Academy shortlists top nonfiction features

War-themed films are centerstage on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ shortlist of 15 films that will compete for the five nominee spots in the Oscars’ feature-length docu category.

Among the Iraq-themed documentaries are Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro’s “Body of War,” Charles Ferguson’s “No End in Sight,” Alex Gibney’s “Taxi to the Dark Side” and Richard Robbins’ “Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience.”

Other war-centered pics include Steven Okazaki’s “White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Richard Berge and Bonni Cohen’s “The Rape of Europa,” and Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman’s “Nanking.”

The most high-profile film on the shortlist is Michael Moore’s “Sicko,” which earned $24 million at the box office.

Rounding out the list are Sean Fine and Andrea Nix’s “War/Dance,” Tony Kaye’s “Lake of Fire,” Weijun Chen’s “Please Vote for Me,” Daniel G. Karslake’s “For the Bible Tells Me So,” Bill Haney’s “The Price of Sugar,” Peter Raymont’s “A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman” and Tricia Regan’s “Autism: The Musical.”

The documentary branch will review the 15 films and select its final five, to be revealed when the entire list of nominees is announced Jan. 22.

Among the absentees are “In the Shadow of the Moon”; Picturehouse’s “The King of Kong,” about the competition between videogame players; and Barbet Schroeder’s “Terror’s Advocate,” released Stateside by Magnolia.

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