'The Story of the Weeping Camel' & 'Born into Brothels' among Best Documentary Feature semifinalists
The Story of the Weeping Camel, Born into Brothels, and Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train are three of the 12 semifinalists in the Best Documentary Feature category, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced.
The 12 features were chosen by the Academy's documentary branch, which will also select the eventual five nominees. The semifinalists are:
- The Story of the Weeping Camel, the tale of a Gobi Desert camel calf abandoned by its mother after birth, the calf's concerned owners, and the power of music on an animals.
- Born into Brothels, about the children of Calcutta prostitutes.
- The biographical documentary Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train.
- Home of the Brave, the story of murdered civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo.
- Academy Award winner Jessica Yu's In the Realms of the Unreal, a portrait of artist and janitor Henry Darger.
- Sundance Film Festival opener Riding Giants, about surfing.
- The Ritchie Boys, the story of German Jews who were trained as an elite U.S. intelligence unit during World War II.
- Super Size Me, an indictment of both the fast-food industry and fast-food eaters.
- Tell Them Who You Are, filmmaker Mark Wexler's look at his relationship with his father, Oscar-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler, whose credits include Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and Days of Heaven.
- Touching the Void, a mixture of interviews and dramatic recreations depicting the fate of mountaineers Joe Simpson and Simon Yates while on a mountain-climbing trip in Peru.
- Tupac: Resurrection, an examination of the life of slain rapper Tupac Shakur.
- Kirby Dick's Twist of Faith, about a man struggling to come to terms with his past sexual abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest.
Iraq War documentaries not in the running
Whether due to eligibility or other issues, conspicuously absent from the list of Best Documentary Feature semifinalists are many of the Iraq War-related and other political documentaries that have surfaced this year, including Jehane Noujaim's Control Room, and Robert Greenwald's Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism and Uncovered: The War on Iraq. (See also: More on Jehane's controversial Control Room and Greenwald's equally controversial Uncovered.)
Fahrenheit 9/11 director-producer Michael Moore, winner of the 2002 Best Documentary Feature Oscar for Bowling for Columbine, opted not to submit his blockbuster documentary in that category. The anti-George W. Bush documentary, however, is eligible in other Academy Award categories, including Best Picture.
Oscar eligibility or lack thereof
Update: According to an Academy spokesperson, Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, the pro-John Kerry Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry, and the anti-Kerry Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal were never submitted for Academy consideration. (More on the John Kerry documentary Going Upriver.)
Control Room and Uncovered: The War on Iraq were disqualified because they have already been shown on television.
Since Michael Moore opted not to submit Fahrenheit 9/11 for Oscar 2005 consideration, that leaves only Nickolas Perry and Harry Thomason's The Hunting of the President, which was indeed eligible but failed to make the final cut. The film features former U.S. President Bill Clinton as the presidential prey and far right-wingers as the ideological hunters.
The 2005 Academy Award nominations will be announced at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills on Tuesday, Jan. 25. The Oscar ceremony will take place on Feb. 27.
'The Incredibles' & 'The Polar Express' among 2005 Oscar Best Animated Feature contenders
In other Oscar 2005 news, The Incredibles, The Polar Express, and Shrek 2 are three of the 11 releases eligible for the 2005 Best Animated Feature Oscar.
As per Academy rules, a maximum of three films can be nominated in a year in which the field of eligible entries has at least eight but fewer than sixteen titles. In other words, the 2005 Academy Awards will have only three Best Animated Feature nominees.
Expect Brad Bird's box-office-hit-in-the-making The Incredibles, which opened on Nov. 5, to be one of them.
Best Animated Feature Oscar hopefuls
The 11 entries in contention for the 2005 Oscar's three Best Animated Feature slots are:
Clifford's Really Big Movie.
Disney's Teacher's Pet.
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.
Home on the Range.
The Legend of Buddha.
The Polar Express.
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.
November & December 2004 release dates in North America
- Jude Law, Marisa Tomei, and Susan Sarandon in Alfie, a remake of Michael Caine's Oscar-nominated 1966 drama about a serial seducer.
