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Why No One Can Win "Best Picture" This Year

"I really don't see any of these movies as Best Picture Oscar material. "Roma" is the most artsy.
"Green Book" the most satisfying. "The Favourite" lost me with that WTF ending." -Jaragon

"All I know is there are at least 3 plausible outcomes for BP this year, and that's pretty unusual. I won't be surprised if Roma, Green Book, or Blackkklansman take it. " - Rob

"A foreign language film winning BP is weirdo, but everything is going to be weirdo this year." - Fabio

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Entries in Doc Corner (132)

Thursday
Feb142019

Doc Corner: Ranking the Best Documentary Short Subject Nominees from Least to Most Depressing

by Glenn Dunks

After doing this ranking system two years ago, we took 2017 off because – in a rarity for the Best Documentary Short Subject category – most of the nominees were actually not entirely miserable! This year the branch has gone back to films that make us feel deeply sad about the world in which we live. That’s not a bad thing since, if any category should be able to confront the inequalities, the traumas, the tragedies, the inhumanities of this world, then documentary short films are it.

This year’s nominees cover themes both familiar and yet distressingly contemporary: the refugee crisis, race, the rise of fascism and Nazism in mainstream politics, third world inequalities and death.They’re certainly not the happiest lot of film you’ll ever see. They do, however, make for a solid roster of nominees...

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Tuesday
Feb052019

Doc Corner: How much has the changing Academy changed the Best Documentary category ?

By Glenn Dunks

Among all of the talk happening since the Oscar nominations, a good deal of attention has been paid to the role the new roster of Academy members might have played in what we were given. With good reason, too, considering the nomination list reads rather obviously as the awkward merging of two very different kind of voters. Virtually every category has something for both the old and the new guards – or, at least what we perceive to be the old and the new guards. 

Even a category like Best Sound Editing has a horror movie and a Mexican domestic drama sitting next to musical biopics and action blockbusters. In Best Makeup and Hairstyling you'll see standard old/overweight and royalty makeup side-by-side with a curious Scandi whatsit. And doesn’t it feel odd to imagine the same acting branch voter notching Sam Rockwell’s name for Vice and simultaneously selecting Marina de Tavira one category over?  The documentary branch is no different. Their 2018 nominees for Best Documentary Feature are even more 'new guard,' taking this idea of a shift in identity even further...

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Tuesday
Jan152019

Doc Corner: Final Oscar Predictions – A Big Year For Box Office Hits?

Editor's Note: We're turning over the final nomination predictions in Documentary to our resident doc expert. Take it away, Glenn -- Nathaniel R

By Glenn Dunks

It’s always somewhat impossible to gauge just what direction the documentary branch will go in. In the past, they have often been criticized for ignoring big non-fiction hits while the next year they're equally criticized for just nominating the documentaries that people have heard of and ignoring the smaller titles that haven’t the benefit of famous subjects or popular themes (WWII, for instance).

2019 was an unusually spectacular year at the box office for documentaries with four titles all reaching seven figures at the cash registers of cinemas in the US. It has been great to see documentaries enter the zeitgeist in such a way. Unfortunately that has meant that most awards organizations have defaulted to a standard list of those top four box office champs: Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Free Solo, RBG and Three Identical Strangers. Maybe with Netflix’s Shirkers or Hulu’s Minding the Gap thrown in for good measure. Will Oscar follow suit?

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Wednesday
Jan092019

Doc Corner: From the Short List - 'The Distant Barking of Dogs' and 'Communion'

By Glenn Dunks

The Academy’s documentary shortlist often throws up a few left of field choices – titles that really do earn their primary flutter of American attention simply by being chosen among the 15-wide selection. A 2018 rule change for the category no doubt helped two such films from Europe, austere portraits of youth that are among the shortlist’s most accomplished albeit small scale choices.

The Distant Barking of Dogs was the most unexpected addition this year and was for me the title that I was most happiest to see. It is, after all, the best work of contemporary non-fiction that I saw all year (give or take a Yours in Sisterhood, which will hopefully appear on next year’s eligibility). It is a film that took me completely by surprise when I used it to fill a vacant morning slot at the Sydney Film Festival in May of last year thinking if nothing else I could at least nap. Lo and behold, this remarkable film from the rural warzone of Ukraine has lingered with me longer than probably any other documentary of 2018...

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Thursday
Dec272018

Doc Corner: From the Short List - 'Free Solo'

By Glenn Dunks

Easily queasy viewers beware – Free Solo can be a daunting prospect to watch. And not just for the extraordinary climb that the film is all about, but if even just the poster churns your stomach, it’s probably not for you. Directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin follow up to Meru (of which I was less a fan for reasons I honestly don’t even remember – I watch too many movies to remember these things, apparently) charts Alex Honnold, the world’s most famous free solo rock climber, as he sets out to conquer his biggest feat yet: El Capitan, the 3000-foot vertical rock face, a granite monolith that has loomed over Yosemite for millennia.

The why of Alex’s mission remains a tantalizing carrot that dangles in front of the audience through his death-defying stunts.

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