Depending on the year, sometimes the Academy appear to have their heads up their asses. Some terrific films get snubbed, some obviously strong contenders don’t make the grade, etc. But the Oscar Documentary Feature field just released their 15-strong shortlist, and we’re happy to say it includes many of our favorite documentaries of the year, as well as six of the films we placed on our Best Documentaries of 2014 So Far list that we ran in July: “Jodorowsky’s Dune,” “The Overnighters,” “The Internet’s Own Boy,” the fabulous Congolese National Park doc “Virunga,” the Roger Ebert story “Life Itself” and the art-forgery tale “Art & Craft” (somehow we missed “Kill Team” which we gave an A-grade to).
Released after the fact, and what would certainly make our updated list now is the powerful Edward Snowden doc “Citizenfour,” Nick Broomfield’s “Tales of the Grim Sleeper,” and Wim Wenders’ very-excellent photography/soul-of-a-photographer doc, “The Salt of the Earth.”
The biggest snubs are probably “Rich Hill” (which won the big Sundance Documentary prize), Frederick Wiseman’s “National Gallery” and “Manakanama,” but hey, not everything can make the list, and we’ll be happy with what’s there, considering this is an unusually-strong selection that we can’t really argue with.
“Art and Craft,” Purple Parrot Films
“The Case Against 8,” Day in Court
“Citizen Koch,” Elsewhere Films
“CitizenFour,” Praxis Films
“Finding Vivian Maier,” Ravine Pictures
“The Internet’s Own Boy,” Luminant Media
“Jodorowsky’s Dune,” City Film
“Keep On Keepin’ On,” Absolute Clay Productions
“The Kill Team,” f/8 filmworks
“Last Days in Vietnam,” Moxie Firecracker Films
“Life Itself,” Kartemquin Films and Film Rites
“The Overnighters,” Mile End Films West
“The Salt of the Earth,” Decia Films
“Tales of the Grim Sleeper,” Lafayette Film
“Virunga,” Grain Media
Nominees will be announced live on Thursday, January 15, 2015.