Another year is upon us so let’s look forward to 2011 for the most exciting and intriguing things that’ll be happening in the documentary world. Here are five that are on my radar:
5) The Launch of OWN
The Oprah Winfrey Network means a whole new outlet for doc material but there’s even more here. Oprah made a deal with Ro*Co Films with the intention of creating a community around docs. There’s also the added frisson of a whole channel meant to reflect one woman’s vision of “live your best life”; what sort of documentaries will fall into that category, I wonder.
4) The Greatest Movie Ever Sold; Or, is Morgan Spurlock a one-hit wonder?
After Spurlock turned out the total clunker, Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?, a documentary that wasn’t funny or insightful, can he return to form? Or was Supersize Me all he had? I really don’t know. I wish him well — I think the subject matter of the film, branding and advertising, is right-on, something that’s compelling and that he could potentially handle. But will he be as tone-deaf as on his sophomore effort? I’m looking forward to finding out: the movie will be first seen at Sundance later this month.
3) The 2010 Oscars
February 27 couldn’t come fast enough. It’s a wide open race in the documentary category, which I just love. It’s hard to get into the prediction game before the shortlist has been reduced to five, but I’ll wager we’ll be weighing the mainstream impact of Davis Guggenheim’s Waiting for ‘Superman’ versus the clout of Alex Gibney, who made Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer. Just as strong a factor is that someone finally tried to face the truth of the financial crisis with Inside Job (directed by Charles Ferguson). And then there’s The Tillman Story, Restrepo and Waste Land, which each have strong shots. Of course, as I mentioned previously, nothing would be more compelling than if Exit through the Gift Shop, directed by the street artist Banksy, is in contention.
2) Reagan; Or, I’m ready for a smackdown from director Eugene Jarecki
Jarecki is a really good filmmaker; he’s turned out both the excellent Why We Fight, as well as The Trials of Henry Kissinger. And now he’s turning his eye on Ronald Reagan, a president who I basically grew up hating. It’s been driving me crazy to hear how in recent years he’s been virtually canonized by Republicans as this great visionary. I want to see this revisionist history debunked. Jarecki claims to approach his subject with a sense of fairness, but I can’t imagine this being anything less than a take-down of a president who, at best, was clueless that he would be responsible for so much of what ails this country. This film, too, debuts at Sundance.
1) The Partnering of Michael Moore & Julian Assange
I didn’t see this coming. At first, they may seem like an unlikely pairing but if there are any two individual guys who have wreaked havoc with the establishment and been reviled for it, it’s these two. With Moore coming out as a proponent of Wikileaks and even posting bail for Assange, I foresee a lot more to come between these two (even a doc from Moore, perhaps?) in 2011. I’ve liked a lot of what Moore does, but he never told me anything I didn’t know — until now. He’s the first one to get me to see that Assange might not be a mere arrogant, anarchic rabble-rouser; that, in fact, he may be doing the right thing. Moore’s most compelling point is that if Wikileaks were around in 2003; could Bush have gone to war with Iraq? Would 9/11 have even happened? Valid questions. Let’s see what these two cook up this year.