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2013 Awards Season: Oscar Contest: Category Highlight: Best Feature-Length Documentary

February 6th, 2013

With our annual Oscar Prediction contest underway, now is the best time to look at the nominees and try and figure out who the favorites are and which films should just feel honored to be nominated. Today we look at Best Feature-Length Documentary, which is probably not as competitive as I thought it would be. There are two films that earned perfect reviews, so it should be a close race between those two for the Oscar, right?

Best Feature-Length Documentary of the Year

5 Broken Cameras
Tomatometer Score: 94% Positive
Previous Major Nominations: None
Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: This film has 94% positive reviews, which actually makes it the second worst reviewed film on this list. Also, this is the film's first major Awards Season nomination. Given its reviews, it is hard to argue that it didn't deserve the nomination (although there were a couple other documentaries that I thought would get one that didn't). That said, it is the longest of the long shots on this list.

The Gatekeepers
Tomatometer Score: 93% Positive
Previous Major Nominations: PGA
Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: This film has 93% positive reviews, making it the weakest film on this list. It did earn a PGA nomination, but it lost out to a fellow Oscar nominee. It did just opened in theaters after a short Oscar-qualifying run, so it is the freshest in the minds of voters, but I don't think that will be a major help.

How to Survive a Plague
Tomatometer Score: 100% Positive
Previous Major Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards and DGAs
Previous Major Wins: None (One pending)
Notes: One of two films on this list that has earned 100% positive reviews. On the other hand, it only has two previous nomination, and it lost out on the DGA to a fellow nominee. It also barely made a noise at the box office, and as I've said numerous times, you can't vote for a film you haven't seen. Given its reviews, it shouldn't be a long shot, but everything else indicates it is.

The Invisible War
Tomatometer Score: 100% Positive
Previous Major Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards, WGAs, and DGA
Previous Major Wins: None (Two pending)
Notes: The other film with 100% positive reviews. This one has earned more nominations, but has yet to win. Plus it has the weakest box office numbers, which shouldn't matter, but does. It's the film I think should win, but it is not the favorite if you look at the data.

Searching for Sugar Man
Tomatometer Score: 96% Positive
Previous Major Nominations: WGAs, PGA, and DGA
Previous Major Wins: DGA and PGA (Two Pending)
Notes: Its the only Oscar nominee to previously win a major award. It is also the only film on this list to have a big run at the box office. In fact, it has made more than the other four films combined. It will win the Oscar, or it will be a major shock.

Conclusion: I want The Invisible War to win, but all the evidence suggests Searching for Sugar Man is the heavy favorite for the Oscar.


Filed under: Awards Season, 5 Broken Cameras, Searching for Sugar Man, The Invisible War, How to Survive a Plague, The Gatekeepers