Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Proof (if it were needed) that The Oscars are ludicrous…

A case could be made that the most ludicrous of all the ludicrous Oscar categories is the best foreign language race. Indeed, I have outlined that argument in this place on several occasions. But, in recent years, the documentary competition …

Wed, Nov 23, 2011, 11:31

   

A case could be made that the most ludicrous of all the ludicrous Oscar categories is the best foreign language race. Indeed, I have outlined that argument in this place on several occasions. But, in recent years, the documentary competition has been almost as preposterous. Think, for example, of the awarding of that prize to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. I have no problem with Mr Gore’s arguments. But the film is, well, barely a film at all. It’s a bland, illustrated lecture. Too often the voters recognise the cause and not the film. You sense you are being dared to disagree. “Aha! You didn’t like A Inconvenient Truth? So, you think we should keep pumping detergent into lakes and feeding plutonium to babies?” That sort of thing.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. The long list for next year’s race has just emerged and there are some absurd omissions. The most conspicuous non-appearence is that by Senna. Pardon? A terrific film, infused with passion and excitement, Asif Kapadia’s picture would have been seen as the favourite by many sensible punters. Also missing is Werner Herzog’s Into the Abyss, a striking study of the death penalty, and Steve James’s The Interrupters, an examination of gang violence in Chicago. Well, at least James March’s Project Nim made it in.

You may ask why I bother getting annoyed. Well, plenty of people who know better still think these awards are a measure of something more significant than the relevant studio’s talent for promotion. What’s the point? Here’s the complete list:

Battle for Brooklyn

Bill Cunningham New York

Buck

Hell and Back Again

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

Jane’s Journey”

The Loving Story

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

Pina

Project Nim

Semper Fi: Always Faithful

Sing Your Song

Undefeated

Under Fire: Journalists in Combat)

We Were Here