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January 12th, 2011 By Jason Gargano | Movies |

DGA Announces Top Docs

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The Directors Guild of American today announced its nominees for “Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentaries” for 2010: Lixin Fan's Last Train Home; Charles Ferguson's Inside Job; Alex Gibney's Client 9: The Rise and Fall of the Eliot Spitzer; Davis Guggenheim's Waiting for Superman; and Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger's Restrepo.

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.


 
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