Oscars Predictions 2014: Best Documentary Feature

Posted 10 years ago by myetvmedia

The Oscar category for Feature Documentary is one of the most unique at the Academy Awards because the films are selected from a very diverse pool. This year there were initially 147 entries. The Academy created a special voting process for the Feature Documentary category. There are three stages of voting as opposed to the usual two, with the 147 original contenders undergoing a first cut to produce the shortlist of 15 which is then narrowed down to the 5 Oscar nominees. Each film on the shortlist of 15 is worthy of an Oscar. Notable films that didn’t make it past past the shortlist stage are “Black Fish”, “The Armstrong Lie” and “Stories We Tell”.

Here are the films that did make it:

And the Nominees are…

The Act of KillingJoshua Oppenheimer,Signe Byrge Sørensen

Cutie and the BoxerZachary Heinzerling, Lydia Dean Pilcher

Dirty WarsRichard Rowley, Jeremy Scahill

The SquareJehane Noujaim, Karim Amer

20 Feet From StardomMorgan Neville, Gil Friesen, Caitrin Rogers

The five nominees for this award all explore different sides of documentary filmmaking. “Dirty Wars” explores the dangerous military evolution of the U.S. army through the eyes of investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill. It raises some very worrying topics, from the morality of drone strikes to censorship.

“Cutie and the Boxer” is a more tender film, which explores the imperfect 40 year relationship of married artists Noriko Shinohara and Ushio Shinohara. Director Zachary Heinzerling’s film is a raw exposition of art, love and life.

“The Square” by director Jehane Noujaim is a first hand account of the Egyptian uprising in 2011, as told by the revolutionaries themselves. It paints a different picture of the revolution then what is told by western media and most importantly it highlights the fact that the revolution is still ongoing.

“20 Feet From Stardom” is definitely the lightest film of the bunch, illuminating the contributions of backup singers to some the biggest pop acts of all time. A story of frustration, perseverance and ultimately joy, Morgan Neville’s film is also the most uplifting film of the selection of film nominees.

Even with the stiff competition, I would be shocked if “The Act of Killing” didn’t end up winning the award.  Joshua Oppenheimer’s film was one of the most striking and unique films of the year. It’s an astonishing, one-of-kind documentary that chronicles the 1965-66 mass killings that took place in Indonesia using reenactments created by the very Death Squad leaders who committed the original atrocities. The approach gives the film a captivating absurdity that explores the depth of the human conscience. Legendary filmmaker, Werner Herzog has called it the greatest surreal work in film history.

To me, “The Act of Killing” easily ranked in my top 3 films of the year and I would have loved to see it become the first documentary to earn a nomination for Best Picture. Documentaries are eligible for the award but none have ever received a nomination.

Who will win:The Act of Killing

Who should wIn:The Act of Killing

Who got left out: ”Stories We Tell” – Considered by many a lock to make the final list and a potential winner, the exclusion of Sarah Polley’s genre bending and powerful exploration of her late mother’s life can be considered one of the biggest snubs of this year’s Oscars.  – Marshall Jeske





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