Oscar Contenders

'Sugar Man', 'Gatekeepers' and 'Plague' Make Oscar 2012 Best Documentary Shortlist

'Central Park Five' and 'West of Memphis' miss the cut

I have seen six of the 15 films that have made the Academy's shortlist of 15 films that will compete for Best Documentary at the 2013 Oscars, but I am extremely surprised to see neither The Central Park Five or West of Memphis didn't make it, particularly the former, which was named Best Documentary just this morning by the New York Film Critics.

Personally, of the documentaries I've seen this year, Central Park Five is one of my favorite, though the chronicling of the AIDS/HIV epidemic in How to Survive a Plague and the change of policy instituted as a result of The Invisible War are definitely worthy of note as well.

Two additional docs that will also be among my favorites of the year, that didn't make the shortlist, include the wordless Samsara, which needs to be seen on the largest screen possible to truly be appreciated, and Side by Side, which I think we all knew wasn't going to make the list, but is a film any fan of cinema should be sure to seek out.

Of the 15 films below, the Documentary Branch members will now select the five nominees, which will be announced live on Thursday, January 10, 2013, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Of course, I'll be awake bright and early to have that coverage for you.

  • Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (Never Sorry LLC)
  • Bully (The Bully Project LLC)
  • Chasing Ice (Exposure)
  • Detropia (Loki Films)
  • Ethel (Moxie Firecracker Films)
  • 5 Broken Cameras (Guy DVD Films)
  • The Gatekeepers (Les Films du Poisson, Dror Moreh Productions, Cinephil)
  • The House I Live In (Charlotte Street Films, LLC)
  • How to Survive a Plague (How to Survive a Plague LLC)
  • The Imposter (Imposter Pictures Ltd.)
  • The Invisible War (Chain Camera Pictures)
  • Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (Jigsaw Productions in association with Wider Film Projects and Below the Radar Films)
  • Searching for Sugar Man (Red Box Films)
  • This Is Not a Film (Wide Management)
  • The Waiting Room (Open'hood, Inc.)
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  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

    Where is The Ambassador & The Queen of Versailles?

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Anthony_X/ Anthony_X

    I am just very disappointed. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is one of my favourite films of the year. I am so sad that the passion that Jiro put on his art did not translate into the Oscar Voters.

    The snub of Queen of Versailles was also a bad surprise.

  • Bertram J. Krogh

    This was a great year for documentaries. And the Academy left out several fantastic ones. Tough competition come february, but I am going for Sugar Man.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/TheBioscopist/ TheBioscopist

    I called Sugar Man a few months ago and I'm pretty sure, short of betting the house on it, that it'll win.

  • ed schulz

    Whatever happened to Brooklyn Castle?? An insightful look into IS318 an Intermediate school from Brooklyn that year after year wins most if not all of the national chess championships at the Intermediate grade and now the high school level. Thought this was a winner!!!!!!!!!!!

  • DavidG

    Yes, a lot of great documentaries didn't make the list. I think that is more a testament to the strength of the documentaries this year than it is to any snub. I have seen about half of these, and they all were fantastic. I am excited to see so many great movies honored, though I will admit some of my favorites missed the list. Hopefully this continues to propel the Best Documentary category into the greater public eye as it deserves.

  • Lewis

    the Oscar nominations are being announced early this year? I thought they were coming out Jan. 24 ????

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003407143698 Abhijeet

      I think they cut out a few parts for the other films and would have been better if they iunecdld everything in the books. My favourite is the Half Blood Prince; but it would have been better if they put in essential parts such as Dumbledore's funeral.

  • Filola Dee

    I haven't seen all of these films, but am thrilled that the important historical doc, How to Survive a Plague, is among them. Saw it at Sundance. See this film, created by cobbling together some 700 hours of film, much of which came from hand held camcorders, and be sooo enlightened about the courageous acts of ACT UP and TAG. Makes one see new possibilities of raising up in protest.