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Peter T Chattaway

Oscars 2019: Best Documentary Feature

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The 166 contenders:

  • Above and Beyond: NASA’S Journey to Tomorrow
  • Active Measures
  • Amazing Grace
  • American Chaos
  • Andy Irons: Kissed by God
  • Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco
  • Avicii: True Stories
  • Bali: Beats of Paradise
  • Bathtubs over Broadway
  • Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché
  • Believer
  • Better Angels
  • Bill Coors: The Will to Live
  • Bisbee ’17
  • The Bleeding Edge
  • Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat
  • Breaking Point: The War for Democracy in Ukraine
  • Call Her Ganda
  • Charm City
  • Chef Flynn
  • The China Hustle
  • Christian Audigier The Vif
  • The Cleaners
  • Communion
  • Crime + Punishment
  • Dark Money
  • Daughters of the Sexual Revolution: The Untold Story of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders
  • The Dawn Wall
  • The Distant Barking of Dogs
  • Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes
  • Drug$
  • Eating Animals
  • Eldorado
  • Fahrenheit 11/9
  • Fail State
  • Family in Transition
  • Far from the Tree
  • Filmworker
  • The First Patient
  • Foreign Land
  • 40 Years in the Making: The Magic Music Movie
  • Free Solo
  • Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable
  • Generation Wealth
  • Ghost Hunting
  • Ghosthunter
  • The Gilligan Manifesto
  • The Gospel According to André
  • Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami
  • Graves without a Name
  • The Great Buster: A Celebration
  • Hal
  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening
  • Half the Picture
  • The Heart of Nuba
  • Hillbilly
  • The Homeless Chorus Speaks
  • Hondros
  • Howard
  • In Search of Greatness
  • In the Land of Pomegranates
  • Inventing Tomorrow
  • Invisible Hands
  • Itzhak
  • Jane Fonda in Five Acts
  • John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection
  • The Judge
  • Kangaroo: A Love Hate Story
  • Killer Bees
  • The King
  • King in the Wilderness
  • Kusama – Infinity
  • The Last Race
  • Leaning into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy
  • Letter from Masanjia
  • Licu, a Romanian Story
  • Living in the Future’s Past
  • Liyana
  • Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle
  • Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story
  • Love, Cecil
  • Love, Gilda
  • Love Is Tolerance – Tolerance Is Love – Make Tolerance Great Again!
  • Making The Five Heartbeats
  • Maria by Callas
  • Matangi / Maya / M.I.A.
  • McQueen
  • Minding the Gap
  • Monrovia, Indiana
  • The Most Unknown
  • New Moon
  • 93Queen
  • Nossa Chape
  • Of Fathers and Sons
  • Of Love & Law
  • On Her Shoulders
  • Opera about Poland
  • The Opera House
  • The Oslo Diaries
  • The Other Side of Everything
  • The Panama Papers
  • Path of Blood
  • People’s Republic of Desire
  • Philosopher King – Lee Teng-hui’s Dialogue
  • Pick of the Litter
  • Piripkura
  • Police Killing
  • Pope Francis – A Man of His Word
  • The Price of Everything
  • The Price of Free
  • Qiu (Inmates)
  • Quincy
  • RBG
  • The Rachel Divide
  • The Raft
  • Recovery Boys
  • Restoring Tomorrow
  • Reversing Roe
  • The Road Movie
  • Robin Williams: Come inside My Mind
  • Ruben Blades Is Not My Name
  • Samouni Road
  • Saving Brinton
  • Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland
  • Science Fair
  • Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
  • Searching for Ingmar Bergman
  • Seeing Allred
  • The Sentence
  • Shirkers
  • Shot in the Dark
  • The Silence of Others
  • Sisters of the Wilderness
  • A Son of Man
  • Songwriter
  • Stan
  • Studio 54
  • Summer in the Forest
  • Tea with the Dames
  • That Summer
  • That Way Madness Lies…
  • They Fight
  • They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead
  • This Is Congo
  • This Is Home: A Refugee Story
  • Three Identical Strangers
  • To Be Continued
  • Transformer
  • Travel Ban
  • The Trial
  • Triumph: The Untold Story of Perry Wallace
  • Trust Machine
  • Under the Wire
  • United Skates
  • Unknown Distance
  • Up Down and Sideways
  • The Waldheim Waltz
  • We Could Be Heroes
  • Weed the People
  • What Haunts Us
  • What Lies Upstream
  • Whitney
  • Wonderful Losers: A Different World
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  • Yellow Is Forbidden
  • Yellowing

A 15-movie shortlist will be revealed on December 17. The final 5 nominees will be announced January 22.

