Is 'Searching for Sugar Man' unbeatable for Documentary Feature Oscar?

By Daniel Montgomery
By Daniel Montgomery
Feb 18 2013 19:53 pm
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Aug 29 2015 21:44 pm
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No film swept this season's early nonfiction awards from critics groups, but in recent weeks one documentary has picked up momentum from a number of industry groups. Is there still room for an upset in the race for Best Documentary Feature, or will it be a runaway victory?

"Searching for Sugar Man"
"Sugar Man" is far out front with 3/2 odds overall. 22 out of 24 experts, eight out of nine editors, and 79% of users predict it will win.

The film, which tells the story of two South Africans searching for their musical hero, Rodriguez, has been awarded by BAFTA, Critics' Choice, DGA, PGA, and WGA. It also won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival for World Documentaries.

This is the first Oscar nomination for director Malik Bendjelloul. Producer Simon Chinn previously won this category for "Man on Wire" (2008).

"How to Survive a Plague"
The film, which chronicles how the organiations ACT UP and TAG responded to the AIDS epidemic, ranks second, getting 7/2 odds from our predictors. One expert, one editor, and 13% of users give it the edge.

The film was a surprise winner as Best First Film at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. It also won Best Documentary from the Gotham Awards and the Boston Society of Film Critics, and was nominated by the DGA. In addition, it's nominated at the Spirit Awards.

This is the first Oscar nomination for director David France and Howard Gertler.

"The Gatekeepers"
Exploring Middle East politics through the point of view of the former leaders of Israel's Shin Bet intelligence agency, "The Gatekeepers" is in third place with 5/1 odds. 2% of users believe it will win, but none of our editors or experts agree.

A favorite of critics, "Gatekeepers" was honored by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film Critics. It was also nominated by the PGA.

This is the first Oscar nomination for director Dror Moreh and producers Estelle Fialon and Philippa Kowarsky.

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"The Invisible War"
The film investigates the epidemic of rape in the US military and ranks fourth according to our predictors, with 6/1 odds. One expert and 5% of users predict it to win.

It won Best Documentary from the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. It was also nominated by the WGA and contends at the Spirit Awards.

This is the first Oscar nomination for producer Amy Ziering and the second for Kirby Dick, who was previously nominated in this category for "Twist of Faith" (2004).

"5 Broken Cameras"
"Cameras" chronicles a Palestinian farmer's nonviolent resistance to the Israeli army. It ranks last with 9/1 odds based on support from 1% of users.

It won the World Documentary directing award at the Sundance Film Festival, but has received no other awards or nominations from American festivals, critics, or industry groups.

This is the first Oscar nomination for Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, who directed and produced the film.

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