UPDATED: Best Documentary Feature Predictions

Current Predictions (10-27-11):
The Interrupters
Project Nim
Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Best Documentary Notes: The recent Cinema Eye Non-Fiction nominations along with news that George Harrison: Living in a Material world will likely not be eligible, shakes this category up quite a bit. As I’ve said, Best Documentary is a bit of a moot point until the Academy unveils it’s 15 film shortlist. It’s a fun thing to try and predict which of the many great non-fiction pieces will even vie for contention though. So many of these films are unseen and this category new approach keeps it more fresh than most.

One film I hadn’t even considered in my initial breakdown was a little gem from Sundance called Position Among the Stars. It follows a small village family in rural Indonesia by pitting old against young and exposing how the changing technological world slowly affects the far reaches of Earth. Ultimately, the story becomes humanistic by conveying how emotions never change no matter what the surroundings. We watch a grandma beg for her granddaughter to go to college and forget about the bad boy boyfriend who consumes so much of her life. It’s a potent and affecting film but one I didn’t expect in  my wildest dreams would come up in the Oscar discussion. It’s too gritty, too obtuse, too foreign. Alas, the Cinema Eye handed a number of its nominations to this tiny film. I suspect realistic Oscar discussion will end right there but it’s fun to think wishfully for now.

The nominations brought to light two facts I already suspected. Firstly, this year’s race hinges on Steve James’ The Interrupters and James Marsh’s Project Nim. Both have opened to enormous acclaim and their respective makers are beloved by the documentary community and the Academy alike. Because of the Hoop Dreams snub, The Interrupters has the early edge. Secondly, Page One: Inside the New York Times could be largely ignored by precursor awards, sinking the solid film into obscurity. The power of Page One comes from it’s deadeyed look at a rapidly evolving industry. I’d be hard-pressed to argue for its emotional power. These awards tend to go with the gut-wrenching over the theoretical. Sadly, Page One may be out.

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
Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
Life in a Day
Position Among the Stars
Cave of Forgotten Dreams

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

George Harrison: Living in the Material World *(not sure this will be eligible)
How to Die in Oregon *(not sure this will be eligible)
Bobby Fischer Against the World *(not sure this will be eligible)

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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