Every single year come awards season, it’s always upsetting to see the blatant misfires on the Academy’s short list of films eligible for the Best Documentary Oscar. Just last year, the big story wasn’t so much that Exit Through the Gift Shop or Restrepo were up for the award, it was that films like Catfish, Best Worst Movie and Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work were snubbed.

This year it’s more of the same. Much more. Fifteen films have been chosen that will be narrowed down to five to tangle for the Oscar itself and on that list are several exceptional documentaries: Bill Cunningham New York, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory and Project Nim (above) just to name a few.

Not on the list, however are Constance Mark’s Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, Steve James’s The Interrupters, Werner Herzog‘s Into the Abyss, Errol Morris’ Tabloid, Ian Palmer’s Knuckle, Morgan Spurlock’s The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Andrew Rossi’s Page One: Inside the New York Times, Michael Rapaport’s Beats, Rhymes and Life, Disney’s African Cats, Jon Chu’s Justin Bieber Never Say Never, Cameron Crowe’s Pearl Jam Twenty, Peter Richardson’s How To Die In Oregon, Mark Landsman’s Thunder Soul, Kevin Macdonald’s Life In A Day and, most notably out of all of those, Asif Kapadia’s extraordinary Senna. Just to name a few.

Those films didn’t make the cut. Read what did after the jump. Read More »

This is the kind of heartstring-puller that really gets me. Some people can be broken by movies about illness, or sports victories. But show me a story about someone working with animals, and doing it sensitively, and I might go to pieces. So it looks like I’ll watch Buck on my own, to avoid embarassment.

This documentary won the Documentary Audience Award at Sundance this year, and it isn’t difficult to imagine why. The trailer introduces Buck Brannaman and begins to show how the film traces his path through life, beginning with an abusive childhood, through to the point where he works with people and their horses. Or, as he says, “a lot of times, rather than helping people with horse problems, I’m helping horses with people problems.” See the trailer below. Read More »