Now that the Oscars honoring the films of 2019 have aired, I am catching up on some features that screened at the Sundance Film Festival that could attract the attention of 2020 voters. The documentary Crip Camp has a connection with what happened at the Academy Awards on Sunday evening.
In the Best Documentary Feature race, American Factory rode its buzz all the way from Sundance to the Oscar stage. It came from the Netflix owned production company Higher Ground, which includes former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama as its founders. The film achieved front runner status in the fall and that never really let up.
Crip Camp, from filmmakers Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht, has the same credentials. The doc tells the story of Camp Jened, credited with ushering in the disability rights movement in the 1970s. Reviews are strong with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 100%. With its expected Netflix rollout in the near future, Camp certainly has the possibility of following in the footsteps of Factory for an awards run. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
In addition to the multiple films vying for Best Picture attention during festival season, we also have documentaries attempting to make their awards chatter mark. Alex Gibney is a director who’s familiar to Oscar voters.
Citizen K is his latest and it focuses on Russian dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his battles with the Putin regime. Early reviews suggest it’s engrossing and it could be a contender in the doc feature race. Gibney was a winner in the category 12 years ago for TaxitotheDarkSide. Two years later, Enron: TheSmartestGuysintheRoom nabbed a nod. As one of the nation’s premier documentarians, the Academy may feel the time is right to get him back in the mix (especially considering the movie’s timely subject matter). My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Christopher Plummer didn’t land an Oscar nod as a supporting player for 1999’s TheInsider portraying legendary “60 Minutes” correspondent Mike Wallace. In 2014, the same held true for Robert Redford as Wallace in Truth.
So could a documentary focused on the man himself clock the attention of awards voters? MikeWallaceIsHere gets the limited release treatment this weekend as it recounts the work of the tireless and probing newsman. It received its first screening early in the year at the Sundance Film Festival. Reviews have been quite positive with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 95%.
That said, many of the critical write ups have been more in the three star range as opposed to four. And that makes me feel that this doc is probably a long shot at Academy recognition. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
The rock doc DavidCrosby: RememberMyName has hit screens in limited fashion as of last weekend. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival early this year to glowing reviews that have continued upon its theatrical release. Focused on the founding member of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, it is directed by A.J. Eaton and co-produced by Cameron Crowe.
With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 98%, could Remember hear its name called for consideration in the Best Documentary Feature race at Oscar time? That’s not outside the realm of possibility. I’d say it stands a better chance than the arguably higher profile RollingThunderRevue: ABobDylanStoryByMartinScorsese, which was released to Netflix weeks ago.
The eyes of many Oscar prognosticators will be on TheIrishman later this year. The Netflix release comes from Martin Scorsese and the Mafia saga reunites many of his favorite players like Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel. Yet the filmmaker could find himself in contention in another race with another saga featuring a legendary performer.
RollingThunderRevue: ABobDylanStoryByMartinScorsese debuts on the same streaming service tomorrow. The concert documentary follows Dylan’s unique 1975 tour and has caught the attention of critics. It stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
This is far from the first time Scorsese has turned his attention to the rock and roll world in this genre. It began over four decades ago with TheLastWaltz, his feature about The Band. He’s since made pics centered on The Rolling Stones, George Harrison, and Dylan previously (2005’s NoDirectionHome).
Concert docs are a rare inclusion for Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars, but perhaps the Academy could decide it’s time to honor Scorsese’s contributions to the genre. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
After playing the festival circuit last fall and early this year, TheBiggestLittleFarm cultivated a decent limited release debut this weekend. The documentary follows a married couple who move from Los Angeles to agricultural country in SoCal to pursue farming. John Chester, whose short docs on Oprah Winfrey’s network has earned him Emmys, directs.
The film has garnered praise from critics (94% on Rotten Tomatoes) and environmentalists. As mentioned, Farm first screened last fall in Toronto and has played at multiple fests since including Telluride and Sundance. Neon picked up distribution rights and a theater count expansion is planned for Friday.
If this manages to stay on the radar screen for Academy voters, it stands an outside shot at a Documentary Feature nod. That could be a tall order if competition heats up as the year rolls along, which is probable. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Focused on the mission that put a man on the moon a half century ago, the documentary Apollo11 launched in select cities this weekend to solid box office results. The feature is directed by Todd Douglas Miller and it first garnered buzz during its January screenings at the Sundance Film Festival. Critics landed firmly in its camp as it currently stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Apollo took in approximately $1.6 million on 120 screens for a laudable $13,000 per theater average. There are likely to be numerous docs contending for the Academy’s attention. Neon and CNN Films will need to mount a campaign that keeps this in the voters minds for months, but that’s feasible. It’s worth keeping an eye on for a Best Documentary Feature nod.