Friday, January 31, 2014


I am WAY behind on reviewing movies I have been watching for awards season, so I will try to catch up by reviewing some of them this weekend.

20 FEET FROM STARDOM is one of the five nominees for the Oscar for best doc. It was also nominated for the Spirit Award.

Also nominated for the Oscar are The Act of Killing, Cutie and the Boxer, Dirty Wars, and The Square. (Click for my reviews on the one I have seen.) Also nominated for the Spirit Award are The Act of Killing, After Tiller, Gideon's Army, and The Square.

It's a crowded field. A couple of other great docs were overlooked but nominated for the IDA Documentary award, Blackfish and Stories We Tell. Some of these films are now on Netflix and other rental services. If you like docs, this a great set this year.

Full disclosure, I know three people who worked on 20 FEET. One is Supervising Editor Doug Blush, who went to film school with me, and the other two are former students, Kevin Klauber and Josh Wilkinson.

I liked this film a lot. It's about backup singers, the unheralded heroes of contemporary pop music. Their voices often outshine the lead singers that they are behind, but they do not get the glory. And in some cases they even cover lead singing for others who cannot do it themselves but they don't get credit at all. As a musician, the film is a fantastic look at some of these individuals.

It is extremely well edited and sounds great, and the song choices are really appropriate. Perhaps my only concern was that archival footage did not seem to be identified as such. (What year was that David Byrne footage from? And the Bowie footage?) This might make a it a little confusing if you don't recognize some of the bigger names immediately. Otherwise it is an outstanding piece of filmmaking.

I'm not going to try to guess who will win the awards, especially since there are several I haven't seen.

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