Gregory Ellwood calls Look of Silence the “Oscar frontrunner,” but I’m not so sure about that. The Oscar doc branch is a strange and unpredictable bunch. The last Joshua Oppenheimer doc did not win because Twenty Feet from Stardom did (Weinstein Co.) Last year Weinstein Co. took the season with the Edward Snowden capture, CitizenFour. This year, Oppenheimer’s film will be going up against Fox Searchlight’s doc, He Named Me Malala — and her message of hope could resonate, even if the film itself is not a critics’ darling, or popular with the documentary committee. It isn’t that they go for the most popular documentary (in this case, that might be Amy or Meru). It’s that they tend to orbit in their own documentary branch bubble. It is neither here nor there but can be hard to predict.
What Oppenheimer has going for him this time around is that they didn’t award Act of Killing in 2014 and there could be some residual blowback for that. They awarded a female director last year, which lets them off the hook this year from awarding another one. Still, it remains a difficult category to call.
Other winners included “Listen to Me Marlon” for Best Writing, “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” for Best Editing and “The Russian Woodpecker” for Best Cinematography.[source]