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Oscar Experts split on Best Documentary: 19 predict '20 Feet From Stardom,' nine say 'Act of Killing'

By Daniel Montgomery
By Daniel Montgomery
Feb 28 2014 08:02 am
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oscars documentary 20 feet from stardom act of killing square

Nineteen of our 30 Oscar Experts are predicting that the "20 Feet from Stardom," Morgan Neville's music-filled account of the careers of backup singers, will win Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars. That support gives it leading odds of 2/3 to become the second music-themed film in a row to win this race, after last year's "Searching for Sugar Man." Those Experts backing its bids are: 

Thelma Adams (Yahoo!)
Kyle Buchanan (Vulture)
Mike Cidoni (AP)
Edward Douglas (Coming Soon)
Scott Feinberg (THR)
Pete Hammond  (Deadline)
Mark Harris (Grantland)
Dave Karger (Fandango)
Tariq Khan (Fox News)
Steve Pond (The Wrap)
Claudia Puig (USA Today)
Christopher Rosen (Huffington Post)
Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby)
Keith Simanton (IMDB)
Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood)
Peter Travers (Rolling Stone)
Jeff Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere)
Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Times)
Susan Wloszczyna (RogerEbert.com)

But more than a third of experts disagree with the consensus. Of the remaining 11 we polled, nine believe the award will go to Joshua Oppenheimer's "The Act of Killing," about the leaders of Indonesian death squads, which translates into odds of 23/10. Those Experts opting for this powerful picture are: 

Michael Atchity (Rotten Tomatoes)
Thom Geier (EW)
Tim Hayne (Moviefone)
Michael Hogan (Vanity Fair)
Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood)
Mary Milliken (Reuters)
Michael Musto (Gawker, Out.com)
Kevin Polowy (Yahoo!)
Sasha Stone (Awards Daily)

Two others – Guy Lodge (Hit Fix) and Gold Derby's Tom O'Neil – believe Jehane Noujaim's "The Square," which traces the Egyptian revolution from 2011 to 2013, will pull off an upset. It gets 12/1 odds.

Unlike last year, when the precursor prizes went mostly the way of "Searching for Sugar Man," the industry has been divided over this year's race: "The Square" won at the DGA, "20 Feet" at the American Cinema Editors, "Dirty Wars" surprised at the Motion Picture Sound Editors awards, and "Act of Killing" claimed the BAFTA. The WGA went with "Stories We Tell" and the PGA opted for "We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks," neither of which was nominated by the academy.

Review the individual predictions of our Experts here. And be sure to check out the Experts' collective rankings and racetrack odds.

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What do you think is going to win Best Documentary Feature? Vote below using our easy drag-and-drop menu. Come back and change your predictions as often as you like till Oscar night, March 2.

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