Oscar nominees: Documentary

Why it’ll win: Renowned cinematographer Ellen Kuras spent 23 years following a Laotian family’s life in Brooklyn after the Vietnam War. It’s a labor of love that’s gripping, lyrical and beautifully scored by Oscar winner Howard Shore. The 2008 Sundance Grand Jury Prize nominee is also up for a Film Independent Spirit Award this year.

Maybe not: Critics have found Kuras’ collagelike film unfocused. Even its admirers admit that its detached style can try one’s patience.

Critical quote: “(It is) quiet, contemplative and impressionistic, which makes the story it has to tell all the more powerful,” says A.O. Scott of the New York Times.

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