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Can anything beat 'Toni Erdmann' or 'O.J.: Made in America' in their categories?

Glenn Whipp, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Is "O.J.: Made in America" a movie? A TV show? Does it matter? And can any foreign language film attract enough eyeballs to overtake the brilliant "Toni Erdmann"? I'll answer these questions -- and raise a few more -- in this look at the Oscar categories of documentary feature and foreign language film.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

"O.J.: Made in America"

"13th"

"I Am Not Your Negro"

"Cameraperson"

"The Ivory Game"

Prime contenders: "Life, Animated," "The Eagle Huntress," "Zero Days," "Weiner," "Fire at Sea," "Gleason," "Hooligan Sparrow," "Tower," "The Witness," "Command and Control"

Analysis: There is not one unworthy title among the 15 movies shortlisted for documentary feature. If you're a Netflix subscriber, you can, right now, watch Ava DuVernay's "13th," a crucial, infuriating look at the history of American racial injustice and incarceration. Netflix is also streaming "The Ivory Game," following the men and women trying to stop ivory trafficking. It will get your blood boiling too, though its ambitious scope makes it a bit less powerful than similar advocacy docs like the Oscar-winning "Blackfish" and "The Cove."

And you could have watched Ezra Edelman's towering, tragic opus, "O.J.: Made in America," on ABC in June. The ESPN Films production, tracking the story of Simpson's glory and infamy along with a history of the combustible relationship between the LAPD and Los Angeles' black community, premiered at Sundance and played for a week theatrically before its broadcast debut. Edelman has always maintained that he saw the work as a film, not a five-part TV series. But most people watched "O.J." on television, which has many maintaining that it's better suited for the Emmys than the Oscars.

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