Going Clear (about Scientology): Gibney’s Docu Shut Out

In an unexpected twist, the Alex Gibney-helmed Scientology documentary Going Clear was snubbed by Oscar voters.

The film, which is a critical expose on the religion and features interviews with such Academy members as Scientology defector Paul Haggis, had been on the shortlist of 15 films for Oscar documentaries.

The HBO film also had won three Emmys, including for best documentary and best documentary director and had made a strong presence among critics group awards.

Going Clear and the Prison of Belief had stoked controversy in Hollywood when it took a critical look at the religion, which has many high-profile adherents in the industry, including Tom Cruise and John Travolta, who have five previous Oscar nominations between the two of them.

Gibney also is a familiar entity with Oscar voters, having won the best documentary award in 2008 for Taxi to the Dark Side. He also was previously nominated for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.

Instead, the five feature-length documentaries competing for the Oscar are Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees’ Amy, Matthew Heineman and Tom Yellin’s Cartel Land, Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sorensen’s The Look of Silence, Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby and Justin Wilkes’ What Happened, Miss Simone? and Evgeny Afineevsky and Den Tolmor’s Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom.

Going Clear and the Prison of Belief isn’t the only high-profile documentary to get the cold shoulder from Oscar voters. Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next, which also had been shortlisted by the Academy, failed to score a nomination.