New York Film Critics and National Board of Review latest to add their plaudits
Ezra Edelman's colossal documentary endeavor -- a 464-minute long film on O.J. Simpson -- is meeting with major awards recognition.
This week brought a cascade of honors for Edelman, the latest coming from theNew York Film Critics Circle. The group drew a circle around O.J.: Made in America as its choice for best documentary of the year.
Earlier in the week, the National Board of Review likewise picked O.J. as best documentary. NBR, an organization made up of filmmakers, academics, film fans and others, gave honorable mention to an additional five nonfiction films:
>De Palma, directed by Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow
>The Eagle Huntress, directed by Otto Bell
>Gleason, directed by Clay Tweel
>Life, Animated, directed by Roger Ross Williams
>Miss Sharon Jones! directed by Barbara Kopple
NBR will present its awards at a gala in New York on January 4.
In addition to the awards from the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review, O.J.: Made in America earned top documentary honors at the IFP Gotham Awards and at the inaugural Critics' Choice Documentary Awards.
And Edelman's film is one of six up for best feature documentary at the International Documentary Awards, which will be presented December 9 in Hollywood.
Edelman has drawn praise for the extraordinary depth of his project, which places Simpson in the context of the country's dysfunctional relationship with race. It traces the star athlete's rise from his youth in a tough neighborhood in San Francisco, to his Heisman Trophy-winning career at USC, his NFL heroics and his Hollywood career, showing how Simpson eschewed a black identity and distanced himself from the kind of civil and human rights advocacy of fellow NFL great Jim Brown and Muhammad Ali, among others. He would inhabit a largely white world of money and influence, a position that would prove increasingly tenuous after his arrest in 1994 on double murder charges.
Simpson's trial would expose how differently blacks and white viewed law enforcement and the legal system, dispelling any notion that he could transcend race. O.J.: Made in America explores that terrain in incisive detail.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.