Gold Derby nuggets: Hit docs left off Oscars long list | Crazy journey for 'Crazy Heart' | 'Lost' returns Feb. 2
• Only 15 of the 89 feature-length documentaries eligible made it onto the academy's long list that will now be winnowed down to a final five by members of the documentary branch. Among those widely distributed docs that failed to make the cut were Oscar champ Michael Moore's ("Bowling for Columbine") latest effort "Capitalism: A Love Story" -- which merited just 61 at Metacritic -- as well as "The September Issue" (MC score of 69), Oscar winner Davis Guggenheim's ("An Inconvenient Truth") rock doc "It Might Get Loud" (MC score of 70), "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" (MC score of 82) and "Tyson" (MC score of 83). Each of the sub-themes of those snubbed docs remains represented in the race with the social activism of "Food, Inc." (MC score of 80), fashion folk and "Valentino: The Last Emperor" (MC score of 68), entertainment and the Broadway-based "Every Little Step" (score of 76) and sports icons and "Facing Ali." AMPAS
• Leading off the Oscarologists weighing in on the documentary semifinalists was Steve Pond (THE ODDS) who said, "The fact that the voters have to see every movie before voting throws many of the usual yardsticks (visibility, momentum, popularity) out the window." Anne Thomspon (THOMPSON ON HOLLYWOOD) noted, "Only six of the fifteen films were theatrically released, which suggests that the committee is trying to help movies that still need a boost." Dave Karger (ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY) observed, "For the most part, though, it’s a good group of films. After ignoring Bill Maher’s 'Religulous' last year, the documentary branch has included several commercially successful entries." And Jeff Wells (HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE) bemoaned the exclusion of "Anvil," calling the movie "one of '09's most offbeat and emotionally engaging (one could even apply the term 'heart-warming') docs."
• In his sneak peek at the new poster for "Precious," Greg Ellwood says that, "the studio has already released two impressive posters for the picture, but until now they had not put star Gabby Sidibe front and center in the film's print campaign." As Greg notes, "Featuring some of the top critical notices 'Precious' has already received, the poster will not only grab the attention of Academy and Guild voters, but accurately places it as a prestige picture moviegoers who only see three to four films a year can't miss." HIT FIX
• Can Gabby really win best actress at the Academy Awards? In his comprehensive review of the race Glenn Whipp reminds Oscar watchers, "Almost every time a member of the Academy's old guard goes against a relative newcomer in the lead actress category, the Oscar goes to the ingenue." VARIETY
• Michael Cieply does a crackerjack job reporting on the back story of how "Crazy Heart" came to the forefront this awards season. Among the fascinating tidbits unearthed by Michael: "The tale had its turning point in July in Sun Valley, Idaho. While moguls were pondering the future of content and the impact of Google at their annual retreat, Jeff Berg, chairman of International Creative Management, was hounding Thomas E. Dooley, chief financial officer of Viacom, over the fate of 'Crazy Heart,' which had been made for about $7 million by Country Music Television, a unit of Viacom. That media conglomerate’s Paramount Pictures division had the right to distribute the film, but it was not interested. Mr. Berg, whose agency represents the movie’s writer and director, Scott Cooper, wanted permission from Mr. Dooley to sell it to a rival, lest the picture wind up in a scrap heap of straight-to-video releases. He got it, clearing the way for a purchase by Fox Searchlight Pictures, a division of the giant News Corporation. " NEW YORK TIMES
• Gold Derby reported Wednesday that "An Education" aims to enter the Golden Globes race as a comedy/musical film. However, a source for Sony Pictures Classics says "An Education" has asked the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. for a drama classification.
• Our formidable forums moderator Chris "Boomer" Beachum joins a distinguished team of formidable pundits from USA Today, Entertainment Weekly and the Hollywood Reporter while predicting who'll be nominated for the Screen Actors' Guild TV awards. He foresees nominations for Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory"), Toni Collette ("United States of Tara") and Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad"). BACK STAGE
• "Lost" can be found on Tuesday nights when it returns to the ABC lineup for its sixth and final season beginning Feb. 2. A one-hour recap will air before the two-hour season premiere. "Lost " won the Emmy for best drama series for its first season in 2006, failed to compete for the next two seasons, and lost its last two bids to "Mad Men."
• Native son Werner Herzog has been named as jury president for the diamond anniversary edition of the Berlin film festival next February. The celebrated filmmaker has contended at Berlin twice: winning the Silver Bear in 1968 for best first film for "Signs of Life" and again in 1979 with "Nosferatu." In making the announcement, the festival lauded Herzog: "As one of the most significant personalities of New German Cinema, he has influenced an entire generation of filmmakers." BERLINALE
• Todd Martens tells us that, "Without a hit or even an album, Nick Jonas is getting a prime-time, Grammy-endorsed unveiling for his new band, Nick Jonas and the Administration. Though it won't be nominated for an award at the 2010 edition of the gala, the solo outing from Nick has been added to the Recording Academy's Dec. 2 CBS special in which the 2010 Grammy noms will be revealed." POP & HISS
Photos: "Capitalism: A Love Story" poster (Overture); "Crazy Heart" poster (Fox Searchlight); "Lost" logo (ABC)