It’s late January, which means it’s high time I got round to doing my annual review of the year’s documentaries.
2018 was a seventeen documentary year. One year I may make it to 24 documentaries in a year – two documentaries a month isn’t that hard a target – but the nature of documentary release schedules over here creates a feast or famine situation – I saw six documentaries in the cinema during November. However, overall, I must confess that I found a lot of the documentaries that I saw during 2018 to be…underwhelming. There were some good and compelling documentaries, but there were very few that blew me away, or even made me want to enthuse about them to fellow film buff friends and colleagues. There were definitely some gems – Nae Pasaran, City of Ghosts, Rebels on Pointe, RBG, The Devil We Know and Story Telling for Earthly Survival stood out for me – but I don’t think I saw anything that made me actively annoyed, as I was watching Roller Dreams last year, that more people weren’t there to see it.
Despite having actually watched a decent number of eligible documentaries during 2017, only one – An Inconvenient Sequel – was nominated for either a BAFTA or an Oscar. (Though it turns out that one of the films I watched this year was BAFTA nominated last year.) Likewise in 2018 only one film that could have been eligible is up for either an Oscar or a BAFTA – the admittedly excellent RBG. Though I do note that I had at least heard of most of the documentaries nominated for BAFTA this year, whereas most of the Oscar nominations I hadn’t even heard about, which likely means they’re not out here yet.
Oddly enough, all the documentaries I saw this year were fairly recent documentaries, nothing made longer ago than five years ago. I’m not sure what that says about my documentary viewing in general. Well, I do know what it says to a certain extent, it says that I’ve watched almost all the documentaries that I had been collecting on DVD over the previous few years, which is definitely a good thing. However, I think this year I’ll try and mix things up a bit more, try and see some more classics so I can focus my contemporary documentary watching on films on topics that really excite my enthusiasm.