The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced 15 documentary features in contention for Oscar, from a huge category of 147 films that had originally qualified. The list includes “20 Feet From Stardom,” the year’s highest grossing docu; “The Armstrong Lie,” “The Act of Killing” and “Blackfish” (pictured from left); as well as “Stories We Tell” by Sarah Polley, which won the N.Y Critics Circle Award today.
The semi-semi-finalists are, in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:
“The Act of Killing,” Final Cut for Real
“The Armstrong Lie,” The Kennedy/Marshall Company
“Blackfish,” Our Turn Productions
“The Crash Reel,” KP Rides Again
“Cutie and the Boxer,” Ex Lion Tamer and Cine Mosaic
“Dirty Wars,” Civic Bakery
“First Cousin Once Removed,” Experiments in Time, Light & Motion
“God Loves Uganda,” Full Credit Productions
“Life According to Sam,” Fine Films
“Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer,” Roast Beef Productions
“The Square,” Noujaim Films and Maktube Productions
“Stories We Tell,” National Film Board of Canada
“Tim’s Vermeer,” High Delft Pictures
“20 Feet from Stardom,” Gil Friesen Productions and Tremolo Productions
“Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington,” Tripoli Street
It’s a good list, with a wide range of topics, from “Tim’s Vermeer” (a study of art, technology and creativity) to “God Loves Uganda” (American Evangelicals in Africa).
The Academy’s list includes four of the five films competing at this Friday’s Intl. Documentary Assn. ceremony: “The Act of Killing,” “Blackfish,” “The Square” and “Stories We Tell.” The fifth IDA contender is “Let the Fire Burn,” an acclaimed film that failed to make the cut with Oscar. Also omitted are Indie Spirit Award nominees “After Tiller” and “Gideon’s Army,” plus Producers Guild nominations “A Place at the Table,” “Far Out isn’t Enough” and “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks.”
Other surprising omission include “Letters to Jackie” (Bill Couturie, letters of sympathy after JFK’s shooting); “The Unknown Known” (Donald Rumsfeld, exposed); “Inequality for All” about the economy; “Casting By,” about Hollywood casting directors; and “Muscle Shoals.”
The Acad’s documentary branch determined the shortlist in a preliminary round of voting. Documentary Branch members will now select the five nominees. Nominations will be announced Jan. 16, in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Oscars will be presented March 2.