Life Itself, Steve James’s documentary on late film critic Roger Ebert (pictured), rebounded from its Oscars snub yesterday (January 15) by winning the Critics’ Choice prize for best documentary.
The film beat out Citizenfour, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, Jodorowsky’s Dune, Last Days in Vietnam and The Overnighters to take the prize at the 20th annual Broadcast Film Critics Association-organized event, held at the Hollywood Palladium.
The win came after the film was snubbed by Oscar voters earlier in the day, to the surprise of many. For director James, the decision marked the third time that one of his highly and widely acclaimed documentaries had been rejected by Academy members, following the contentious snubbing of 2011′s The Interrupters and 1994′s Hoop Dreams.
In a statement posted yesterday, Chaz Ebert – widow of film subject Roger Ebert – was gracious about the Academy’s decision.
“I congratulate all the nominees in the Documentary category, as I see the documentary filmmakers and the people and issues they bring to our attention as needed heroes in today’s world,” she wrote. “And I send out a particularly affectionate congratulations to Charlie Siskel, Gene Siskel’s nephew, for his nomination for Finding Vivian Maier.”
Meanwhile, Citizenfour director Laura Poitras and Last Days in Vietnam director Rory Kennedy were among the Oscar-nominated directors to express their shock at Life Itself‘s Oscar nomination omission.
“Steve James should have been on this list,” Poitras told Variety. “When his name wasn’t up there, I thought, ‘How is that possible?’ He’s a legend in our field with an incredible body of work.”