15 Documentaries Land on Oscar’s Short List

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences on Tuesday unveiled 15 films that will be competing for Oscar’s five documentary-feature nominations.

The list was winnowed down from the 134 eligible submissions. The Academy’s documentary branch determined the shortlist in a preliminary round of voting.  Branch members will now select the five nominees from among the 15 titles.

The semi-finalists are:

“Art and Craft,” Purple Parrot Films
“The Case Against 8,” Day in Court
“Citizen Koch,” Elsewhere Films
CitizenFour,” Praxis Films
“Finding Vivian Maier,” Ravine Pictures
“The Internet’s Own Boy,” Luminant Media
“Jodorowsky’s Dune,” City Film
“Keep on Keepin’ On,” Absolute Clay Productions
“The Kill Team,” f/8 filmworks
“Last Days in Vietnam,” Moxie Firecracker Films
Life Itself,” Kartemquin Films and Film Rites
“The Overnighters,” Mile End Films West
“The Salt of the Earth,” Decia Films
“Tales of the Grim Sleeper,” Lafayette Film
“Virunga,” Grain Media

The Academy, as always, offered some surprise omissions. Among the films that didn’t make the cut were Robert Kenner’s “Merchants of Doubt,” about pundits-for-hire who are “authorities” on topics like global warming; “Red Army,” about the Soviet Union’s sports domination during the cold war; “Happy Valley” about the Jerry Sandusky scandal; and “Code Black” about healthcare as seen through experiences in an emergency room.

There were also some notable docus on showbiz topics that were left out, including “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me,” “Glen Campbell … I’ll Be Me” and Mike Myers’ “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon.”

Also missing was “America: Imagine the World Without Her,” a political docu from Dinesh D’Souza and John Sullivan. It was the highest-earning docu this year, with $14.4 million at the box office.

However, the docu branch recognized such high-profile works as Laura Poitras’ docu on Edward Snowden “CitizenFour”; “Finding Vivian Maier,” about the mysterious photographer; “Life Itself” about Roger Ebert; and fest faves including Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and Wim Wenders’ “The Salt of the Earth” and Nick Broomfield’s “Tales of the Grim Sleeper,” about the Los Angeles serial killer case.

Nominations will be announced Jan. 15, with Oscar ceremonies held Feb. 22 at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that “Last Days in Vietnam” was not on the shortlist.

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