BREAKING! 15 Documentaries Make The Shortlist…


At first blush, the Academy seems to have nailed down some pretty impressive documentaries in their field of 15 shortlisted selections.  Audience favorites “Buck” and “Bill Cunningham New York” have made the list, the mesmerizing 3-D dance film “Pina”, also Germany’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film, survived the first wave of cuts, while critically acclaimed films “Project Nim”, “Hell And Back Again”, “If A Tree Falls…” and “Paradise Lost 3” all remain in line for a well-deserved Oscar nod.

And yet, as always, it is what is not here which is the real news.  Werner Herzog’s intense and straightforward look at the death penalty, “Into The Abyss” is finished, along with “Hoop Dreams” director Steve James’ “The Interrupters”, the best reviewed film of 2011, with a 99% TomatoMeter rating.

Elsewhere…racing doc and one-time perceived frontrunner “Senna” has run out of gas, Frederick Wiseman’s “Crazy Horse” never left the gate, Morgan Spurlock’s “POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” was likely viewed as too cute and quaint, while Errol Morris’ fascinating, albeit lighter fare, “Tabloid” is also missing in action.

The interesting shortlisted documentaries are listed in the official Academy press release after the cut:

15 Documentary Features Advance in 2011 Oscar® Race

Beverly Hills, CA (November 18, 2011) – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 15 films in the Documentary Feature category will advance in the voting process for the 84th Academy Awards®. One hundred twenty-four pictures had originally qualified in the category.

The 15 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production company:

  • “Battle for Brooklyn” (RUMUR Inc.)
  • “Bill Cunningham New York” (First Thought Films)
  • “Buck” (Cedar Creek Productions)
  • “Hell and Back Again” (Roast Beef Productions Limited)
  • “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” (Marshall Curry Productions, LLC)
  • “Jane’s Journey” (NEOS Film GmbH & Co. KG)
  • “The Loving Story” (Augusta Films)
  • “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” (
  • “Pina” (Neue Road Movies GmbH)
  • “Project Nim” (Red Box Films)
  • “Semper Fi: Always Faithful” (Tied to the Tracks Films, Inc.)
  • “Sing Your Song” (S2BN Belafonte Productions, LLC)
  • “Undefeated” (Spitfire Pictures)
  • “Under Fire: Journalists in Combat” (JUF Pictures, Inc.)
  • “We Were Here” (Weissman Projects, LLC)

The Documentary Branch Screening Committee viewed all the eligible documentaries for the preliminary round of voting. Documentary Branch members will now select the five nominees from among the 15 titles on the shortlist.

The 84th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

What are you choices, what got snubbed, and what looks to be the frontrunner?
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