For Your Consideration: Documentary Oscar Hopefuls

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December 20  26

This year, 147 nonfiction films officially qualified for the Best Documentary Oscar. After a preliminary round of voting, members of the Academy’s Documentary Branch whittled that list down to just 15. For one week only, Film Society presents all 15 of the shortlisted titles for your consideration. The five nominees will be announced on January 16.

See three or more films in this series or our Foreign Oscar Hopefuls series and save with a Discount Package!

In This Series

20 Feet From Stardom

20 Feet From Stardom

Morgan Neville | 2013 | 91 mins

Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we've had no idea these singers are or what lives they lead, until now.

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The Act of Killing

The Act of Killing

Joshua Oppenheimer | 2013 | 115 mins

What is one to make of men who freely admit their involvement in the mass killing of millions of Indonesians in a bloody anti-Communist campaign in the 1960s? The Act of Killing bypasses the usual documentary tropes of exposing injustice, instead provoking the viewer to consider the murderers’ sense of responsibility for their crimes.

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The Armstrong Lie

The Armstrong Lie

Alex Gibney | 2013 | 124 mins

The Armstrong Lie presents a riveting, insider's view of the unraveling of one of the most extraordinary stories in the history of sports. As Lance Armstrong says himself, “I didn’t live a lot of lies, but I lived one big one.”

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Blackfish

Blackfish

Gabriela Cowperthwaite | 2013 | 83 mins

Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity, exploring the creature’s extraordinary nature and the species’ cruel treatment in captivity.

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The Crash Reel

The Crash Reel

Lucy Walker | 2013 | 109 mins

This eye-popping, yet intimate, story of U.S. champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce uses years of vérité footage to expose the potentially high price of participating in extreme-action sports.

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Cutie and the Boxer

Cutie and the Boxer

Zachary Heinzerling | 2013 | 82 mins

Director Zachary Heinzerling in person for Q&A on December 22!

This candid New York documentary explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of renowned “boxing” painter Ushio Shinohara and his artist wife Noriko.  Spanning four decades, the film is a moving portrait of a couple wrestling with the eternal themes of sacrifice, disappointment and aging, against a background of lives dedicated to art.

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Dirty Wars

Dirty Wars

Rick Rowley | 2013 | 87 mins

Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill traces the rise of the Joint Special Operations Command, the most secret fighting force in U.S. history, exposing operations carried out by men who do not exist on paper and will never appear before Congress.  Dirty Wars is a battle cry for the soul and conscience of an America few of us know exists.

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First Cousin Once Removed

First Cousin Once Removed

Alan Berliner | 2013 | 78 mins

Director Alan Berliner in person for Q&A on December 22 and December 25!

Alan Berliner creates a compelling, heartfelt chronicle of poet and translator Edwin Honig’s loss of memory, language and his past due to the onslaught of Alzheimer’s.

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God Loves Uganda

God Loves Uganda

Roger Ross Williams | 2013 | 83 mins

Director Roger Ross Williams in person for Q&A on December 20!

Using vérité, interviews, and hidden camera footage, the film allows American religious leaders and their young missionaries that make up the “front lines in a battle for billions of souls” to explain their positions in their own words. Shocking and enlightening, touching and horrifying, God Loves Uganda will leave you questioning just how closely this brand of Christianity resembles the one you think you know.

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Life According To Sam

Life According To Sam

Sean Fine | Andrea Nix FIne | 2013 | 90 mins

In 1998, Dr. Leslie Gordon and Dr. Scott Berns learned that their two-year-old son, Sam, had a progressive aging disorder so rare that fewer than 250 children in the world had it at the time. Told there was no cure, they refused to accept that as the final verdict.

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Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

Mike Lerner | Maxim Pozdorovkin | 2013 | 88 mins

Director Max Pozdorovkin and producer Mike Lerner in person for Q&A on December 21!

A group of young, radical-feminist punk rockers known as Pussy Riot took a stand against the direction Vladimir Putin was taking Russia. Putting a personal face on rebellion, filmmakers Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin follow these three women prepared to defend their actions no matter what it may cost them.

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The Square

The Square

Jehane Noujaim | 2013 | 104 mins

Director Jehane Noujaim in person for Q&A on December 22 + 23!

Jehane Noujaim’s tense, vivid verité portrait of events as they unfolded in Tahrir Square through Arab Spring and beyond, in a newly revised, up-to-the-minute version.

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Stories We Tell

Stories We Tell

Sarah Polley | 2013 | 108 mins

What is real? What is true? What do we remember, and how do we remember it? Actor/director Sarah Polley turns from fiction to nonfiction, in the process cracking open family secrets.

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Tim’s Vermeer

Tim’s Vermeer

Teller | 2013 | 80 mins

Tech genius Tim Jenison’s obsessive project was to re-paint “The Music Lesson” according to David Hockney’s controversial theories about Vermeer and the use of optics; the resulting film directed by Teller (as in Penn and) is a bouncy, entertaining, real-life detective story.

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Which Way is the Front Line from Here?

Which Way is the Front Line from Here?

Sebastian Junger | 2013 | 78 mins

Filmmaker Sebastian Junger traces the late photographer Tim Hetherington’s work across the world’s battlefields to reveal how he transcended the boundaries of image-making to become a luminary in his profession.

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