As usual, five movies were nominated for Best Documentary: Free Solo, Hale County This Morning, This Evening, Minding the Gap, Of Fathers and Sons and RBG. I haven’t seen any of them before.
How to watch: This is the only one you’ll have to pay to see; you can buy it on Amazon, Vudu, iTunes or wherever you stream your movies.
My thoughts: I am really not good with heights which means that the end of this movie gave me an actual panic attack. (I would’ve had to leave if I saw it in the theater; as it was, I had to keep pausing for a few minutes.) This is a fascinating story and an intense one. I think it will win the Oscar and I am fine with that.
Hale County This Morning, This Evening:
How to watch: It’s available on PBS; I added the channel to my Roku and watched. You don’t need to have any sort of cable subscription.
My thoughts: This isn’t like any other documentary I’ve seen. It’s more of a slice of life and series of vignettes, though we do follow the same people. It’s about a black community in Hale County (Alabama) and it is interesting and also hard to watch. Also (and this is a spoiler but I wish I had been warned) a baby dies of SIDS and we have no reason to suspect it’s coming whatsoever. I don’t think this one will win, and that makes me sad. I don’t know that I think that it’s the best of the five, but it’s definitely the one that took the most risks.
Minding the Gap:
How to watch: It’s on Hulu.
My thoughts: If you had told me this morning that I would love a documentary about guys who skateboard, I would have laughed in your face. Of course there’s a lot more going on than that (generational trauma, domestic violence, racism, poverty) and it’s impossible not to care about these guys (and Nina and Elliott, the girlfriend and son of Zack, one of the featured men). This caught me off guard and, while I don’t think it’ll win the Oscar, I think it definitely should.
Of Fathers and Sons:
How to watch: You can stream for free on Kanopy; you only need a library card to access.
My thoughts: I knew going in that a documentary about a man who is raising his children to want sharia law was going to be hard to watch. That’s a complete understatement, as it turns out. This is very well done and is as disconcerting as it should be, but this was too much for me. I’m very glad I saw it, though.
How to watch: It’s on Hulu.
My thoughts: I fully expected to love this movie, and I did. She’s one of only a handful of people who has actually changed history and I don’t think any of us can overstate her importance. At the same time, this documentary shows a more personal side to her and everything about it is amazing.
Ranking them in terms of quality:
1) Free Solo
2) Minding the Gap
4) Of Fathers and Sons
5) Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Ranking them in terms of my preference:
1) Minding the Gap
3) Free Solo
4) Hale County This Morning, This Evening
5) Of Fathers and Sons