Oscar nominations: 'Faces Places' to face off with 'Strong Island,' 'Acabus,' 'Last Men in Aleppo,' 'Icarus;' but 'Jane' left out
Agnès Varda becomes oldest director ever nominated for Oscar; Steve James claims elusive first directing Oscar nomination
The Oscar nomination announcements this morning produced some impressive 'firsts' in the documentary categories, along with at least one major surprise.
In the Best Feature documentary category Agnès Varda and the artist JR earned nominations for Faces Places, their touching film about encounters with real people in rural France. At age 89, Varda became the oldest nominated director in Academy history. In fact, the Belgian-born director became the oldest person to receive an Oscar nomination in any category [she was born in May 1928, a week before James Ivory, who was nominated for an Oscar this morning for writing Call Me By Your Name].
Steve James earned the first documentary Oscar nomination of his career for Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, the story of the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges stemming from the 2008 financial collapse. The director famously was snubbed by the Academy in the past for his acclaimed films Hoops Dreams , The Interrupters , and Life Itself , although he did receive an editing nomination for Hoop Dreams.
Also securing Oscar nominations were Icarus, directed by Bryan Fogel; Last Men in Aleppo directed by Feras Fayyad and Strong Island directed by Yance Ford.
The biggest surprise in the documentary category came with the omission of Brett Morgen's Jane, one of the favorites going into the morning. Over the weekend Morgen won the Producers Guild Award for his documentary about pioneering scientist and conservationist Jane Goodall.
Also snubbed was Matthew Heineman's City of Ghosts, which like Last Men in Aleppo takes on the carnage of the Syrian Civil War.
In the Documentary Short category Frank Stiefel's touching Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405 earned an Oscar nomination. It will go up against Edith+Eddie, directed by Laura Checkoway, Heroin(e), directed by Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon, Knife Skills, directed by Thomas Lennon and Traffic Stop, directed by Kate Davis and David Heilbroner
The Academy Awards will be presented Sunday, March 4 in Hollywood. Here is the list of documentary nominees:
DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE) NOMINEES:
ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL
Steve James, Mark Mitten and Julie Goldman
Agnès Varda, JR and Rosalie Varda
Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogan
LAST MEN IN ALEPPO
Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed and Søren Steen Jespersen
Yance Ford and Joslyn Barnes
DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT) NOMINEES:
Laura Checkoway and Thomas Lee Wright
HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405
Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon
Kate Davis and David Heilbroner
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.