Oscar 2007: Documentaries about Iraq and Political Issues

This year, the Best Documentary category is expectedly the most political and polemic one. Three nominees out of the five are about the war on terrorism, and their presence alone is reminder of the dark times in which we live.

“No End in Sight,” “Taxi to the Darkside,” and “Operation Homecoming” are poignant and impassioned examinations of the human cost of the war on terror, and yet what's disappointing is their isolation in the movie scenes, judging by commercial appeal and box-office gross.

The commercial failure of mainstream Iraq war movies such as “Rendition,” “Lions for Lambs,” and “In the Valley of Elah,” has justified the absence of overt political content from Hollywood entertaining fare.

As several critics have point out, documentary filmmakers have become the underfunded and underexposed keepers of anything approaching objective truth and political insight.

As Kevin Maher pointed out, these works are mostly self-financed and long-suffering. They go to the war zones the administration has created, they find the stories neglected and they speak to the people we've ignored. In short, they make films that matter.

So if they pick up that golden statuette on Sunday night, and they don't thank their agents, their high-school teachers and their dead relatives, there's probably a good reason.