Once one of the Academy's most frequently frustrating branches, voters for the Best Documentary Feature category have been on an impressive run lately. In the lead up to this year's Oscar ceremony, The Film Experience's Glenn Dunks is joined by Daniel Walber of Nonfics and Film School Rejects for a discussion on this year's nominees (and some that aren't). If you missed their discussion about 1989's Common Threads then make sure you do and join us over the weekend for part two of this look at the doc class of 2014.
Glenn: Welcome back to The Film Experience, Daniel. Before we get into the individual films, I thought I’d ask how you thought 2014 stood up for the documentary form and whether the Academy’s did a good job of encapsulating the year with their nominations. I don’t see anywhere near as many docs as you do so correct me if my reading of the year in non-fiction is off, but I do think this year’s Oscar line-up did a good job of representing the year in documentary: solid, but not truly exceptional. Certainly, some of the best doc’s we saw weren’t even eligible so it was impossible they would show up – like, for instance, both of Team Experience’s best unreleased films, The Look of Silence and Silvered Water: Syria Self Portrait – but it was always going to be tough to beat 2013’s all-time great nomination list.
Daniel: Last year was certainly quite something. I wouldn’t necessarily say that 2013 was a much better year for documentaries in general, but rather that the top films were harder for the Academy to ignore. I don’t think anyone thought of The Act of Killing as a contender at first, but the overwhelming critical acclaim made the difference. Most of my favorites of 2014 were a little further from the Oscar radar. [More...]