Notably absent from the shortlist are Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story and the highly praised Anvil! The Story of Anvil, which last month earned the distinction of being the first "for your consideration" screener sent to Academy members this year. Last year's best-reviewed documentary, Man on Wire, went on to win the Oscar; Anvil! holds that title this year (98% at Rotten Tomatoes), but it's not even going to be nominated.
Other noteworthy titles not among the top 15: Tyson (about the boxer, not the chicken company) and The September Issue (about Anna Wintour and Vogue magazine). Michael Jackson's This Is It and Chris Rock's Good Hair didn't hit theaters until October, qualifying them for next year's documentary category -- for docs, the eligibility period is September-August, not January-December. (This Is It might not be eligible anyway, since Academy rules forbid films that are "essentially unfiltered records of performances," which could apply here.) The highest-grossing documentary of the year, Earth, isn't eligible because it was mostly repackaged material that had already aired on TV.
The complete shortlist is after the jump.
The Beaches of Agnes (which Cinematical's Jeffrey M. Anderson called "a strong contender for the year's best documentary")
The Cove (our review)
Every Little Step
Food, Inc. (our review)
Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
Mugabe and the White African
Soundtrack for a Revolution
Under Our Skin
Valentino: The Last Emperor
Which Way Home (our review)
Any other snubs we missed? And of these 15, which would you choose as the nominees? What have you thought about documentaries in general this year?
(By the way: We Live in Public, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, was released in New York before the deadline but not in L.A. until after. Academy rules say that in order to qualify, a film must play theatrically in New York AND Los Angeles, and that both runs must occur in the same eligibility year.)