Academy's Best Documentary: 'The Tillman Story' & 'Waiting for Superman'

Pat Tillman in The Tillman Story
Pat Tillman (left) in Amir Bar-Lev's The Tillman Story

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences haven't officially released their longlist of Best Documentary Feature contenders for the 2011 Oscars, but the 15-film list has already been circulating online thanks to a leak (see “update” below) somewhere inside the Academy. (Deadline was the first site to publish the list; others have followed suit since.) [Update: The Academy says the announcement was released at 12:17 p.m. and that no outlet was given priority. Deadline's current post date says “12:21 p.m.” We at Alt Film Guide received the announcement via e-mail at 12:59 p.m.]

Most documentaries that pundits expected would get a nomination have been included in the longlist, e.g., Davis Guggenheim's Waiting for 'Superman', about the sad state of the American education system; Alex Gibney's Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, a look at the political machinations behind the rise and fall of New York governor Eliot Spitzer; Amir Bar-Lev's The Tillman Story, about the U.S. military's shameless deception following the death of football-player-turned-soldier Pat Tillman; and Charles Ferguson's Inside Job, the pathetic tale of the 2008 global economic crisis. Yet, several well-received docs have been left out.

Most notable among the missing is Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams – is it not getting a 2010 release? [Update: The Academy says Herzog's film was both submitted and eligible.]

The 15 contenders are:

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, Alex Gibney, director (ES Productions LLC)

Enemies of the People, Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath, directors (Old Street Films)

Exit through the Gift Shop, Banksy, director (Paranoid Pictures)

Gasland, Josh Fox, director (Gasland Productions, LLC)

Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould, Michele Hozer and Peter Raymont, directors (White Pine Pictures)

Inside Job, Charles Ferguson, director (Representational Pictures)

The Lottery, Madeleine Sackler, director (Great Curve Films)

Precious Life, Shlomi Eldar, director (Origami Productions)

Quest for Honor, Mary Ann Smothers Bruni, director (Smothers Bruni Productions)

Restrepo, Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, directors (Outpost Films)

This Way of Life, Thomas Burstyn, director (Cloud South Films)

The Tillman Story, Amir Bar-Lev, director (Passion Pictures/Axis Films)

Waiting for 'Superman', Davis Guggenheim, director (Electric Kinney Films)

Waste Land, Lucy Walker, director (Almega Projects)

William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe, Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler, directors (Disturbing the Universe LLC)

The 2011 Academy Award nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 25, 2011, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

The 2011 Academy Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, Feb. 27 '11, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center. In the US, it'll be broadcast live on ABC.

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