The final Best Feature Documentary short list is out and yes, it’s true — Sydney Pollack‘s Sketches of Frank Gehry, Christopher Quinn‘s God Grew Tired of Us, and Christopher Creadon‘s Wordplay have been given the shaft.
Every year pedestrian docs are put on the list and some really exceptional ones are blown off. We can only assume this is because those who choose the finalists aren’t all that hip or perceptive. If not, what are we to assume…the opposite? People have been snickering about these guys for a long time. They earned lifelong notoriety for blowing off Grizzly Man last year.
I can say for sure that there are three respectable so-so’s (and in my opinion films of a much lesser calibure) among the finalists: (a) Blindsight, Lucy Walker’s perfectly fine but obvious doc about six blind Tibetan students tryign to ascend Mt. Everest; (b) Stanley Nelson‘s Jonestown: The Life and Death of People’s Temple, which, in my view, pulls too many punches (“What happened in Jonestown was NC-17, but Nelson’s doc is strictly PG-13…there’s no anger or fire in it…no ghastly details, none of the horror, not enough particulars about Jones’ sleazy seducer tendencies”); and (c) Barbara Kopple‘s Shut Up & Sing, the Dixie Chicks vs. conservative Bush-lovers doc, which is only pretty good.
The other short-listers are Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?, Deliver Us from Evil, The Ground Truth, An Inconvenient Truth, Iraq in Fragments, Jesus Camp, My Country, My Country, Sisters in Law, Storm of Emotions, The Trials of Darryl Hunt (the Bend Film Festival double-winner!), An Unreasonable Man and The War Tapes.