It’s crunch time for movies looking to be singled out for excellence for Awards season. As the PGA, WGA, and other major guilds begin to firm up their nominations, and following both the New York and Los Angeles Critics Circles weighing in, alongside the Gotham awards, marketing campaigns have hit a fever pitch. And after the PGA recently announced their deeply disappointing list of nominees for Best Documentary – only Tower and O.J.: Made in America really stand out – the Oscars category for the very same award is starting to tighten up, as Variety has revealed that we’re down to 15 entries. Here are the titles: O.J.: Made in America, Cameraperson, Weiner, Gleason, 13th, I Am Not Your Negro, Tower, The Witness, Zero Days, The Eagle Huntress, Fire at Sea, Life, Animated, The Ivory Game, Hooligan Sparrow, and Command and Control
This is a very good list. I’ve yet to see Hooligan Sparrow, Command and Control, or The Ivory Game, but the glut of the remaining titles are amongst the most insightful and immensely entertaining movies of this year. 13th, I Am Not Your Negro, Fire at Sea, O.J.: Made in America, and Weiner are amongst the very best films of this year period, and Zero Days, Tower, Cameraperson, and The Witness are awfully strong contenders. Though it’s a staggering work, there was little likelihood that Wang Bing‘s Til Madness Do Us Part would get attention, and Life, Animated and Gleason are openly inspirational, to an occasionally unnerving point, and are therefore major contenders.
Still, this whole game seems to be O.J.: Made in America‘s to lose. There’s good reason for the raves: the sprawling narrative makes exhilarating use of exhaustively researched video clips, sound bites, and photographs, adding complexities upon complexities to the character of O.J. Simpson, one of the greatest football players to ever touch the pigskin. It would be nice to see something so hauntingly timely as Fire at Sea take it, and both 13th and I Am Not Your Negro are new classics in an emerging howl of fearless films about the black American experience in the U.S.A. The next cut to the list of contenders will say a lot about where the decision will land.