Flixist Awards 2012: Best Documentary


The much maligned documentary gets an unfair shake. You say documentary to someone and they think talking heads and boredom. However, as this year’s nominees show, that’s pretty much one of the most inaccurate statements ever. Documentaries are often far more interesting and fascinating than most narrative film, and the best part is that they’re true stories.

It’s a simple fact, but that just doubles how amazing they are. It also allows them to focus on things that narrative film never can. Small stories or specific people that wouldn’t make for a great narrative film are incredible subjects for documentaries. That’s easily what this year’s nominees show as they showcase people who rise above and persevere. However, only one of them did it best…

As you can see above Jiro Dreams of Sushi is food porn at it’s best, and that is so far from a bad thing. Yes, a large chunk of this documentary is spent watching a piece of raw fish get placed on a plate, but it turns out to be the best thing ever. Director David Gelb masterfully documents the life of master sushi chef Jiro almost refusing to tell a story in the normal narrative structure the entire time. Instead he constructs his film to define a man simply by the actions he takes, the people around him and the food he creates. There’s no conflict or build up, instead the film gracefully shows us what it means to be dedicated to a craft. What it means to have meaning. Instead of rooting out controversy the movie is content to define character. Yes, we’re just looking at sushi on a plate, but the genius is there is so much more behind it.

It’s not like our other contenders weren’t great, though Jiro did run away with the vote. As was noted previously the Flixist staff clearly likes stories about truly interesting people. The Imposter is probably the only odd man out up there as it’s a harrowing tale of a family being duped, but the rest stand out not because of their striking stories, but because of the striking people they’re about. We’d recommend you dive into all of this as fast as you can because it’s often hard to dig up even the best documentaries after their time in the light.

The Imposter
Persistence of Vision
Searching for Sugarman
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry 


Matthew Razak
Matthew Razak is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Flixist. He has worked as a critic for more than a decade, reviewing and talking about movies, TV shows, and videogames. He will talk your ear off about James Bond movies, Doctor Who, Zelda, and Star Trek.