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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

December 8, 2014 at 11:03 AM

The year’s top documentaries — according to Oscar — and where to see them

Last week’s news, but worth a look for all who enjoy documentary films (as I do): The Academy announced its semi-finalists for the Oscar for best documentary last week, and as usual they’re a varied and interesting group. Here’s the list, with notes on where/when to see them:

  • Art and Craft,” about a renowned art forger, had a short theatrical run here a month ago; it’s currently at the Dragonfly Cinema in Port Orchard. Not yet available for home viewing; information here.
    The Case against 8,” a look at the effort to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage, is currently available on HBO GO.
  • Citizen Koch,” which examines political fundraising, had a theatrical run here last summer; copies can be ordered/viewed here.
  • CitizenFour,” Laura Poitras’ film about the Edward Snowden espionage story, is currently playing locally at the SIFF Cinema Uptown and Port Townsend’s Rose Theater. Information here.
  • Finding Vivian Maier,” about a Chicago photographer whose work was discovered after her death, had a theatrical run earlier in the year; currently available for streaming at Amazon, Google, Netflix and other sources. Information here.
  • The Internet’s Own Boy,” about the life and death of tech prodigy Aaron Schwartz, played SIFF and had a theatrical run this summer; now available for streaming here.
  • Jodorowsky’s Dune,” about a dream movie that was never made, was awarded four stars by Seattle Times critic Soren Andersen last spring. It’s available for viewing/purchase here.
  • Keep On Keepin’ On,” a music film about the friendship between a blind piano progidy and a jazz legend, is currently playing at the Egyptian. Information here.
  • The Kill Team,” a story of war crimes in Afghanistan, had a theatrical run this summer. It’s currently streaming at Amazon, Netflix, etc. Information here.
  • Last Days in Vietnam,” about the final days of the Vietnam War, had recent theatrical runs in Seattle and Olympia. It will air on PBS on April 1, 2015. Information here.
  • Life Itself,” about film critic Roger Ebert, had a theatrical run earlier this year and is now available on demand at all the usual locations; information here.
  • The Overnighters,” about migrant workers in North Dakota, is just beginning a theatrical release; currently no Seattle date is scheduled but that could well change. Information here.
  • The Salt of the Earth,” Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado’s film about photographer Sebastião Salgado Decia Films, was acquired by Sony Classics and will have a theatrical release in spring 2015.
  • Tales of the Grim Sleeper,” Nick Broomfield’s crime documentary about an L.A. serial killer, has been acquired by HBO Documentaries and will be aired next year.
  • Virunga,” about a national park in the forests of eastern Congo, is a Netflix exclusive; available here.

The final five will be announced, along with the rest of the Academy Award nominations, on January 15. My prediction, for what it’s worth: “Citizenfour,” “Keep On Keepin’ On,” “Last Days in Vietnam,” “Life Itself,” “The Salt of the Earth.” No, I haven’t seen all of these; it’s just a hunch.

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