Academy reveal Best Documentary Oscar shortlist

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have whittled down their longlist of 101 eligible documentaries to a mere 15. It is from these 15 titles that the five nominees for Best Documentary at the 83rd Academy Awards shall be chosen.

Here are the films, listed in alphabetical order:

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (dir. Alex Gibney)
Enemies of the People (dir. Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath)
Exit Through the Gift Shop (dir. Banksy)
GasLand (dir. Josh Fox)
Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould (dir. Michele Hozer and Peter Raymont)
Inside Job (dir. Charles Ferguson)
The Lottery (dir. Madeleine Sackler)
Precious Life (dir. Shlomi Eldar)
Quest for Honor (dir. Mary Ann Smothers Bruni)
Restrepo (dir. Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger)
This Way of Life (dir. Thomas Burstyn)
The Tillman Story (dir. Amir Bar-Lev)
Waiting for ‘Superman’ (dir. Davis Guggenheim)
Waste Land (dir. Lucy Walker)
William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe (dir. Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler)

So the obvious snubs here are Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work and Catfish. That being said, this looks like a rather fine list of contenders for the big prize in 2011.

So, who are the leading candidates at this point?

Restrepo – a doco about embedded journalists in Afghanistan – nabbed the Best Documentary prize at Sundance back in January. However, directors Hetherington and Junger will be competing with former winners. Client 9 director Alex Gibney won the Oscar back in 2007 for his excellent Taxi to the Dark Side. Davis Guggenheim similarly picked up the prize in 2006 for An Inconvenient Truth, and his Waiting for ‘Superman’ – an expose on the American educational system – has inspired some fairly passionate discussion (and currently sits as the 20th highest grossing documentary of all time).

Not to be discounted: Charles Fergurson’s Inside Job (which offers an insight into the global financial crisis), Josh Fox’s GasLand (which reveals the hidden truths behind the natural gas industry) and Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop (which is a hilarious docu-satire of the street art scene).

We won’t know the final list of nominees until early 2011, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out each and every one of these films in the meantime. We sure will.

Discuss: Any of your favourite documentaries from 2010 miss the cut?

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