Shortlisted: 15 Documentary Features In Contention For Oscar

The enormous list of this year’s eligible documentaries has been whittled down to fifteen. First off all, let it be known that I have not seen any of these documentaries yet, but I have seen almost all of their trailers. Of the bunch, there are clear frontrunners which will likely get nominated and a few that are completely up in the air. If there was one documentary I would put all my chips on, it would be the Roger Ebert feature, “Life Itself”. With his recent passing and the unfathomable amount of support for him in the entertainment industry, that will be an easy vote for the Academy whether they have seen the film or not.

Having not seen the films, the rest I have to go on by the subject matter and films that people are talking about. One that I have heard about a lot recently is  “Citizenfour,” which provides an almost behind the scenes look at the man Edward Snowden and his involvement in the leaking of U.S. government secrets. Also, “Last Days In Vietnam” has the war subject matter and the archival footage angles that the Academy tends to gravitate towards, depicting the imagery following the U.S. pulling out of Vietnam and the aftermath that was left in making that decision. On most Oscar watcher websites, they mention this one as a top contender. Another film I have heard mentions is “The Overnighters,” which takes place in North Dakota where the oil boom has people flocking to find work and in turn become homeless because of it, and the pastor that, despite the community’s outcry, has opened his doors to these men and women.

The rest are anyone’s guess, but there are a few that looked entertaining that I have been meaning to catch, which could also translate into the Academy giving them more of a chance. “Art And Craft” is a humor based look at the cat and mouse chase between an old art forger and the man trying to bring him to justice. “Finding Vivian Maier” tells the unique story of a nanny whose collection of 100,000 photographs are now finally seeing the light of day. “Virunga” definitely has the unique factor as well, as a team from around the world have gathered to protect the last remaining mountain gorillas in the world. This one is also currently available on Netflix Instant, which could mean it is reaching more voter’s eyes. And never count out the rallying cry of people who support a) the deceased Aaron Swartz, whose documentary “The Internet’s Own Boy” takes a look at his work as “a programming prodigy and information activist” and b) same-sex marriage and their struggles at the Supreme Court, which is highlighted in the film “The Case Against 8”.

If you missed the complete list earlier this week, here it is:

  • “Art and Craft,” Purple Parrot Films
  • “The Case against 8,” Day in Court
  • “Citizen Koch,” Elsewhere Films
  • “CitizenFour,” Praxis Films
  • “Finding Vivian Maier,” Ravine Pictures
  • “The Internet’s Own Boy,” Luminant Media
  • “Jodorowsky’s Dune,” City Film
  • “Keep On Keepin’ On,” Absolute Clay Productions
  • “The Kill Team,” f/8 filmworks
  • “Last Days in Vietnam,” Moxie Firecracker Films
  • “Life Itself,” Kartemquin Films and Film Rites
  • “The Overnighters,” Mile End Films West
  • “The Salt of the Earth,” Decia Films
  • “Tales of the Grim Sleeper,” Lafayette Film
  • “Virunga,” Grain Media

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