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Wim Wenders’ ‘Pina,’ ‘Buck,’ ‘Paradise Lost 3,’ ‘Project Nim’ & More Make Oscar Documentary Shortlist

Wim Wenders' 'Pina,' 'Buck,' 'Paradise Lost 3,' 'Project Nim' & More Make Oscar Documentary Shortlist

…and then there were 15. Just like that, the field for the films battling for the five slots at the Oscars for Best Documentary just got a lot smaller. The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences announced the shortlist for the award and once again, there is no love for Werner Herzog.

Last year, he was snubbed for “The Cave Of Forgotten Dreams” (which turned out to be one of the biggest arthouse hits of this year) and once again in 2011, there is no love for “Into The Abyss.” So, sorry Kodak Theater, you will not be graced with the awesome presence of Herzog. Another film getting the shaft is “Hoop Dreams” director Steve James‘ “The Interrupters” one of the best films — documentary or not — this year. The astounding chronicle of the battle against inner city violence in Chicago left this writer in tears more than once, and it’s exactly the kind of small scale film that needs the awards season boost and recognition. Alas, it won’t get it but please find it at a theater you. Sad to say, this isn’t the first time James has been an outsider with the Academy, as even getting “Hoop Dreams” nominated was a Herculean task, aided by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert‘s campaign for the movie. No such luck this time.

But let’s get to the rest shall we? Wim Wenders has the curious distinction of being both a Best Foreign Film and Best Documentary Film contender with “Pina.” However, we figure his movie about dance choreography won’t make the cut in the former category and stands a better shot here. We’re glad to see the charming “Bill Cunningham New York” in the mix, a great look at an enduring New York City and fashion world icon. “Buck,” the celebrated tale of the famed horse whisperer is along in the mix and likely a strong one to beat, and same goes for “Project Nim,” the compelling portrait put togther by James Marsh. On the issues-movie front, both “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” and “If A Tree Falls: A Story Of The Earth Liberation Front” will provide compelling controversy for voters. While “Undefeated” crosses off the rousing sports doc category.

Hear are the full fifteen going for gold. Final nominees will be announced on Tuesday, January 24, 2012.

“Battle for Brooklyn” (RUMER 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)

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Standout documentaries for me this year were: Better This World, Marathon Boy, The Arbor, Give Up Tomorrow. Amazed that none of these were considered to be top 15. Instead the documentary branch seem to have chosen many unchallenging standard biography archive/talkin head type films. The "Jane Goodall" and "Harry Belafonte" docs would be hard to call brave or Oscar worthy.


at least WE WERE HERE made the cut. Its profoundly moving and uplifting…I mean subject matter still has to count.


Yes, the list is very odd considering the stunning docs out there this year. Think if Steve James does wants to bag an Oscar he should cut his film running times. Needs and exec as 145 mins is way too long.


and Banksy got fucked last year.


"No such luck this time"? Uh, there was no such luck last time for James, either. "Hoop Dreams" wasn't nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars. There was quite a fuss over the snub at the time. (It was nominated for Editing, but not Best Doc.)



Also totally shocked about The Interrupters.

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