Oscar nominees: Documentary

Why it’ll win: Though it hasn’t taken home much in the way of awards-season hardware, this movie-within-a-movie about Hurricane Katrina and its awful aftermath has been lighting up critics’ top-10 lists. “Water,” which follows a family that stayed in New Orleans, succeeds equally well as an indictment of the government’s response and a celebration of the human spirit.

Maybe not: The shaky camerawork gives new meaning to DIY filmmaking. A few critics complain that the supplementary footage taken by the directors doesn’t always mesh or enlighten.

Critical quote: “One of the most eloquent records we have of a tragedy that brought out some of the most impressively alive men and women in New Orleans,” says the New Yorker’s David Denby.

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