If anyone thought that the first week of year-end film awards was going to help settle on a frontrunner for the Documentary Feature Oscar, they were mistaken.
In fact, the scattershot results only confirmed that this year's race is the most wide-open contest in years.
First, the Gothams settled on shockingly-out-of-the-race THE OATH for their documentary prize winner. Next, as they announced their nods, the Spirits bypassed heavyweights like INSIDE JOB and WAITING FOR 'SUPERMAN', settling instead on shortlisted titles like EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP and RESTREPO.
Then Thursday, the National Board of Review, which has a shockingly good record as an Oscar predictor in the past decade, handed its top docu prize to Davis Guggenheim's 'SUPERMAN' and annointed A FILM UNFINISHED, INSIDE JOB, JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK, RESTREPO and THE TILLMAN STORY as runners-up.
The next day, the Producers Guild named six nominees for their Documentary Award: CLIENT 9, EARTH MADE OF GLASS, INSIDE JOB, SMASH HIS CAMERA, THE TILLMAN STORY and 'SUPERMAN'. Only Deborah Scranton's EARTH and Leon Gast's SMASH weren't on the Academy Shortlist.
Later that night, Lucy Walker's WASTE LAND recieved the most votes from the IDA membership and won that organization's top prize, besting EXIT.
But the next day, both WASTE LAND and EXIT lost out at the British Independent Film Awards - with the victory going to shortlisted doc ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE.
Then, over the weekend, the DC Film Critics became the first critics group to weigh in, naming their nominees on Saturday and their winners on Sunday. The five nominees were all shortlisters: EXIT, INSIDE JOB, RESTREPO, TILLMAN and 'SUPERMAN' - and the winner was Banksy's EXIT.
Finally, at Sunday's European Film Awards, the Documentary prize went to Patricio Guzman's NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT (the other two nominees were ARMADILLO and STEAM OF LIFE).
And as critics are now weighing in with their lists of top films (in addition to their awards), we should note that Sight and Sound's list of films of 2010 includes several documentaries, including THE ARBOR (#5), THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF NICOLAE CEAUSESCU and NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIST (tied at #8) and EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP (tied at #20).
New York Magazine's David Edelstein also weighed in, listing 4 docs in a top 11 for the year: CLIENT 9 and INSIDE JOB tied at #2, EXIT at #8 and MARWENCOL at #9.
The coming week is a bit quieter, but next weekend we get the Boston, Los Angeles and New York critics to weigh in one after the other.
So if you're tallying at home, here's how the week went for the Shortlisted films: