Sunday, May 26, 2024

Academy Narrows Documentaries, Eliminates Some Popular Favorites


The Academy documentary committee winnowed the huge list of eligible films from 2012 to these fifteen. This omitted a lot of popular films including one about songwriter/actor/nice guy Paul Williams (“Rainy Days and Mondays,” “We’ve Only Just Begun”) that everyone should see, and Amy Berg’s “West Memphis Three.” Also out is the popular “Queen of Versailles.” (The committee no doubt concurred that this material was better covered by Joe Berlinger’s three “Paradise Lost” films.) I do think “Ethel” doesn’t belong on the list. But “Bully,” “The Gatekeepers,” and “Chasing Ice” are all of immediate importance. My sentimental favorite is “Searching for Sugar Man.” Just the idea of Rodriguez getting on that stage would be tremendous. On the other hand, the kids from “Bully” have made a lasting impact on the culture all year long.

Here’s the list of finalists:

“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” Never Sorry LLC
“Bully,” The Bully Project LLC
“Chasing Ice,” Exposure
“Detropia,” Loki Films
“Ethel,” Moxie Firecracker Films
“5 Broken Cameras,” Guy DVD Films
“The Gatekeepers,” Les Films du Poisson, Dror Moreh Productions, Cinephil
“The House I Live In,” Charlotte Street Films, LLC
“How to Survive a Plague,” How to Survive a Plague LLC
“The Imposter,” Imposter Pictures Ltd.
“The Invisible War,” Chain Camera Pictures
“Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God,” Jigsaw Productions in association with
Wider Film Projects and Below the Radar Films
“Searching for Sugar Man,” Red Box Films
“This Is Not a Film,” Wide Management
“The Waiting Room,” Open’hood, Inc.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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