Each year an Academy Award is given for the Best Documentary and usually I have not seen any of the nominated films. I think it ‘s because they are rarely shown in a theater near me before they win an Oscar. Now, there is a solution to that. We can either rent or buy some of them on DVDs or catch a lot of them on Netflix and pay-per-view channels on cable. Still, I had rather see them on the big screen with the big sound in a theater. Also, being a part of an in-person audience is a dynamic you don’t get at home.
Fortunately some get shown in the Screening Room at the Carmike Ritz 13 in Columbus. And some get so much publicity they even make it to the larger stadium-seating theaters. Michael Moore’s highly controversial docs quite often make it to the larger theaters, for instance. They attract large audiences and make mega-bucks.
Still, there are many critically acclaimed docs ones that I never seen. I came across a bunch of them when I decided to check out the director of the new feature film If I Stay. R.J. Cutler got an Oscar nomination for The War Room, which got rave reviews when it was released in 1993. No, it’s not about the famous War Room, a bunker that was used as headquarters by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the U.K.’s top military staff during World War II. It was preserved and is open to the public in London. I saw it and was really impressed. The Cutler War Room film is about the inner-workings of the Bill Clinton’s first campaign for president. If he had lost, Cutler and company felt the doc would fail, but he didn’t lose and the doc was not a failure.
He also made A Perfect Candidate, which was about the Virginia U.S. Senate election in which Republican Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, famous for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, narrowly lost to Democrat Charles S. Robb. a Vietnam War hero and former Virginia governor. Both candidates gave Cutler’s film crew access to their campaigns. The film got rave reviews. The Washington Post’s critic called A Perfect Candidate and The War Room the two best political documentaries ever made.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to rent those docs, and many others that I missed over the years that probably never played in a theater near me.
I just saw a really good new one about finding the world’s most complete skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex on a home TV screen, Dinosaur 13, that features Bill Harlan, a former South Dakota journalist who now lives in Columbus and is a friend of mine. It is playing in theaters in most of the country, as well as Canada, the United Kingdom, and some other countries, but not in the Southeastern United States. I hope Carmike Cinemas will remedy that situation. Meanwhile, checkout this YouTube about a T-Rex and a really big snake.