Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees
Never has a documentary, in my opinion, given such an in depth look at one particular figure than that of “Amy.” Following Amy Winehouse from her teenage years to her breakout as a jazz/pop artist to her eventual downfall, there is so much footage and so many personal interviews with those that knew her best and even recorded phone conversations that give a firsthand account of what was happening, that you by the end of the documentary you really feel like you knew her. On top of that, there is so much of this footage that you start to be able to pinpoint the moments in her life when things started to spiral. Her friends and family remember the moments and speak as if watching an inevitable car crash. No one is surprised by what happens. Shocked, maybe. Mournful, obviously. But completely surprised, no.
Amy had humble beginnings, just singing jazz in clubs and recording an album that she was proud of. She never thought she would be famous and didn’t even know what that life was. She was down-to-earth and never let the idea of fame get to her. She was headstrong, knew what she wanted, and went for it. She had close girl friends, she had a few lovers, and she grew from an awkward teenager to a lovely woman. Every commended her writing and singing abilities and were inspired by how original she was. She would eventually bring home several Grammy’s, recorded with her idol Tony Bennett, and became a worldwide phenomenon when her single “Rehab” hit. We remember her for her voice, her over-the-top hair and make-up, and of course, her drug use, which was prevalent for most of her late life. After getting married, she and her husband fell down the rabbit hole of drugs. And even though Amy pulled herself out several times, it seemed that the world around her, her father and manager included, were not willing to let her get the help she needed to stay clean, which eventually led to her downfall and untimely death.
What’s its competition? As I often say in regards to this category, to me, the Best Documentary Feature is one that feels “once in a lifetime.” As in, there will never be another film like this and the fact that it was delved into as deeply as it was is nothing short of a miracle. “Amy” has that aura, because it gives an unprecedented look at the life of an iconic figure, not only showing us an all access pass, behind the scenes to their life, but also spelling out what led to their demise. “Amy” shows the awful truth of celebrity status and reminds you that these people in the limelight are just that… people. They may have extraordinary talents, but they live and struggle just like everyone else.
Having swept most of the critics awards and continuing to win the awards leading up to the Oscars, including the Critics Choice Awards and the Producers Guild Awards, “Amy” is the clear cut front-runner. Anything that does beat it out will be a major upset. “The Look Of Silence” is definitely the closest competitor, but even then, it simply does not have the momentum that “Amy” has had from day one. “Amy” was easily my favorite documentary of the year and I look forward to its win, as it absolutely deserves to.
Previous nominations? These are the first Academy Award nominations for Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees.
“Amy” (2015) Trailer:
// Produced by Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees //Directed by Asif Kapadia //
// Dated Viewed: Thursday, January 21st, 2016 // DVD // 33 films – 39 days //