×
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.

More Scene

  • Dan Stevens

    'Legion' Star Dan Stevens Says His Character Would Fight Thanos, 'Wreak Havoc' in MCU

    Dan Stevens said his powerful, telepathic mutant Legion would do some serious damage if he ever crossed over from the eponymous FX series into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Legion would wreak havoc. He’d probably take on Thanos, let’s see that,” he told Variety on the red carpet at the premiere of the trippy, mind-bending superhero series [...]

  • Anthony Anderson LADF

    Why Anthony Anderson and Billie Jean King are Giving Back with the Dodgers Foundation

    Celebrities and athletes came together at the Dodgers Foundation Blue Diamond Gala to celebrate the team’s commitment to supporting youth and to catch a glimpse of the event’s headliner: Bruno Mars. Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss were honored at the fifth annual event, which raised over $3 million for programs benefiting Los Angeles youth. [...]

  • Shia LaBeouf poses at the premiere

    Shia LaBeouf to Host Birthday Fundraiser for Slauson Rec. Theater Company

    Shia LaBeouf is celebrating his 33rd birthday by giving back. The actor, who turned 33 on June 11, will host a fundraising concert later this month for the Slauson Rec Theater Company, a 10-month-old free performing arts program he co-founded in downtown Los Angeles. The night will also include a preview of the Slauson Rec [...]

  • Awkwafina, Lulu Wang Celebrate New York

    Awkwafina Wants 'The Farewell' to Break Boundaries of Cultural Differences

    Family dysfunction is universal despite cultural differences. That’s what writer and director Lulu Wang wants audiences to take away from her film “The Farewell” starring Awkwafina. “This movie will teach us universality out of specificity. There’s something that we can all kind of relate to across cultures. There’s something we still have to learn about [...]

  • Elizabeth Debicki

    Elizabeth Debicki Talks About Being Supported by Other Women in Hollywood

    Elizabeth Debicki is looking to the future — which makes sense, since she was named Women in Film and Max Mara’s “Face of the Future” for 2019. “No pressure,” Debicki laughed when Variety asked the actress about the honor on the red carpet. “It means a great deal. I have always deeply respected the work [...]

  • Carla Gugino Jett

    How Carla Gugino Is Redefining the Anti-Hero in Cinemax's Crime Drama 'Jett'

    “This is like no character I’ve ever played,” Carla Gugino told Variety on the red carpet at the premiere of Cinemax’s “Jett” on Tuesday night. “I think television is filled with great roles for women, which is such a godsend these days. But the anti-hero — there’s still a double standard there.” In the new series, Gugino [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content