“The March of the Penguins” and “Mad Hot Ballroom,” two documentaries that drew impressive lines at box offices, are among 15 documentaries that made the cut for Oscar consideration, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Tuesday.
The 15 were chosen by the Academy’s Documentary Branch Screening Committee from 82 films. The list will be narrowed to five when Oscar nominations are announced on Jan. 31. The 78th annual Oscars will be presented on March 5.
The French-made “March of the Penguins,” a nature tale that humanizes the life of penguins, became a U.S. box office phenomenon by grossing $77 million in domestic ticket sales, second only to 2004’s “Fahrenheit 9/11,” the all-time top grossing documentary with $119 million in domestic receipts.
“Mad Hot Ballroom,” a heartwarming tale of New York City schoolchildren competing in a dance contest, earned critical raves plus $8 million in ticket grosses. Critics have called 2005 an exceptional year for documentaries, thanks in part to the success of “Penguins” and “Ballroom.”
Among the 13 other films making the short list are “After Innocence,” about three convicted men freed by DNA evidence, ”The Boys of Baraka,” about 12-year-olds from Baltimore going to school in Kenya, “Darwin’s Nightmare” about fishing for a predatory fish in a lake in Tanzania, “The Devil and Daniel Johnston,” about a tormented musical genius, and “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” about the collapse of the company.
Also on the list are “Favela Rising,” about slums outside of Rio de Janeiro, “Murderball,” a film about quadriplegics who play a form of wheelchair rugby, “Occupation: Dreamland” about the Iraqi war, “On Native Soil: The Documentary of the 9/11 Commission report,” “Rize” about a Los Angeles dance movement, “Street Fight,” about one man’s campaign to become mayor of Newark, “39 Pounds of Love,” about a man unable to move any part of his body and “Unknown White Male” about a man who woke up with total amnesia.