only one I've seen is "Inside Job," and I would be OK with that winning. It doesn't offer any particularly new or unique insights to the financial crisis, but it's very well made and pretty accessible for people who aren't familiar with how it all went down.

Seeing "Waiting for Superman" this weekend.

OtherRobert said...

Too bad Good Hair was completely forgotten as I predicted as soon as I found out when it was released last October during the first week of eligibility for the 83rd Academy Awards.

Is it wrong to want the better (and by better, I mean not evil half-assed propaganda against the teacher's union) education documentary The Lottery to be nominated and win over Waiting for Superman? Because if it is, I don't want to be right.

Andrew R. said...

I haven't seen any of these, but I want to complain about Client 9.

That movie seems too NOW. It'll be dead in a few years.

Getting a little OT...I do know a little about the Spitzer thing, and apparently, one of his escorts wanted to use him to boost her singing career.

Well, now she's signed with a new record label. "Prostitunes."

(I'm just kidding about that last part, but she really did try to use him for a singing career.)

Robert said...

While everyone will consider Waiting for 'Superman' the front runner, personally I think Inside Job has it in the bag.

It's more definitive of our time, less controversial and Guggenheim already has an Oscar while Ferguson was probably oh so close for No End in Sight.


timothy -- lol. my bad.

Bill_the_Bear said...

The only ones I've seen are "Exit Through the Gift Shop" and "Restrepo." Both were OK, though I prefered "Restrepo."

"Client 9" is opening here tomorrow, and "Inside Job" is playing, so maybe I'll try to catch them this weekend.

I'm really surprised that "A Film Unfinished" didn't make it; that was the best documentary I've seen all year.

Finally, Nat, a correction: "Restrepo" is about US soldiers in Afghanistan, NOT in Iraq.

tesh said...

one word: MARWENCOL
Might be in my top 5 films of the year.

vv said...

Wasn't Armadillo eligible?

Glenn Dunks said...

Nathaniel, Exit Through the Gift Shop is not just "hipster-beloved". Plenty of regular people love it too. In the absence of the superb Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work and Celine: Through the Eyes of the World (ummm...) I'll be rooting for Exit, since it's great.

Alas, I've only seen that and GasLand, which is good, but works better as TV and the narration is a big put off.

You really see Superman winning? I feel like Inside Job has the best chance atm. But, really, what would I know?

Stevee Taylor said...

Gosh, I should probably watch This Way of Life one day. I mean, it was made somewhere around where I live. And a movie being made around here is as rare as...well, it's just damn rare. Everyone says it's really good, but it's been so popular that I've never had the chance to get it out. Good on This Way of Life getting in though!

Alex said...

Somehow I knew they would leave Joan Rivers out, not giving it any more worth than a good episode of "My Life on the D-List" but it's so much more than that. I understand why they did it, it just pains me that they did.

Movies with Abe said...

I just saw "Precious Life" last night at the Other Israel Film Festival and I wouldn't discount that one. It's really quite powerful at times.

Of course, I've only seen "The Lottery" out of all the other contenders and need to get started on seeing everything else. Do you know of a good source that has release dates (theatrical and DVD) for these films?

Kevin said...

Waste Land is genius.


Movies With Abe -- i don't but those links will take you to the official sites and many of those have screening dates or dvd info.

Movies with Abe said...

Thanks, Nathaniel. I may try to put together my own list since these films always seem to get away from me, even more than the foreign films do because I'm often not aware of their contention until long after they've disappeared from theatres.

tff said...

what?! no mention at all of errol morris's Tabloid?! this had to be one of the best films i saw at telluride this year.... is it not eligible or something?


tff -- i don't really know on that. it's so very hard to determine which documentaries are eligible in any given year given that the eligibility is complicated.

RGB said...

I saw Waiting for Superman, and I am very confused by your negative stance on the movie. Without actually doing any research on your own you can discount the information you are hearing just on the basis that it's too damning? Something that the movie doesn't even mention is that in NYC most of the high schools can not afford substitute teachers because of the thousands of unionized teachers getting paid their full salaries that aren't even allowed in classrooms.

When something is broke it needs to be fixed. Charter schools may not be the answer, and I honestly didn't take away the message that they were. What I took away from this movie was that things need to change drastically if we want to succeed as a country. It's an important message and it doesn't deserve to be mocked.

Andy Buckle said...

Exit Through the Gift Shop.