Oscar History

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Emmy AND Oscar-Nominated Documentaries

The eligibility of documentaries for awardage from both that lusted after winged woman (Emmy) and the coveted naked man (Oscar) is a labyrinthine maze from which we would never exit were we to foolishly enter. In fact, someone needs to make a documentary about THAT to sort it all out. Documentaries leave strange crumbs all over both the big and small screens on their long walking journey through often complicated and extremely protacted "releases".

I bring this up because a portion of the Emmy nominations were announced today (like The Grammys there are hundreds of categories) in the non-fiction fields of news and documentary. I was surprised, for example, to see Semper Fi: Always Faithful, The Loving Story and We Were Here as nominees. You may recall they were all Oscar finalists (though not nominees) back in 2011 and now they're up for 2013 Emmys! Actual nominees from that Oscar year show up too, particularly those from the Best Documentary Short category. I thought we'd highlight a few categories in case you've seen any of these films. They might be familiar to you even if you spend more time in theaters than in front of your television. 



Awesome cinephile Vito Russo with fellow AIDS Activist Elizabeth Taylor

  • The Loving Story -HBO Documentary Films
  • Vito -HBO Documentary Films (read our interview with director Jeffrey Schwartz. Vito Russo wrote the groundbreaking book "The Celluloid Closet" which is all about the problems of LGBT presence in Hollywood films. That book and his AIDS activism are his legacy. This doc was also nominated for "Best Research")
  • Jesse Owens - American Experience PBS
  • We Were Here - Independent Lens PBS [Available on Netflix Instant Watch]
  • Nostalgia for the Light -POV PBS

And there are several other categories of non fiction programming too like "arts and cultural, science, and economic" . Finally, all the fields seem to unite under the umbrella category "Best Documentary" which has six nominations, all of them previous Oscar nominees or finalists except for Nostalgia for the Light, which nevertheless had a movie awards presence winning Best Documentary at the European Film Awards and winning a WGA nomination as well. That said I should note that this is no guarantee that how the docs aired on television is the same way they aired in cinema since documentaries can shape shift as they switch mediums and details of their stories continue to emerge. Some get much longer and are divvied up into segments for news programs. 


  • Project NIM -HBO Documentary Films
  • Saving Face - HBO Documentary Films
  • The Loving Story - HBO Documentary Films
  • The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom - HBO Documentary Films
  • Hell and Back Again - Independent Lens -PBS 
  • Nostalgia for the Light - POV PBS

Do you like docs and if so have you seen any of these films?

P.S. Of Note: 60 Minutes won a nomination for "Outstanding Interview" for their profile of Steven Spielberg during Lincoln's run. If winged Emmy is anything like naked Oscar, it won't win its category. 

P.P.S. The Emmy nominations most people talk about when they talk about Emmys are the ones that will be announced a week from today on July 18th. We'll talk about those soon!


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Reader Comments (10)

I've seen a few of the documentaries and they're good.

Did you know that YESTERDAY, a South African film about a woman with AIDS, was nominated for the Oscar and the Emmy. I'm not sure how often *that* has happened.

I did, however, notice that one cinema in New York is playing GASLAND PART 2 amongst other documentaries that are a part of HBO's summer series.

July 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

I watch more and more documentaries every year. I appreciate being treated as an adult. I've seen Vito -which I loved-, The Loving Story, Hell and Back Again and I got a copy of We Were Here, although I don't have the strength to watch it yet.

The House I Live In by Eugene Jarecki is also very interesting.

July 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Peggy Sue -- i thought The House I Live In deserved to be one of the Oscar nominees last year. Just fsacinating and such a well reasoned argument about the institutional racism of our legal and prison systems and "the war on drugs". It's one of those movies i feel like deserves the "mandatory viewing for informed citizenship" tag.

July 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Project Nim is a truly outstanding film. I haven't seen the rest, but it'll be hard to top that one.

July 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDieter

Exactly! That's why I love documentaries. I believe they allow me to get the whole picture in a world of scattered knowledge.

July 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Nostalgia for the Light is an extremely powerful film. Highly recommended.

July 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNico

The Interrupters is simply fantastic, highly recommended.

July 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike C

Spielberg interview for the win!

July 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaxim

Peggy Sue, I'd warn you that documentarians are just as capable of not showing the whole truth as feature films.

July 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

Glenn -- I'm aware, thanks.

July 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

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