Film News: Academy Announces 15 Finalists For 2010 Best Documentary

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CHICAGO – Every year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences reveals their short list for the Oscar for Best Documentary and every year there’s a notable snub or two that makes one question the process. Last year, “Anvil: The Story of Anvil,” one of the most-beloved films of the year, didn’t make the cut. This year, “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” failed to make the cut, continuing a pattern in which films not deemed “serious enough” by Academy members can’t get past the first round.

The Tillman Story
The Tillman Story
Photo credit: The Weinstein Company

Luckily, a number of the best documentaries of 2010 were serious enough to pass Academy muster including several films about the economy, a few about the war in Iraq, and a pair of controversial docs about the failures of our current educational system. It should be an interesting battle for the final five in this category.

The Documentary Branch Screening Committee viewed all of the eligible documentaries in the preliminary round of voting and now Documentary Branch members will select the five nominees from the following 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)

What will be the final five? The popular and critically-beloved “Inside Job,” “The Tillman Story,” and “Waiting for ‘Superman’” seem likely but this category has a history of producing surprises. Critics have loved “Exit to the Gift Shop” but it could be deemed not important enough. They have given it to Alex Gibney in the past which could usher in “Client 9.” “The Lottery,” “Restrepo,” and “Gasland” all have loyal fans. It should be an interesting race.

The Academy Award nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 and presented on Sunday, February 27th. Stay tuned to for news, predictions, and previews of the big night. content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

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