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15 Best Documentary Finalists

For those who don’t know how the Oscars are chosen, there are certain awards that are narrowed down to a series of finalists which are eventually narrowed down to their respective nominations. Best Make-Up Effects takes seven finalists, while Best Visual Effects has fifteen. Another award that has fifteen submissions is Best Documentary Feature. Those finalists have been listed below, and though I haven’t seen them all, I can tell you that this is an extremely crowded and competitive field.

These are the finalists:

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)

For sure, the showdown for the big prize will end up being the inspirational education rally “Waiting for Superman” by Davis Guggenheim, who won previously for “An Inconvenient Truth,” and the hard-boiled assault on corrupt Wall Street bankers “Inside Job,” by Charles Ferguson, who was shamefully robbed of an Oscar for his enraging look at the Iraq War, “No End in Sight.”

“Waiting for Superman” has some heavyweights backing it up, such as Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates, however “Inside Job” has the added benefit of being extraordinarily good (as I will write in my upcoming review) which sometimes has an influence on the Academy.

My personal favorite in the category, however, would probably be “Restrepo,” the heart-wrenching story of a platoon of soldiers stationed at the most dangerous outpost in all of Afghanistan. It’s a bit too small and unknown to take home the gold, but I’m confident that it can ring in with a darkhorse nomination.

Probably the most surprising omissions from this list are “12th and Delaware” a searing look at the abortion argument by the makers of “Jesus Camp” and “A Film Unfinished,” a film piecing together never-before-seen footage of Holocaust propaganda films made by the Nazis. These are powerful subjects by great filmmakers, and they should have deserved a spot on this list.

Stay tuned for my updated Oscar Predictions which should be coming out within the next few days.

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