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I've seen several of these - not anywhere close to a majority, but more than in recent years - and just wanted to take a second to plug The Road Movie, which Prime members can stream for free at Amazon Prime. It's a blast! Not necessarily award-caliber, or my choice for the year's best documentary, but it appealed to the younger man in me who used to love clips of David Letterman throwing watermelons and such off a 10-story tower. Same kind of effect here, although, to use a road-trip analogy, your mileage may vary.

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The Producers Guild Award nominees (with the ones I've seen, or have a screener for, in bold):

  • The Dawn Wall
  • Free Solo
  • Hal
  • Into the Okavango
  • RBG
  • Three Identical Strangers
  • Won't You Be My Neighbor?

The list includes all three of the documentaries that grossed over $10 million this year (i.e. RBG, Three Identical Strangers and Won't You Be My Neighbor?), and Free Solo might be the fourth such film soon, which would make this the first year ever that *four* documentaries grossed over $10 million; and what's even more remarkable is that -- unlike the two previous years when three documentaries grossed over $10 million -- not one of this year's $10-million-club members is a nature documentary, a music/concert movie, or a Moore/D'Souza political screed. (And we had *all* of those this year!)

The winner will be announced January 19.

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Sundry comments:

- I've seen all but "The Dawn Wall" and "Into the Okavango."  The latter sounds like it would qualify as a nature documentary, and sounds rather interesting, to boot. 

- How curious that there are two Yosemite climbing docs on the final list.

- I'm surprised that "Three Identical Strangers" made a short list.  The subject matter was interesting, but its handling and film style was amateurish and repetitive.

- On that list, my favorite is easily the Mr. Rogers doc, but my favorite doc of the year, "Our New President," is not included, alas.

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The shortlist (with the ones I've seen in bold):

  • “Charm City”
  • “Communion”
  • “Crime + Punishment”
  • “Dark Money”
  • “The Distant Barking of Dogs”
  • “Free Solo”
  • “Hale County This Morning, This Evening”
  • “Minding the Gap”
  • “Of Fathers and Sons”
  • “On Her Shoulders”
  • “RBG”
  • “Shirkers”
  • “The Silence of Others”
  • “Three Identical Strangers”
  • “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

There are only four films here that also made the Producers Guild's cut -- and, no surprise, they are the four films that grossed over $10 million this year.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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The Directors Guild nominees in this category:

  • MORGAN NEVILLE, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  • RAMELL ROSS, Hale County This Morning, This Evening
  • ELIZABETH CHAI VASARHELYI & JIMMY CHIN, Free Solo
  • TIM WARDLE, Three Identical Strangers
  • BETSY WEST & JULIE COHEN, RBG

So, basically, the four films that grossed over $10 million, plus Hale County This Morning, This Evening.

The winner will be announced February 2.

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This may be kind of irrelevant, given that *none* of the Writers Guild nominees in this category even made the Oscar shortlist (though they were all on the original long-list of eligible films), but just for the record, here's what the Writers Guild nominated:

  • Bathtubs Over Broadway, Written by Ozzy Inguanzo & Dava Whisenant; Focus Features
  • Fahrenheit 11/9, Written by Michael Moore; Briarcliff Entertainment
  • Generation Wealth, Written by Lauren Greenfield; Amazon Studios
  • In Search of Greatness, Written by Gabe Polsky; Art of Sport

The winner will be announced February 17.

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The ACE Eddies nominees in this category:  

  • Free Solo, Bob Eisenhardt, ACE
  • RBG, Carla Gutierrez
  • Three Identical Strangers, Michael Harte
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Jeff Malmberg & Aaron Wickenden, ACE

So basically, the four films that grossed over $10 million each this past year.

The winner will be announced February 1. 

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