’13th’ reviews: Ava DuVernay could make Oscar history with acclaimed Netflix documentary

Ava DuVernay‘s “13th” was the first documentary selected to be the opening-night film in the 54-year history of the the New York Film Festival. It premiered at the fest on September 30 and, now, one week makes its debut on Netflix. “13th” ranks as one of the best-reviewed films of the year, scoring 91 on MetaCritic and 97% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes. Could it make Oscar history and be the first documentary nominated for Best Picture?

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DuVernay earned as much critical acclaim in 2014 for her docudrama “Selma” about Martin Luther King‘s voting-rights marches in the title city. That film earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, and won Best Song for “Glory.” Common, who co-wrote that tune with John Legend, penned a new track, “A Letter to the Free,” for “13th.”

After reading excerpts from some of the many rave reviews for “13th” below, be sure to make your Oscar predictions. How do you think “13th” will do with academy voters? Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how this film is faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before nominations are announced on January 24 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

Manohla Dargis (New York Times): “Powerful, infuriating and at times overwhelming, Ava DuVernay’s documentary ’13th’ will get your blood boiling and tear ducts leaking. It shakes you up, but it also challenges your ideas about the intersection of race, justice and mass incarceration in the United States, subject matter that could not sound less cinematic.”

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Rodrigo Perez (The Playlist): “Intelligently told, and reflective of DuVernay herself — assured, articulate, bold — “13th” sets up its thesis from the jump and then builds a strong case for American incarceration as the modern substitute of slavery … Sprawling in size and scope, DuVernay’s doc essentially takes on the entire history of post-abolition racial inequality in the U.S. — not an easy task.”

Owen Gleiberman (Variety): “You can see movies that conjure (as maybe only movies can) the ghosts and artifacts and living semiotics of history, and that hold you in their grip with a force and excitement that match that of any dramatic feature. “13th” is a movie that does all those things at once.”

[WATCH] Ava DuVernay (‘13th’) on including Donald Trump in documentary: ‘It’s too important, and it can’t be forgotten’

Alan Scherstuhl (Village Voice): “You might have let yourself act surprised as the waters have risen and the floods have come. But you can’t anymore, not after 13th, Ava DuVernay’s miraculous cine-history of the criminalization of American blackness. Few films shake and astonish like this one, even though nothing in it should be a surprise.”

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