The Academy has narrowed the field of 147 documentary feature contenders to 15, and the key omissions appear to be Alex Gibney’s “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks,” Martha Shane and Lana Wilson’s “After Tiller” and and Errol Morris’ “The Unknown Known,” among others.
However, Gibney can take heart that his other 2013 project, “The Armstrong Lie,” was on the list. And most of the year’s critical hits of the form – “The Act of Killing,” “Blackfish,” “Stories We Tell” – survived the slaughter.
As documentary filmmaking continues to thrive in a golden age, it’s wonderful to see such diverse, exceptional and distinct work continue to be recognized, even if these annual prunings can be maddening at times. What’s left is always exemplary, and that’s certainly the case this year.
My assumption is that “20 Feet from Stardom,” “Tim’s Vermeer” and “Blackfish” are among the strongest contenders. “The Act of Killing” and “Stories We Tell” may be critical smashes but I wouldn’t be shocked if the notoriously fickle branch bristles at them for this reason or that. I would also watch out for “The Square” and a little film that serves as a testament to those who capture the world of non-fiction for the rest to see: “Which Way is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington.”
Check out the full list below and feel free to let us know what YOU think will be nominated from the 15.
“The Act of Killing,” Final Cut for Real
“The Armstrong Lie,” The Kennedy/Marshall Company
“Blackfish,” Our Turn Productions
“The Crash Reel,” KP Rides Again
“Cutie and the Boxer,” Ex Lion Tamer and Cine Mosaic
“Dirty Wars,” Civic Bakery
“First Cousin Once Removed,” Experiments in Time, Light & Motion
“God Loves Uganda,” Full Credit Productions
“Life According to Sam,” Fine Films
“Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer,” Roast Beef Productions
“The Square,” Noujaim Films and Maktube Productions
“Stories We Tell,” National Film Board of Canada
“Tim”s Vermeer,” High Delft Pictures
“20 Feet from Stardom,” Gil Friesen Productions and Tremolo Productions
“Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington,” Tripoli Street