A dozen feature docus now have a shot at copping an Oscar, following an initial round of voting by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voters.
Under a new voting process, the 12 potential winners came from a list of 55 eligible pics. On Feb. 15, five nominees will be picked from the dozen finalists. Those docu noms will be announced along with noms in the 22 other major Oscar categories.
- “Amargosa,” the story of an aged belly dancer, helmed by Todd Robinson;
- “American Movie,” a comical saga by Chris Smith about how indie films are made;
- “Beyond the Mat,” an unauthorized expose of pro wrestling by Barry Blaustein;
- “Buena Vista Social Club,” Wim Wenders’ valentine about Cuban music;.
- “Genghis Blues,” Roko Belic’s take on a blind musician;
- “Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter Jr.,” a depiction of an electric chair maker and Holocaust denier by docu vet Errol Morris;
- “On the Ropes,” a boxing pic by Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen;
- “One Day in September,” an account of shootings at the 1972 Munich Olympics helmed by Kevin MacDonald;
- “Pop & Me,” a look at father-son relationships by director Chris Roe;
- “Smoke and Mirrors: A History of Denial,” a tobacco tale by helmer Torrie Rosenzweig;
- “The Source,” Chuck Workman’s chronicle of the Beat Generation;
- “Speaking in Strings,” a bio by helmer Paola di Florio of virtuoso violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg.
It’s the first year for the two-stage nomination process.
The 12 finalists were chosen by a hand-picked panel of documentarians who divvied up viewing of the total pool of eligible pics.
In the past, anyone from any branch of the Academy could help choose the five nominees as long as they attended a high percentage of screenings.
The old system led to well-publicized omissions of commercial and critical hits such as “Hoop Dreams,” “Crumb” and “The Thin Blue Line.”
Under the new process, the 12 docus vying for noms will be screened in BevHills, Gotham and SanFran. Those screenings are open to all Acad members, who will cast votes for the five nominees.