Originally an HBO special, “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” finds itself in the running for Best Documentary Feature. The third film in a series about the West Memphis 3, the documentary summarizes the entire history of the case leading up to the huge events that occurred in the case this past year. “Paradise Lost 3” is a great documentary, with useful information, bringing to light the errors of our justice system, but in terms of “best of the year”, the film just doesn’t hold up to its competition.

The sad part about this year’s documentary feature category is that a majority of the “big competitor” documentaries weren’t even nominated. For some reason, Werner Herzog was completely snubbed. Also, two major leaders in the “For Your Consideration” pool were completely glossed over (“Buck” and “Project Nim”). Not to mention a Martin Scorsese documentary that was completely left off the radar. So it comes as no surprise that Michael Moore announced on his website that new rules will be brought forth by the Documentary sector of the Academy. Next year, the Academy will implement these new rules to help avoid this sort of backwards category. The category this year should have looked something like this:

  • “Buck”, Cindy Meehl
  • “Project Nim”, James Marsh
  • “Caves Of Forgotten Dreams”, Werner Herzog
  • “Into The Abyss”, Werner Herzog
  • “George Harrison: Living In The Material World”, Martin Scorsese

And the list could go on of snubbed documentaries this year, including “Senna”, “Tabloid”, and “The Interrupters”.

This year, while I predict a film like “Undefeated” will win this category, I am hoping for “Hell And Back Again” to sneak in for a win. “Paradise Lost 3” and the West Memphis 3 have long had a large rally of support, especially from celebrities, so it would be absolutely no surprise to see this film win on that mere support of its Academy members.

No matter what film is garnished with the Best Documentary Feature award, there is no real winner coming from this category, similar to a 500 meter dash where all the best competitors don’t even show up. Though it may be fun to watch the underdogs who normally don’t get a chance in the spotlight, it is still slightly less fun to watch.

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