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Entries in RBG (12)

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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Wednesday
Jan302019

Watch at Home: Boy Erased, The Wife, RBG, and First Man

What's newly available for home viewing on DVD or Blu-Ray? Herewith a quick survey of new releases from the past two weeks.

DVD/Blu-Ray
Boy Erased - It didn't end up with any Oscar nods but it's worth seeing, especially if you or someone you love ever had to put up with the evils of conversion therapy or religious repression of natural sexuality.
First Man - It shares with Mary Poppins Returns the distinction of being the most-nom'ed movie this season that's not up for Best Picture. But that still feels stingy for a movie this well crafted, technically speaking. How on earth and outerspace did it miss in Best Original Score? The mind boggles. 
The Wife - Glenn Close's 7th Oscar bid is, contrary to internet belief, a movie that exists and that people saw. The very fact that some corners of the internet bitch about it is blatant ageism...

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Wednesday
Jan232019

Soundtracking: 2018's Original Song nominees

by Chris Feil

Best Original Song always gets its fair share of side-eye among Oscar snobs and agnostics alike. Granted, some recent nominees have made a decent enough case for their argument - Alone Yet Not Alone, you are lost but not forgotten (or... alone in terms of being a bad nomination). But does this year's crop of tracks continue the category's uptrending in quality? I would argue it does and then some.

While our most expected nominee ("Shallow" obviously) provides the lineup a genuine hit song, we also have idiosyncratic picks as well as musicals and major artists nominated. This leaves the telecast with no rational choice but to allow all numbers to perform on the show, as they have been hesitant to do with lesser known nominees. So in addition to ranking the nominees, I have some suggestions on how to present all of them...

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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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Thursday
Jan102019

Double Feature: On the Basis of Sex & RBG

by Abe Fried-Tanzer

It’s not uncommon for documentaries and narrative features about the same subject to be released around the same time. In some cases, the impetus for a narrative film comes from the success of a documentary, as with recent Robert Zemeckis' movies the The Walk and Welcome to Marwen, which told the same stories as the hit docs Man on Wire  and Marwencol, respectively. 2010 saw concurrent releases of documentary Casino Jack and the United States of Money and the feature Casino Jack.

This season's double feature is undeniably inspired by the need to champion strong women in the face of divisive times. Who better than civil rights icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female justice appointed to the Supreme Court, to serve as the figurehead for two very different movies in 2018?

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Monday
Dec242018

Top 30 Documentary Hits of 2018

Each day a different year in review topic. Here's Glenn Dunks...

Documentaries had one of their biggest years on record in 2018. In fact, the upper realms of non-fiction at the North American box office started to look like what the foreign-language charts once looked like. There was at least one major cross-over smash, several very impressive eight-figure grossers, a selection of not insignificant titles that did over one-million, and a long list of niche titles that did business anywhere from respectable to disappointing depending on expectations and release size. The year even started strong for docs with 2017 hits Bombshell the Hedy Lamarr Story and Faces/Places continuing to earn tidy sums buoyed by word of mouth and an Oscar nomination respectively.

My column Doc Corner will continue in 2019 so here’s hoping the new year offers just as bountiful a crop. It's been good to see documentaries reaching the mainstream, zeitgeist conversation.

TOP 30 DOCUMENTARIES FOR 2018
Domestic Box Office Grosses Only - Figures as of February 17th, 2019. 🔺 = the film is still in theaters

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