Tag Archives: Best Documentary Feature Oscar Winners

Inside Job-2010

Inside Job-2010

Director-Charles Ferguson

Starring-Matt Damon

Reviewed December 7, 2010

Grade: A-

Directly derived from the financial crisis of 2008, Inside Job explains what led up to, the factors involved in, and who is responsible for the 2008 crisis. The documentary is very important to see- if nothing else but a lesson in greed and corruption.

It is mainly divided into segments to make it less confusing and the content is easily digestible. The basic concept here is greed, and how people are predisposed to being greedy. Those responsible for the crisis and the subsequent effects on millions of people attempt to defend themselves and what they did to the end- sadly they are still in power, as immoral human beings as they are.

Many times the interviewer will either catch the subject in a lie or leave them tongue tied- one subject even threatens the interviewer. There is a sense of satisfaction that erupts as they squirm and attempt to quickly think of ways to evade the questions.

Inside Job shows how Wall street is incredibly powerful, and how most politicians are puppets, who are influenced greatly by them. It is a sad and discouraging documentary, but incredibly honest and thought provoking. I left the theater feeling angry and depressed, but feeling that the filmmakers do an excellent job of educating the viewer to the woes of the world.

Narrated by Matt Damon, Inside Job is one of the best documentaries I have seen in recent years.

Searching for Sugar Man-2012

Searching for Sugar Man-2012

Director-Malik Bendjelloul

Starring-Sixto Rodriguez

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Reviewed March 18, 2013

Grade: B

Searching for Sugar Man is a heartwarming documentary that tells the true story of a forgotten rising Detroit rock singer (Rodriguez) from the early 1970’s, rediscovered by South African DJ’s where he is a surprising legend in present times.

The documentary’s main talking point is how an icon can be idolized in one country, while living in utter poverty in another. Thought to be the next great thing in the 1970’s, his two released albums bombed and he subsequently faded into oblivion, until tracked down by the South African DJ’s, curious of his current whereabouts.

An inspiring documentary for any musician or fan of music as Rodriguez is a true artist, not in it for the money type or obsessed with attention nor fame, who finally receives some recognition for his talent. He is a free spirit, reminiscent of Bob Dylan, poet, whose story is a courageous one. Thankfully, this inspired documentary has brought some notice to Rodriguez.

Amy-2015

Amy-2015

Director-Asif Kapadia

Starring-Amy Winehouse

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Reviewed February 8, 2016

Grade: B

Amy is an informative documentary that tells the story of immensely talented, yet troubled, pop singer, Amy Winehouse.  Her childhood, rise to fame, and ultimate downfall as a result of drug, alcohol, and weight battles, are all chronicled in her documentary. Despite the information, however, I never got the sense that I knew the singer  well and at the conclusion she still seemed mysterious.

Possessing a unique jazz/soul infused sound and a wonderful British accent to boot, Winehouse burst onto the pop scene like gangbusters in 2003 as a talented artist with many layers of genres in her music. A diamond in the rough you might say, and a breath of fresh air in modern music. The fact that she wrote her own songs only added to the level of talent oozing from her. The documentary wisely tells of her upbringing and her abandoned father, who later resurfaced in her life. Her mother, while decent, could not control Amy, who was full of life and energy.

The main crux of the film, however, is to show her difficulty with fame- a sad, tried and true story of celebrities near and dear, artist types, who do not do well with the attention and adoration thrown their way and Amy Winehouse is no different. As her popularity grew, all she wanted was to be left alone and, unfortunately, her life became very public,including her tumultuous relationship with her boyfriend who wound up in prison.

Sadly, Winehouse did not have the best support system and it was alluded to that, perhaps, her father was an opportunist. A tortured, pure artist that sadly wasted away due to outside circumstances. Throughout most of the film she seemed lost or overwhelmed with the success that came her way. In a cruel irony her biggest hit “Rehab” became fodder for late night television comics to poke fun at her.

The documentary itself, while informative, is also quite basic and I felt like I was given more of an overview of Winehouse’s life than a personal introspective. I did not feel like I received a true sense of her inner thoughts and dreams. Yes, she did not want to be famous and it bothered her, but I wanted to see more of the real Amy Winehouse.

Amy is an adequate documentary about the life and times of Amy Winehouse and I finished the piece knowing more about her, but not nearly as much about her as I wished I had learned. A decent effort, but more would have been nice.

Undefeated-2011

Undefeated-2011

Director-Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin

Starring-Montrail “Money” Brown

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Reviewed June 2, 2013

Grade: B

Undefeated is an emotional documentary, a true story of a high school football coach brought in to a struggling, poor, suburban Memphis area high school and leading the team to a championship title. The story of the coach taking various students under his wing, father figure style, and helping them succeed in, not only football, but scholastics as well is inspiring and heartwarming. The coach’s passion really shines through to the viewer in this story.

As wonderful a story as it is, I felt slightly let down by it is as, yet again, the slant on the story is of an affluent white family swooping in to a poor black neighborhood and saving the black kids with their mighty influence. Why can’t we see a film that is the reverse? In the 21st century this is becoming slightly offensive and one-sided. It is The Blind Side with real people! With that rant made, the documentary is pretty awe-inspiring and the coach portrayed as a fantastic, truly caring human being. I laughed, cried, and rooted for the struggling football team to victory. The portion on what has since happened to the football players is interesting to see.  Undefeated won the Best Documentary Oscar in 2012.

20 Feet from Stardom-2013

20 Feet from Stardom-2013

Director-Morgan Neville

Starring-Bruce Springsteen, Sting

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Reviewed April 15, 2014

Grade: B

Must-see for any lover of popular/rock music as so many songs have background singers that nobody realizes let alone knows their names. It is sad that many of them didn’t do much “past their day”, but Hollywood is littered with thousands of broken dreams. Nice that some of them still perform to this day.

A reality check in the documentary that was brought up many times is that you need to be egotistical and narcissistic to be in the spotlight. Makes you look at many of the big stars a bit differently. Sometimes they are not so nice when the cameras are not rolling and have tremendous egos. No names were revealed-This is an interesting documentary to watch.