Ford On Film

Chronicles of a silver screen addict

The Fordonfilm Year End Awards Part 2: Best Documentary

After handing out the award for Most Disappointing Film of the Year to Only God Forgives, I’m now moving on to a more positive achievement: Best Documentary. There have been some terrific docs this year, covering a range of topics, and here are the three I found to be the best:


Beware of Mr. Baker


All you need to know about this film going in is that Ginger Baker is quite possibly the angriest man in music. The former Cream drummer, now all but penniless in South Africa, hates just about everybody he’s crossed paths with, including director Jay Bulger, whose nose he breaks in the rather shocking opening scene. Apart from being an interesting look at a true legend, whose experienced everything the world has to offer, it’s also a rather sad tale; Baker tears up when talking about his influences and best friends within the industry, whilst archive footage of Ginger’s highlights in Cream compared to his 90’s run in Masters of Reality, in which he found himself booed and heckled every night, is truly depressing. You don’t have to love Ginger Baker to love Beware of Mr. Baker; you just need to be interested by him.


Side By Side


Side By Side, presented by Keanu Reeves, is a terrific look at the ever changing world of film making, and the change to digital. A huge array of actors and directors, including Martin Scorcese, David Lynch, Danny Boyle and Christopher Nolan talk passionately about their experiences, whilst footage from a range of films is made to look all the more beautiful. As well as being genuinely interesting and giving many influential artists the chance to talk about a subject they’re clearly devoted to, Christopher Keaneally’s documentary allows us a view into just a few of the production roles we rarely see elsewhere, providing us with an in-depth look at the world of film making.


The Act of Killing


Could it be anything else? My pick for film of the year, Joshua Oppenheimer’s staggering documentary is a horrifying look into the distressingly normal world of government-approved murderers. Despite leading interviewee Anwar Congo’s clear guilt and suffering over the events later in the film, most of the gangsters interviewed are completely fine with the subject, some even making disgusting jokes. Giving these people a chance to make their own films on the subject leads to an exotic dance and sing-along number, a disturbing beheading and a straight up gangster film, but its the small moments that are the most powerful. The ending, especially, is a long, disturbing look at a man only just realising the extent of his crimes.

Thank you for reading my picks for the Best Documentaries of the year, and I hope you’ll join me next time as I hand out another award!

By Harry Ford


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