Here’s some more news from the toadsuckers and dumbfugs who make up the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. These are the people who give out the Academy Awards and who continue to insist that Crash, Titanic, Gladiator, Braveheart, Gandhi, The Sound of Music, Rocky, American Beauty, The Greatest Show on Earth, and How Green Was My Valley were all great films. Yes, those people.
Anyway, along with giving out Oscars for best picture, best director, and all the other awards that the general public actually cares about, the Academy also gives out an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Occasionally, this category does get some notice. For instance, there’s always the chance that Michael Moore will win another Oscar and start foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog again and Al Gore might give another award-winning power point presentation in the near future. But for the most part, most people just see Best Documentary as just another roadblock on the journey between Best Supporting Actress and Best Picture.
Which is a shame because Best Documentary is usually a pretty fun category to try to predict. Since hardly anyone has seen (or heard) of the majority of the nominees, you can simply pick one at random, say something vaguely serious-sounding about it, and people will assume that you’re far smarter than you ever possibly could be. For me, the best thing about the documentary category is that, since you’ll probably never actually see most of the films nominated, your final opinion on the winner is often based on the acceptance speech. If the documentarian gives a funny or sentimental speech then suddenly you realize that Gabby: The Girl Who Could Have Been is the greatest freaking documentary ever made. And if his speech is strident or angry or boring then you’ll spend the next week wondering how the Academy could ever honor a piece of trash like Pelosi: Amazon From The Bay.
Anyway, the Documentary Branch of the Academy announced the 15 finalists for the Oscar for Best Feature-Length Documentary of 2010. From these 15, the final five nominees will be determined.
Here’s the list:
“Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer,” Alex Gibney, director (ES Productions LLC)
“Enemies of the People,” Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath, directors (Old Street Films)
“Exit through the Gift Shop,” Banksy, director (Paranoid Pictures)
“Gasland,” Josh Fox, director (Gasland Productions, LLC)
“Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould,” Michele Hozer and Peter Raymont, directors (White Pine Pictures)
“Inside Job,” Charles Ferguson, director (Representational Pictures)
“The Lottery,” Madeleine Sackler, director (Great Curve Films)
“Precious Life,” Shlomi Eldar, director (Origami Productions)
“Quest for Honor,” Mary Ann Smothers Bruni, director (Smothers Bruni Productions)
“Restrepo,” Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, directors (Outpost Films)
“This Way of Life,” Thomas Burstyn, director (Cloud South Films)
“The Tillman Story,” Amir Bar-Lev, director (Passion Pictures/Axis Films)
“Waiting for ‘Superman’”, Davis Guggenheim, director (Electric Kinney Films)
“Waste Land,” Lucy Walker, director (Almega Projects)
“William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe,” Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler, directors (Disturbing the Universe LLC)
If Exit Through the Gift Shop (which is currently my choice for the best film of 2010) had failed to appear on this list, I would have thrown a fit. Luckily, there it is. Will it make the final five? It better.
As for the other finalists, I’ve only seen Restrepo and Waiting for Superman and they’re both deserving of at least a nomination. However, I’m hoping that the film about William Kunstler gets a nomination just because I’m hoping that whoever presents the award this year will mispronounce Kunstler and get the Academy broadcast fined by the FCA.
It’s also interesting to note that I’ve probably gone to more documentaries this year than any other. And yet, I’ve only seen 3 of the 15 finalists. Certainly, I guess I could go see Inside Job this weekend but do I really need a documentary to tell me that the economy is fucked up? Seriously. The trailer — featuring Matt Damon interrogating a bunch of Wall Street types — just comes across as being incredibly smug. Client 9 should be opening up down here in Dallas pretty soon as well and I’ll probably see it but I’m not going to cry if I miss the opportunity to spend two hours with Eliot Spitzer.
To me, the best documentaries of 2010 include — along with Restrepo, Waiting for Superman, and Exit Through The Gift Shop (the best film of 2010, did I mention that?) — Winnebago Man, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, The Best Worst Movie, and (arguably) Catfish.
The toadsuckers disagree.