- Brad Bird's The Incredibles, featuring the voices of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Jason Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, and Elizabeth Peña.
- The voice of Tom Hanks in Robert Zemeckis' The Polar Express.
- Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in After Sunset.
- Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant in the Bridget Jones's Diary sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
- Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, and veteran Best Actress Oscar winner Julie Christie (Darling, 1965) in Marc Forster's Finding Neverland.
- Liam Neeson as researcher Alfred Kinsey and Laura Linney as his wife in Bill Condon's biopic Kinsey.
- The horror flick Seed of Chucky.
- Pedro Almodóvar's risqué gay film noir Bad Education, starring Gael García Bernal and Fele Martínez.
- Nicolas Cage and Diane Kruger in National Treasure.
- The animated feature The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.
- Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Jared Leto, and Rosario Dawson in Oliver Stone's already controversial Alexander the Great biopic Alexander
- Joe Roth's comedy Christmas with the Kranks, with Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Dan Aykroyd.
- Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, and two-time Best Actress Oscar winner Jodie Foster (The Accused, 1988; The Silence of the Lambs, 1991) in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's World War I drama A Very Long Engagement.
- Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and Clive Owen in Mike Nichols' psychological drama Closer.
- Ziyi Zhang and Andy Lau in Zhang Yimou's epic House of Flying Daggers.
- Kevin Spacey as Bobby Darin and Kate Bosworth as Sandra Dee in the Spacey-directed Darin biopic Beyond the Sea.
- George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andy Garcia, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Don Cheadle, and veteran Elliott Gould (MASH, The Silent Partner) in Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Twelve.
- Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn, Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow, Jude Law as Errol Flynn, and Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner, plus Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda, and Ian Holm in Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator.
- Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep in Brad Silberling's Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.
- Clint Eastwood's boxing drama Million Dollar Baby, starring Eastwood, Hilary Swank, and Morgan Freeman.
- Venice Film Festival Best Actor winner Javier Bardem in Alejandro Amenábar's The Sea Inside, with Lola Dueñas and Belén Rueda.
- James L. Brooks' Spanglish, with Adam Sandler, Téa Leoni, Paz Vega, and Best Supporting Actress Academy Award winner Cloris Leachman (The Last Picture Show, 1971).
- Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, and Miranda Richardson in Joel Schumacher's film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera.
- John Moore's Flight of the Phoenix remake, with Dennis Quaid, Tyrese Gibson, Giovanni Ribisi, Miranda Otto, and Tony Curran.
- Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, Nick Nolte, and Joaquin Phoenix in Terry George's real-life-inspired 2004 Toronto Film Festival winner Hotel Rwanda.
- Jay Roach's lowbrow comedy Meet the Fockers, with Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, Teri Polo, and Blythe Danner.
- Kevin Bacon in the 2004 London Film Festival winner The Woodsman.
- Gurinder Chadha's Hollywoodized Bollywood musical Bride and Prejudice, with Aishwarya Rai, Martin Henderson, and veteran four-time Oscar nominee Marsha Mason (Cinderella Liberty, 1973; The Goodbye Girl, 1977; Chapter Two, 1979; Only When I Laugh, 1981).
- Kenan Thompson in Joel Zwick's Fat Albert.
- Wes Anderson's ensemble piece The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, with Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Cate Blanchett, and veteran Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Seymour Cassel (Faces, 1968).
- Paul Weitz's socially conscious comedy-drama In Good Company, with Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson, and Malcolm McDowell.
- Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, and Don Cheadle in the real-life-inspired The Assassination of Richard Nixon.
- John Travolta, Scarlett Johansson, Gabriel Macht, and Deborah Kara Unger in Shainee Gabel's A Love Song for Bobby Long.
- Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes, and Lynn Collins in Michael Radford's film version of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences website.
Brad Bird's The Incredibles image: Pixar.
Image from Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni's The Story of the Weeping Camel: ThinkFilm.
Tom Hanks The Polar Express image: Warner Bros.