The Look of Silence joins films on Marlon Brando, Amy Winehouse, Nina Simone, Malala Yousafzai and more
The Motion Picture Academy today pruned its list of Best Documentary Oscar contenders from 124 to 15, rewarding some of the best-known nonfiction filmmakers, but ending the hopes of many other aspirants.
The top 15 list recognizes the work of several previous Oscar-winners including Michael Moore for Where to Invade Next; Alex Gibney for Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief; Morgan Neville for Best of Enemies [co-directed by Robert Gordon], and Davis Guggenheim for He Named Me Malala.
Making the cut were some of the best-reviewed and most honored documentaries of the year, including Amy -- Asif Kapadia's film about the late Amy Winehouse that won the National Board of Review award for Best Doc; The Look of Silence, directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, winner of the Gotham Independent Spirit Award; Heart of a Dog directed by multi-media artist Laurie Anderson, nominated for the Gotham Award, and Listen to Me Marlon, Stevan Riley's film about Marlon Brando, which competes for an IDA Award this weekend.
From the Academy's press release:
The 15 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:
“Amy,” On the Corner Films and Universal Music
“Best of Enemies,” Sandbar
“Cartel Land,” Our Time Projects and The Documentary Group
“Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” Jigsaw Productions
“He Named Me Malala,” Parkes-MacDonald and Little Room
“Heart of a Dog,” Canal Street Communications
“The Hunting Ground,” Chain Camera Pictures
“Listen to Me Marlon,” Passion Pictures
“The Look of Silence,” Final Cut for Real
“Meru,” Little Monster Films
“3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets,” The Filmmaker Fund, Motto Pictures, Lakehouse Films, ActualFilms, JustFilms, MacArthur Foundation and Bertha BRITDOC
“We Come as Friends,” Adelante Films
“What Happened, Miss Simone?,” RadicalMedia and Moxie Firecracker
“Where to Invade Next,” Dog Eat Dog Productions
“Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom,” Pray for Ukraine Productions
Among the surprising omissions -- The Russian Woodpecker didn't make the cut. The documentary by Chad Gracia has been nominated for multiple awards, including the IDA. Stanley Nelson's documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution didn't make the top 15 either, despite being nominated for several other major documentary awards.
Another surprise was the omission of Janis: Little Girl Blue, which has earned strong reviews for director -- and previous Oscar nominee -- Amy Berg.
A couple of my favorite documentaries of the year didn't not make the Academy's top 15 -- The Wolfpack from first-time director Crystal Moselle and Dior and I, the documentary from French filmmaker Frédéric Tcheng.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.