BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE
The film follows a team of journalists who uncover widespread corruption. After a deadly nightclub fire, the mysterious death of a powerful pharmaceutical firm’s owner and the resignation of a health minister, the reporters expose a much larger, even more explosive political scandal.
Alexander Nanau and Bianca Oana
If a documentary can change the way you feel or think, it has succeeded. “The Cove,” the 2009 Oscar winning documentary about Japanese dolphin slaughtering, caused me such emotion, I wanted everyone to see it. If a documentary feels like it is a once-in-a-lifetime event, a time capsule to a particular period, or an unrepeatable moment in history, it has succeeded. Frontline footage (“Restrepo”) or investigative journalism (“Citizenfour”), chronicles of a famous figure’s life (“RBG”) or a deeper look into lesser-known pockets of society (“Free Solo”), all of these make for films that feel worthy of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
“Collective” touches on many of these criteria and feel like it should to be the front-runner in the Best Documentary Feature category this year.
There’s public health care fraud happening in Bucharest, Romania. Journalists at a the sports newspaper, the “Gazette,” are the first to start unraveling this real-life mystery. The inciting incident is a fire at the Bucharest club, the Colectiv, where 27 people die and another 180 are injured. The lack of fire escapes and negligent inspection of the club draws plenty of attention. Still, as the hospitalized individuals start dying from what do not seem like life-threatening injuries, the real groundbreaking revelations begin.
Fiction writers could not have come up with a better story. There’s a cast of real-life characters that keep this film enjoyable. There’s the editor of the “Gazette,” Cătălin Tolontan, and his staff, who push forward even when things start getting dicey. There’s also the young Vlad Voiculescu, who takes over as Minister of Health after the original Minister resigns. Besides the all-access approach to these characters, the events that transpire feel straight out of a thriller. A pharmaceutical firm owner dying under mysterious circumstances, government conspiracies uncovered by hospital employees, and plenty of frontline footage like maggots covering a patient at one of the Bucharest hospitals. “Collective” even had me yelling at my television. Specifically, when a politician demands the Minister of Health allow a hospital to resume lung transplants, despite that hospital not having the appropriate facilities to do such procedures.
The biggest competition for “Collective” is likely “Time.” Dealing with race and incarceration issues, not only is it timely, but it takes place in the United States and could be more Academy friendly. It is more accessible and less complicated than “Collective,” depicting a woman’s life as she raises her sons by herself while she tries to get her husband out of jail. That said, it does bode well for “Collective” that it also earned a nomination in the Best International Feature category. That means Academy voters liked it enough for it to end up in two different spots. There was plenty of stiff competition in both categories so the fact that it made it through shows there was plenty of love for the film. Oscar pundits on the other hand, have “Time” more consistently on the top of their predictions. Even “My Octopus Teacher” and “Crip Camp” are coming in before “Collective” on Gold Derby’s Predicted Winners. Needless to say, this will be one of those categories that could win or lose your office’s Oscar pool.
|— 1st time Nominees —|
Thirty-six times over 93 years, Romania has submitted features to the Academy for consideration in the Best International Feature category. Only one has ever been nominated for an Oscar. That film is “Collective.” Last year was the first time in the history of the Oscars where a Best Documentary Feature nominee was also nominated for Best International Feature, with “Honeyland.” The film went on to not win either category. “Collective” has a much better chance of pulling off at least one win, which would make it the first film nominated in both Documentary and International Feature to win an award. It has a better chance of winning in the Documentary category, as “Another Round” is the current front-runner by word-of-mouth alone. “Quo Vadis, Aida?” could also be a contender, but that fact that “Collective” does show up in more than one category does give it some more weight than some of the others, if you ask me.
|— 1st time Nominee —|
November 20, 2020
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