After the 2012 Oscars I wrote about my frustrations with the lack of support given to documentary films in the post Documentary films get little love from Oscars and others. So here we are now three years later and nothing has changed. Once again the documentary features awards were treated like a lessor award. No clips. No images. Not even a sentence or two about what the films were about. As in my previous post, I believe that there were documentary films nominated that were better than the so called feature films that were nominated. In a fair and realistic world Birdman wouldn’t have even made it on the list let alone win Best Picture.
Last year I was able to see all five documentary films before the awards. How is it that in this day of on demand viewing and the countless streaming services available that two of the nominated films for best documentary CitizenFour and The Salt of The Earth were practically impossible to view? First it is a marketing failure on a massive scale for the distributor of these two films. With today’s technology there is no excuse why every picture in every category is not available for streaming. Just think of how much money they are losing by not doing this. I gladly would pay $4.99 for the ability to stream these nominated films.
Then to make matters worse the Academy Awards doesn’t even devote a few minutes for each nominated film. The documentary film category deserves to be treated with the same level of respect as their feature film counterparts. The fact that a movie like The Grand Budapest Hotel could actually be nominated for a Best Picture tells me that the Oscars have lost their legitimacy. Do the people who voted on Birdman even realize that the film was actually a denouncement of the film industry?
A Best Picture should be entertaining; it should be moving; it should tell an important story in a compelling way. The three nominated documentary films I did see — Virunga, Finding Vivian Maier, and Last Days in Vietnam — did this. Whiplash, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Birdman did not.