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Documentaries, Oscar, and Michael Moore


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided to place restrictions on documentaries up for the award. Any documentary must be reviewed in the New York Times or Los Angeles Times in order to be considered for the award. The Academy is justifying this in several ways, including that it will cull out documentaries that are really meant for television. Two thoughts.

1. This television argument is pretty meaningless in the days of video on demand. Given that most people don’t live in New York or Los Angeles, we are almost always going to see these films on a TV or computer screen. Moreover, given that passion can (though certainly doesn’t always) create a good documentary if combined with skill and that this can be done on a limited budget, it seems this is an unnecessary rule that obscures the real reason–the voters are too lazy to watch a large number of films.

2. The big mover behind the rule–one Michael Moore! He’s mad that obscure documentaries are winning the award instead of his work. His work is more “culturally significant” so it deserves to win. Just ask him. Michael Moore–standing up for the little man!!!!

Moore is such a charlatan. While he is capable of good work (Sicko primarily), most of his films are exercises in narcissism, purporting to be about everyday Americans when instead they stroke his own Texas-sized ego. Were Moore to have more than a rhetorical relationship with a fair and just America, he’d support a broadly defined award category because it would allow the poor and underfunded filmmaker to get her work out. Instead, he wants to make bank. I suppose in a capitalist film industry this is what filmmakers do, but can we please stop taking Michael Moore seriously as a spokesperson for the 99%?

……This comment thread is very special. The argument against me here is not on the merits of Moore trying to restrict small filmmakers from consideration for Best Documentary. It’s that HE IS ON OUR SIDE SO SHUT UP!!! I’m sorry but this site is not Firedoglake and I am not playing the Glenn Greenwald. This is not tribal warfare where we cover up the bad things people on “our” side do. Moore is totally wrong on the merits of this issue. Yet the only person to address this point was outraged that I would dare use “she” as the pronoun to describe the documentarian shut out of the award process. No doubt I would have heard the same comment if I had used “he.”

Meanwhile, I need to get back to yet another viewing of “Lions for Lambs.” It’s a terrible movie that is essentially made up of college freshmen reading position papers to each other, but Robert Redford IS ON OUR SIDE so I need to promote how awesome he is!

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