As Kris has mentioned before, it’s a shame that “Searching for Sugar Man” appears to be cruising to such an easy win in the Best Documentary Feature race. That’s not because the film, an engaging audience favorite that has won nearly ever major precursor in sight, wouldn’t be a respectable Oscar winner, but because the standard of the competition this year merits a bit more of a fight. Someone who hasn’t seen any of the films this year might simply look at how little the wealth has been spread and assume that “Sugar Man” stands inarguably apart from the field, and that simply isn’t the case.
With most of the films still awaiting a UK release, I’ve been slow to catch up with this year’s nominees. “The Invisible War” still eludes me, but “How to Survive a Plague,” “The Gatekeepers” and “5 Broken Cameras” are all impressive feats of personal and political reportage, as are any number of non-nominees no less (and often rather more) substantial than the frontrunner.
Still, even if the game’s already won, it’s nice to see all the nominees getting their due at an AMPAS showcase for the category, with Oscar-winning documentarian and branch governor Michael Moore hosting a panel discussion with all the nominated directors. It’s a meaty discussion that the Academy has now made available in its entirety on YouTube, and well worth investigating if your interest in this high-level race runs deeper than simply calling the winner.
The Academy also held similar showcase evenings for the documentary short category (hosted again by Moore) and the live action and animated short categories (hosted by Jason Schwartzman), both of which you can view by clicking on the links.
Are you rooting for a major upset in the Doc Feature race? Or are you still sweet on “Sugar Man?”