Best Documentary Feature Predictions

Current Predictions (10-13-11):
The Interrupters
Project Nim
George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Page One: Inside the New York Times

Best Documentary Notes: The only thing keeping up with the new-found creativity behind television is non-fiction. Everybody with a camera seems to be making inspiring documentaries, it’s hard to keep up. Sadly, many great films are falling through the cracks but this is a better problem then there not being enough great films to begin with. The documentary field gets more and more difficult to predict every year as critically acclaimed documentaries are being released seemingly every week. Without the shortlist for this category, it’s really a crap shoot to guess which way the academy will swing. The documentary branch is, by its nature, a very progressive group of voters that consistently defy trends (as seen by the shocking inclusion of Gasland last year). As such a young category (at least in the present state of documentary) it’s hard to say which way voters will go.

The Interrupters has a very strong chance of getting in. It might even be the frontrunner right now. The Academy still has a black eye from leaving out Hoop Dreams 17 years ago. Steve James’ new project is not quite as groundbreaking but it’s just as moving and has garnered tremendously good reviews. I have a sneaking suspicion this one will be the ultimate winner.

James Marsh’s Project Nim also has a good chance of getting recognized. Marsh’s win a few years ago for Man on Wire will probably hurt his chance for another victory but a nomination looks good. Nim has been heralded as another fantastic non-fiction work by this visionary. The film has drawn some controversy which could work for it or against it. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t at least shortlisted.

The other three slots are completely up in the air. I’ll go with Errol Morris based on reputation, even though Tabloid feels like a slight work compared to his other more biting pieces. Scorsese has been an “it” filmmaker in the non-fiction world over the past few years. Perhaps the Academy will be guilty that it isn’t honoring Hugo so it will go for his doc? Probably not, but who knows. George Harrison: Living in the Material World has been getting raves from festivals so it might get in if it isn’t too niche. Likewise, Page One has put together good reviews and it’s also the kind of documentary that  general audiences will respond to for its relevant newsy topic. I have a feeling this one will not break through but it’s my best guess for now.

Below, I’ve attempted to assemble shortlist and I’ve based my predictions off that. Many of these will be canceled out when the actual shortlist is announced in a month or so.

Shortlist Probables:
Project Nim
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
The Interrupters
Page One: Inside the New York Times
The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls
Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune
Louder Than A Bomb
George Harrison: Living in the Material World
How to Die in Oregon *(not sure this will be eligible)
Bobby Fischer Against the World *(not sure this will be eligible)
Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
Life in a Day

Best of the Rest:
You Don’t Like the Truth: 4 Days in Guantanamo
Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975
If A Tree Falls: A Story of an Earth Liberation Front
We Were Here
Thunder Soul
Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of The Tribe Called Quest

Wishful Thinking:
Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles

Bad Bets:
African Cats
Born to be Wild
Art of the Flight

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