×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Oscars: Documentary shortlist unveiled

Fifteen pics up for consideration include 'Paradise Lost 3,' 'Buck'

If documentary kudos are partly dependent on topicality, then “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory,” one of the 15 films that will advance in the Oscars voting process, certainly stands out: The third docu about the West Memphis 3 was just weeks away from its Toronto Film Festival premiere when documakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky got word that the film’s subjects were being released from prison after 18 years. After the Toronto screening, the film was recut to include their release, widely attributed to the filmmakers’ perseverance in covering the story.

Box office clicks “Buck” and “Bill Cunningham New York” are also among the 15 documentaries that will advance. The docu branch screened 124 qualifying films for the preliminary round, a far higher number than in most years, and documentary branch members will now select the five nominees from among the 15 titles on the shortlist.

In addition to “Buck,” the top docu released this year with $4 million, “Bill Cunningham New York,” about the venerable New York Times fashion photographer, had a solid theatrical run with $1.5 million. But other films that proved popular with auds, such as racecar driver bio “Senna” and “Beats Rhymes and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest,” did not make the list.

Another notable omission was “The Interrupters,” from Steve James, the director whose “Hoop Dreams” was snubbed in 1995, sparking a backlash that changed the way the Academy picks docus.

In addition to “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory,” “Bill Cunningham New York” and “Buck,” the finalists are “Battle for Brooklyn,” “Hell and Back Again,” “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front,” “Jane’s Journey,” “The Loving Story,” “Pina,” “Project Nim,” “Semper Fi: Always Faithful,” “Sing Your Song,” “Undefeated,” “Under Fire: Journalists in Combat” and “We Were Here.”

Also omitted were Errol Morris’ “Tabloid,” Werner Herzog’s “Into the Abyss” and Chilean docu “Nostalgia for the Light,” chosen by both the Intl. Documentary Assn. and Cinema Eye Honors.

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Taron Egerton Elton John Rocketman Live

    Elton John and Taron Egerton Duet at 'Rocketman' Awards Season Event at the Greek Theatre

    “Rocketman” has officially launched into awards season. Paramount hosted a screening of the film with a live-performance of the score by the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and a headlining performance by Elton John and the film’s star Taron Egerton. John and Egerton — who is in contention for best actor for his portrayal of the singer [...]

  • Hailee Steinfeld Dickinson Premiere

    Hailee Steinfeld, Jane Krakowski on What Modern Women Can Learn From Emily Dickinson

    Emily Dickinson lived in the 1800s, but if you ask the team behind Apple TV Plus’ upcoming series, “Dickinson,” her story is more current than ever. Hailee Steinfeld stars in the the modern-day retelling of the poet’s young life. The actress — who makes her first full-time foray into television with the role and also [...]

  • Don Cheadle

    ACLU Bill of Rights Gala to Honor Don Cheadle, Feature Appearances by Selena Gomez, Regina Hall

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California will honor “Avengers: Endgame” and “Black Monday” star Don Cheadle at the organization’s annual Bill of Rights dinner on Nov. 17 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Cheadle will be recognized for his activist work as an advocate for racial and gender equality, immigration reform, reproductive and LGBTQ [...]

  • Helen Mirren attends the LA Premiere

    Why Helen Mirren Considers Catherine the Great to Be 'Superhuman'

    It’s no secret that Dame Helen Mirren has a knack for nailing regal roles. Following her Oscar-winning on-screen reign as Queen Elizabeth II back in 2006, the thespian brings yet another powerful ruler to life in HBO’s limited mini-series “Catherine the Great.” Just as she does on the small screen as Russian Empress Catherine II, [...]

  • Taika Waititi Jojo Rabbit Premiere

    Why Director Taika Waititi Decided to Play Adolf Hitler in 'Jojo Rabbit'

    “Fox Searchlight blackmailed me into doing it,” Taika Waititi told Variety of playing Adolf Hilter in “Jojo Rabbit” at the film’s premiere at American Legion Post 43 on Tuesday night in Hollywood. Staying mum when asked which other actors had been on his wish list to play the role, Waititi explained why he eventually decided [...]

  • Jessica Biel Limetown Premiere

    Why 'Limetown' Star & Producer Jessica Biel Thought the Show Was Based on a True Story

    In a world of increasingly outlandish headlines, the story behind “Limetown” — in which an entire community in rural Tennessee disappears overnight — seems plausible. Even Jessica Biel, who executive produces and stars in the Facebook Watch television adaptation of the hit 2015 podcast, was initially convinced that it was real. “I just thought I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content