Thursday, February 11, 2010

One Category at a Time: Best Documentary

Of all 24 categories being announced on March 7, this one will make me the most nervous. For me, the question as to whether the night will be one to remember or one to be forgotten hinges on the outcome of this category. I've made it no secret that The Cove is my favourite film of the year by no slim margin, and to see director Louie Psihoyos dominating the precursors thus far should be enough to reassure me that he has the Oscar safely in hand... but I can't shake the feeling that his extraordinary film might be primed for a disappointing surprise loss.

It's biggest competition, Robert Kenner's Food, Inc., nominated by the IDA, ACE, and DGA. While I respected this organized if somewhat sprawling examination of the industrial food system and its many problems, it pales in comparison to The Cove's riveting narrative. A case could also be made for PGA nominee Burma VJ, which describes the troubled state of affairs in Burma through footage smuggled out of the oppressive military-ruled country. The Vietnam-themed documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America could strike a chord with older Academy members who actually remember the brew-ha-ha surrounding Daniel Ellsberg and his leaking of classified Pentagon documents to the NY Times in 1971. Or perhaps they'll be inspired by the true stories of unaccompanied Central American minors migrating to the U.S. in Which Way Home.

Having not seen the two latter nominees, it's hard to judge their chances, but I could see any of the five making an impact with voters. The smart money is still on The Cove, but I won't be able to relax until I actually hear it called.

Will/should/MUST win: The Cove

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