There's no denying that
the Guild had a tough job in narrowing the field — it was
another stellar year for the ever-evolving genre — but only
two of the final five would have made my list: Inside
Job (read my interview with Ferguson here) and Client 9, both of which appeared on my top 10 list
of 2010 films.
I liked Last Train Home but had issues with both Waiting for Superman, which was a little too heavy-handed for my taste, and Restrepo, which did a nice job of providing a first-person perspective of what it's like to serve on the front lines in Afghanistan but gave us precious little bigger-picture context.
Where's The Tillman Story, a much more probing and pungent look at our disastrous overseas excursions?
Others that should be mentioned in the same breath as the nominees above: A Film Unfinished, Sweetgrass, The Most Dangerous Man in America, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, Marwencol, Gasland, Boxing Gym and Jean-Michael Basquiat: Radiant Child. No doubt there are more that failed to reach my eyes for one reason or another.
And what about genre-bending head-spinners like Catfish and, best of all, British street artist/prankster Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop, films that might force the Guild to redefine the very definition of what it means to be a “documentary."
When making today's announcement, Guild President Taylor Hackford defined the nominees as documentary films that “provide the audience with the rare opportunity of experiencing a life, a place or a situation that might otherwise be too remote or too unknown to ever discover on our own.”
Nothing could describe Banksy's admittedly subversive “documentary” any better.