Friday, January 9, 2009

Documentary shortlist for Oscars

I'm trying to see all 15 documentaries on the Oscars shortlist before participating in the annual Oscars prediction radio show at MovieGeeksUnited on Jan 25.

Final 5 nominees for Oscar were:

Man on Wire (DVD from Netflix) Wonderful. Joyous. Great filmmaking. Clearly a candidate for best doc. Director

Encounters at the End of the World (DVD from Netflix) Werner Herzog. A beautiful meditation on mankind's future on this planet. Profound interviews with interesting people. Gorgeous footage of Antarctica. Great filmmaking.

The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) Glorious cinematography. A story about the nature and consequences of betrayal--personal, institutional, societal and national--as experienced by a Laotian family.

The Garden Hispanic community in South Central LA fights to keep the largest urban garden in the United States from being bulldozed by a developer. Compelling story, compelling characters. Shows the 'levers of power' clearly, and how they are manipulated--for better and worse.

Trouble the Water (Aftermath of KATRINA not able to get screener)

At the Death House Door (Download at Amazon) Extraordinary story of moral crisis and personal transformation. The pastor is one of nonfiction film's great characters.

I.O.U.S.A. (CNN broadcast) CNN chopped the film into dozens of pieces, then sandwiched garish commercials and lengthy panel discussions into the breaks. Awful viewing experience.

Standard Operating Procedure. Errol Morris does a superb job of examining the infamous pictures from Abu Ghirab, and talks to many of the Americans involved. Outstanding filmmaking. Clearly a candidate for best documentary.

Fuel Inspiring must-see film. Sustainable fuels are available, now. This film could change the world. Clearly a candidate for best documentary.

In a Dream. Candid, painfully honest portrait of an artist by his son.

Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh. Superb filmmaking. Clearly a candidate for best documentary.

Watching next:
Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts
Pray the Devil Back to Hell

Not able to get DVD screeners for:
Made in America
They Killed Sister Dorothy
Trouble the Water

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