Since the early days of the Academy, documentaries have been an important part of the Oscars. The origins of film come from documentaries, the original purpose of film being to inform its audience. Documentaries are tremendously underrated at the Oscars, but having their own category allows them the chance to get some representation. All of the films represented here demonstrate the hard work that goes into making a documentary and how strenuous it can be.
The nominees for Best Documentary – Feature are:
- Abacus: Small Enough to Jail – Steve James is one of the modern faces of documentary film-making and his keen eye for telling interesting stories is at full force here. This film tells the story of the only bank prosecuted after the financial crisis of 2008-09. The way James shines a light on the effect the prosecution has on this family Chinese immigrants is heart-wrenching.
- Faces Places – Combining the talents of filmmaker Agnes Varda and photo-graffiti artist JR, this film features an adventure of epic proportions as these two cross the country to find interesting people. It wouldn’t seem like these two could mesh well together, but their completely different takes on filmmaking make for a truly entertaining piece of art.
- Icarus – There is no better way to describe this film than dumb luck. Bryan Fogel thought he was making a film about the effects of doping on professional cyclists, but he ended up stumbling into a film about the greatest athletic fraud in world history. Fogel’s film addresses the charges against Russian athletes through the eyes of their lead scientist and it is thrilling.
- Last Men in Aleppo – Definitely a risky film, but one whose story needs to be told for the sake of the people who have lived through it. Firad Fayyad tells the story of the city of Aleppo, one of the cities most affected by the Syrian Civil War. There is no doubt that this film is important and its message of peace can be felt and heard by everyone, not just those most greatly affected by it.
- Strong Island – In 1992, Yance Ford’s brother was killed and for the last 25 years she has searched for answers, only now has she the strength to finally tell the story. Ford tells the story in true crime fashion and her heart breaks in every scene as she laments the loss of her brother and tries to accept that answers won’t bring him back. A truly sad film that is well-made but painful.
My Prediction to win is…