Can someone explain to me the biggest snub in the recent history of the Oscar documentary branch: that “Grizzly Man” — Werner Herzog’s masterful meditation on nature’s cruelty — did not make AMPAS’s shortlist for the Best Documentary category? Since “Grizzly Man” is the best documentary of the year, the omission is baffling. I can only expect to read that the film was deemed ineligible on the grounds of some strange technicality. Of course, “March of the Penguins” — as a film critic noted to me today — the “feel-good” nature film of the year made the list — and will undoubtedly win.
While I’m quite happy to see “Unknown White Male,” “The Devil and Daniel Johnston,” and “Darwin’s Nightmare” on the list, haunting documentaries that defy the popular boring cuteness of “Penguins” and “Mad Hot Ballroom,” the “Grizzly Man” loss is truly astounding. And why no “Why We Fight,” Eugene Jarecki’s excoriating investigation into America’s war machine? As with last year’s snubs of “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster” and “Control Room,” the AMPAS documentary committee continues to confound.
As an executive told me last year at this time, “Whatever the restrictions, whatever the guidelines, it’s not a fair representation of the caliber of docs. Maybe DIEBOLD should work in conjunction with the Academy to come up with a better approach.”