Monday, December 17, 2012

Dec Oscar Buzz and Predictions - Docs of Any Length

     I forgot how much research has to go into the genre categories.  After this post, I'm going to skip Live Action Shorts and Foreign Language Film for a minute until the FLF committee releases their short list.  That's good.  The screenplays will seem very relaxing by comparison.  I know who wrote them.  Let's get hoppin...

Best Documentary Short
     As I did with Animated Short, I'm not going to presume to argue with the buzz, so I'll just present commentary with it.
  1. Open Heart...Already an International Documentary Association nominee for Best Short, this film is by former AFI fest winner and Directors Guild nominee Kef Davidson.
  2. The Education of Mohammad Hussein...This film was made by Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady, the Oscar nominated duo who made such feature length docs as Jesus Camp, Boys of Baraka, 12th and Delaware, and this year's contender Detropia.
  3. Mondays at Racine - Another IDA nominee this year, this picture is directed by Cynthia Wade, who won this category previously with the film Freeheld.
  4. Inocente...Directors Sean Fine and Andrea Nix are former Documentary Feature winners for the film War Dance.
  5. Redemption...Jon Alpert & Matthew O'Neil have directed one former nominee in this category,  China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province (which I have actually seen, and was very impressed by).

  6. Paraiso...This is the first film by Fillipino director Christine Dianne Aquino.
  7. Kings Point...Another IDA nominee that marks the directorial debut of Sari Gillman.
  8. The Perfect Fit..This short by director Tali Yankelevich made a small splash at the Chicago International Film Festival.

Best Documentary Feature
     It is notable that the release of the Academy's short list shook this category up considerably, as it is wont to do. There were several notable exclusions, most glaringly:  Central Park 5, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Marley, The Queen of Versailles, and West of Memphis.  Marley is the sort of bio-doc that rarely gets in.  The same goes for Jiro, which may have seemed too light as well.  A lack of gravity may also have been The Queen of Versailles' undoing.  West of Memphis may have felt like a replay of the Paradise Lost series, which was honored just last year in this category.  Central Park 5?  Whatever the reasons that these films failed to make the short list, they were all much higher profile than half of the movies that did.  That being said...
  1. Searching For Sugar Man
  2. How To Survive a Plague
  3. The Gatekeepers
  4.(1) Bully
  5. Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God

  6.(2) The Invisible War
  7. The Impostor
  8. Ai Wei Wei:  Never Sorry
  9.(4) The House I Live In
  10. Detropia
  Leaving the rankings:  Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Ethel, This Is Not a Film, The Island President, West of Memphis, The Queen of Versailles, Under African Skies
     I almost just let this list speak for itself, but there were a COUPLE of pointed changes that I wanted to make...
  1. How To Survive A Plague...Documentarian David France's first feature has already won him a Gotham Award and a New York Film Critics Circle award for Best First Film.  After snubbing the excellent AIDS documentary We Were Here, might the Academy be ready to "make it up" to the issue?
  2. Bully...I don't care what anybody says, Harvey Weinstein is GOING to get his horse into this race one way or another.
  3. Searching For Sugar Man...Director/editor Malik Bendjelloul's debut effort has already won honors from the International Documentary Association, Sundance, and the National Board of Review.  Only AMPAS's apparent aversion to bio-docs as a rule keeps me from proclaiming it the front runner.
  4. The Gatekeepers...Former cinematographer Dror Moreh's directorial effort has already won with the Los Angeles Film Critics and is building buzz quickly.
  5. The Imposter...Made by Bart Leyton (another first time director) this film is also building quickly in buzz, ever since winning the Documentary category at the British Independant Film Awards.

  6. Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In the House of God...Legendary documentarian Alex Gibney (Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Elliot Spitzer, Casino Jack and the United States of Money, Taxi To The Dark Side) could certainly be seen as overdue for a nomination and this winner of the British Film Institute's Giverson Award could easily replace one of the five film I've listed above.
  7. The Invisible War...Although buzz has waned a bit for this Sundance Audience Award winner, it is one of the few films that remain from last update's top ten, so it is staying on some people's minds.
  8. The House I Live In...I'm much more excited to see this film from two time Sundance GRAND JURY prize winner Eugene Jarecki (another one overdue for his first nod), but its buzz has REALLY waned.
  9. Ai Wei Wei:  Never Sorry...This doc just looks so promising that I'm going to keep it in the top ten even though I can't see the Oscars embracing two bio-docs in one year.
  10. This Is Not a Film...It would be an almost stupidly brave move for the Academy to embrace this movie, but nowhere near as brave as documentarian Jafar Panahi was in making making

Related Posts: Nov/Dec Oscar Buzz and Predictions: It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (preview), Musical Techs (Score and Song), Noisy Techs (Sound Editing and Sound Mixing), Pretty People Techs (Hairstyling and Make-up & Costume), Pretty Picture Techs (Production Design and Cinematography), Finishing Touch TechsToons of Any Length (Animated Short and Animated Feature),
Promarlius Kingdom (review for Marley), Hysterical Peace of Purgatory (Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory review), Pariahs Were Here On the Rampart (We Were Here review), September Oscar Buzz and Predictions - The Genres

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