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Do the Oscars Still Matter - Even for Documentaries?

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • February 23, 2012 1:19 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Once again, as we near closer to another Academy Awards ceremony, people are asking the same old question: do the Oscars still matter? It’s a silly question by itself, because we must consider whether they’ve ever mattered, and if so to what extent. To address the debate in full would take a lot of thought and a tremendous amount of words. Fortunately for my sanity this column is specific to documentaries -- not that focusing on the Academy’s treatment of nonfiction films is anything but one of the most complicated topics associated with the Oscars.

The Doc Option: Instead of "Bullhead" Watch "Bigger Stronger Faster"

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • February 17, 2012 5:05 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Usually I aim this column at a mainstream studio release, but sadly there are no documentaries about antihero motorcyclists with flaming skull heads or tiny people who live under the floorboards or spies involved in love triangles (That I know of anyway. If I've missed them, please let me know, because those sound like great doc topics). Instad this week I have an alternative to the Oscar-nominated foreign film "Bullhead," which opens in limited release today. If you're wondering if you should see this slow and terribly unsatisfying Belgian crime drama, I have a Doc Option for you.

"Undefeated" is a Good But Not Great Underdog Sports Film

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • February 16, 2012 4:57 PM
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  • 7 Comments
It’s very hard not to like “Undefeated,” the underdog sports film that is currently also considered the underdog among the 2012 Oscar nominees in the feature documentary category. I’m not exactly sure why it’s thought to be a long shot, though, since it is a gorgeously shot, expertly edited and very accessible movie with a familiar narrative and appealing characters. Also it’s got distributor backing from Harvey Weinstein (not that he’s ever bagged an Oscar for a doc before, as far as I can recall). Is it the crowd-pleasing quality that has people thinking it’s not serious enough to win? Or, is it truly a dark horse because it deserves to be, since it’s not anywhere near as significant an achievement in nonfiction filmmaking as the other four contenders?

Review and Ranking of the 2012 Oscar-Nominated Live Action Shorts

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • February 9, 2012 4:59 PM
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  • 0 Comments
I wasn’t too thrilled with last year’s Oscar nominees in the live action short category. It was my first time seeing and reviewing all the films, though, and I wasn’t aware that it was such an off year. The 2012 nominees, on the other hand, are all excellent. Whether this is evidence of a typical year for short film or an inverse fluke of this being an especially on year I can not say. But I’m happy to genuinely recommend the annual theatrical release of this category’s contenders, a program that hits cinemas nationwide this Friday.

"If a Tree Falls" Director Marshall Curry on His Second Oscar Nomination, What He Looks for in a Subject and What Keeps Hollywood Interested in Remaking Docs

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • February 8, 2012 1:53 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Since his debut in 2005 with "Street Fight," documentary filmmaker Marshall Curry has remained one of the most acclaimed nonfiction directors working today. That first film, about the 2002 Newark mayoral race, went on to receive many major festival awards before snagging nominations for an Oscar, an Emmy and a Writers Guild award. His next doc, "Racing Dreams," about young NASCAR hopefuls, won the Best Documentary honor when it premiered at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. It also quickly attracted the attention of DreamWorks, which announced plans for a dramatic feature adaptation. 

Review and Ranking of the 2012 Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • February 7, 2012 3:42 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Curious which Oscar-nominated animated short film will win the Academy Award on February 26? Well, I'm no prognosticator and I honestly don't really care which little-known filmmaker takes home the golden statue. But I am happy the Oscars exist and have the animated short category because it means that moviegoers have at least one chance a year to see at least five (supposedly) exceptional animated shorts in the theater. There's usually at least one in the bunch I'm not that in love with, but even 4 out of 5 makes for a great program, especially when the best films are really something special. And maybe you, like the Academy, will enjoy them all.

2012 Oscar Nominee Discussions

  • By Spout
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  • January 24, 2012 12:05 PM
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  • 0 Comments
First, obligatorily, we don't care about the Oscars. Second, we really haven't seen or at least haven't written about enough of the Oscar nominees this year. Part of the reason is that a lot of the films of last year weren't that interesting, discussion-wise. Even films that were being talked about elsewhere, like "The Help" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" didn't seem worthy of review for us. But we're going to try to be better in this next year. We also notice that we could be a little less negative. Even the one discussion post on "Hugo," one of our favorites of the year is about its one notable flaw. Anyway, in response to the 2012 Academy Award nominees, here are those recognized that we've spouted about: Best Picture

Which Animated Short Could Possibly Beat Pixar's "La Luna" for the Oscar?

  • By Daniel Walber
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  • December 2, 2011 12:40 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Yesterday the Academy announced the 10 animated shorts that have made it onto the shortlist for the Oscar, to be given out in February. Only three to five of these films will be nominated, but even getting this far is an incredibly exciting accomplishment. Therefore, instead of just copying out the list and moving on, let’s talk about them a bit.

Oscars for Animals? Rise of the Uggie the Dog and Andy Serkis Campaigns

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • December 1, 2011 9:45 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Continuing both my story on the great animal characters of 2011 and my story from August on Andy Serkis's Academy Award chances/worthiness, yesterday I wrote a Conversation roundup piece about the growing fan-based campaign for Uggie, the dog from "The Artist," and Fox's official push for Serkis for Best Supporting Actor for playing Caesar in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

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