Think of it as a different kind of shortlist.
The Academy weighed in their list of 15 films that will move forward in the Oscar race. Some of those titles have done really well in awards and nominations leading up to the Granddaddy of them all while others haven't made a blip on the radar until now.
On our annual Nonfiction Feature Honor Roll, we usually find that things really begin to coallesce as the year ends. Thus far we've heard from festival juries & audiences, and we've got nominees for each of the year's other big nonfiction awards (Spirits, Cinema Eye, IDA & Gothams).Starting today, with the National Board of Review weighing in on the year's best films, we'll start hearing from critics groups and then the various guilds.
But if we were to take the information we have to date - which 15 films would make the Honor Roll shortlist? [We'll give you a hint - only 6 of the 15 are on the Academy's shortlist.]
2. MARWENCOL - 13 awards/nominations from 9 sources
3. WASTE LAND - 9 awards/nominations from 8 sources
4. EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP - 9 awards/nominations from 4 sources
5. LAST TRAIN HOME - 9 awards/nominations from 3 sources
6. ARMADILLO - 8 awards/nominations from 3 sources
7. RESTREPO - 7 awards/nominations from 5 sources
8. STEAM OF LIFE - 6 awards/nominations from 6 sources
9. INTO ETERNITY - 6 awards/nominations from 5 sources
10. SWEETGRASS - 6 awards/nominations from 4 sources
11. (tie) GASLAND and THUNDER SOUL - each with 5 awards/nominations from 5 sources
13. (tie) ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE and A FILM UNFINISHED - each with 5 awards/nominations from 4 sources
15. INSIDE JOB - 5 awards/nominations from 3 sources
A few caveats - five of the top six films on this list benefit from their multiple nominations at Cinema Eye, particularly LAST TRAIN HOME and ARMADILLO, which garnered a bevy of nods there. Also, INSIDE JOB, a film that is sure to do well with critics as the season continues, didn't play the raft of film festivals that awarded the top three titles - THE OATH, MARWENCOL and WASTE LAND. Ditto shortlisted films like THE TILLMAN STORY and CLIENT 9 or even, for that matter, WAITING FOR 'SUPERMAN', which still manages to come in tied for 16th with THE ARBOR.
Finally, we should point out that the two films tied for 18th are acclaimed international titles that have yet to make an impact in the US - LA BOCCA DEL LUPO and CUCHILLO DE PALO. Both made a strong showing at the growing-in-importance Buenos Aires Independent Film Festival. LA BOCCA DEL LUPO took top prize at DokuFest Kosovo and is up for the Cinema Eye Spotlight Award. CUCHILLO DE PALO just won two prizes at RIDM Montreal. Wonder which American fest will bring these important titles stateside?
Still, it's worth noting that the 6 docs on the Honor Roll top 15 that line up with the Academy are some of the films that would be no surprise ending up as a nominee: WASTE LAND, EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, RESTREPO, GASLAND, ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE and INSIDE JOB.