Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Look at the 20 Finalists in the Best Documentary Running

As we get closer and closer to the final Oscar nominations next month, the lists dwindle down to the most likely targets. In the case of Best Documentary, the list has shrunk impressively from its initial 134 selections. Now sitting at a meager 20, we are getting a better look at what will likely make the cut. For those that have been wondering, there's a lot of familiar faces still among them and a few snubs as well.

The following is a list of the documentaries that remain eligible for Best Documentary:

Art and Craft
The Case against 8
Citizen Koch
Finding Vivian Maier
The Internet’s Own Boy
Jodorowsky’s Dune
Keep On Keepin’ On
The Kill Team
Last Days in Vietnam
The Overnighters
The Salt of the Earth
Tales of the Grim Sleeper

For the most part, the most expected films are still in the race. Citizenfour has been on a rampage lately winning all of the critics awards and even winning at The Gotham Awards last night. There is little stopping it from standing any chance in the race to come. Among the other noteworthy films is the hard hitting The Case Against 8, which may get nominated solely based on its relevant subject matter involving gay rights. The Academy has recognized documentaries dealing with gay rights including the AIDS epidemic in How to Survive a Plague. The only issue is that harder hitting subject films are less likely to win with the past two winners (Searching for Sugarman, 20 Feet from Stardom) are more universally accepted and enjoyed. They're wholesome by comparison.

While I still need to see Citizenfour and do believe in its importance, I do feel like we may be looking at a potential Life Itself victory. While my feelings on the documentary have dimmed over time, I still think it does a really good job of bringing one man's life into a bigger narrative about connectivity through movies. Yes, there's more current footage that I personally find a little too tragic to make me love it, but the enthusiasm and quality may be enough to make it work. Simply notice that Citizenfour is like this year's The Act of Killing. It is an important documentary that people will be talking about. However, the Oscars have turned this category into a crowd pleasing section, if just to make them believe that not all documentaries are hard hitting subjects.

With all of this said, I love that Jodorowsky's Dune is still in the race. I love that documentary an awful lot and feel like it is an exceptional look into how film making works. Also, Alejandro Jodorowsky is just a very interesting guy to listen to. I don't care for the film they're discussing, but I do love imagining the way it as put together. Sadly, I cannot say too much about the other films, though I have heard great things about The Overnighters. I will have to do my research on those. Still, the Best Documentary race is dwindling down. What's everyone's thoughts?

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