Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!
Everyone wants the last word.
Spellbound follows eight teenagers on their quest to win the 1999 National Spelling Bee.
Eye thawt tis moovy wuz allwrite
I kid you not, the first phrase that popped into my head after finishing this Oscar nominated documentary was "the journey is often more interesting than the destination".
Now, that doesn't mean to say Spellbound is bad, it really isn't. The stuff before the actual main event is really interesting as we get insight into the lives and preparation strategies for each of the 8 children we follow. However. after that, when we get to the spelling bee, it becomes much more like a generic "wow, that kid is clever" TV contest.
But there is real drama and real tension to be found here that I think would better suit a drama rather than a documentary.
One of the children annoyed me though. A girl says she is a pessimist. Bitch please, you're 12, what have you got to be pessimistic about. The world is your oyster and hasn't got around to fucking you in the anus yet.
After a year dark and depressing documentaries ("Bowling for Columbine," "Capturing the Friedmans"), it was such a pleasure to see a heartfelt non-fictional film dealing with the growing values of today’s children.
The filmmakers showcase eight 14-year-olds who have won local and regional spelling bees and we watch as they compete with 240 other students nationwide for the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. This is nerve-wracking stuff.
But it’s not just about the contest; it’s about the process of learning, what the kids do to memorize, how their parents support (or push) them, what drives them, and how they can use this experience and their obstacles to build a life based on strong work ethics and values.
A life-affirming doc, if there ever was one.
A pleasant break from all the ultra serious films I tend to fill my time with. Following a group of young spellers as they traverse the intense world of national spelling competitions. Spellbound creates an engrossing, study of childhood as well as the competitions we as a society create and put so much stock in. To paraphrase one of the parents "It's basically another form of child abuse".
Selected this documentary based on it's Oscar nomination and G rating to show my Film students a great example of an observational documentary. In the beginning as we learn about each of the kids in all of their varied backgrounds I have to admit I was a little bored. Then the national spelling bee started and WOW, was it intense. I would catch myself rooting for these kids, holding my breath in anticipation, or getting bummed when they would miss a word. It made sense that you see so much of the prep work in the beginning because you get invested in each of the contestants hoping they could win. Great editing.
One of the compelling things about Spellbound and part of its tremendous success for me was the choice to choose so many kids to follow from so many different places around the US. By just spending a few minutes with each family from a small, poor town with nothing to do besides going to a dilapidated 'theater' to the projects in Washington D.C. to expensive beach front property in California, I was completely invested in each kid by the time the spelling started. And like little miniature versions of Errol Morris' cross-sections of America, it always amazes me when I am reminded of how many people there are living in the United States (and by extension around the world), all…
I enjoyed the intelligence and hard-work of these children being celebrated, as well as the strategies they use, but beyond that this documentary offered little in the way of cutting insight or a deeper commentary of the pressures these bring.
A film with many words, but seemingly not much to really say.
(Original review outdated, re-evaluation required at later date)
Although it is not the Alfred Hitchcock film, this is one of the best documentaries I've seen in a while.
Eye thawt tis moovy wuz allwrite
Spellbound was Jeffrey Blitz's directorial debut & follows the trials & tribulations of 8 children as they prepare & ultimately take part in the 1999 National Spelling Bee.
It's incredible to watch kids go through this. I don't know if it's character-building or just torture, but some of them seem to enjoy it.
It's a good documentary. The tension is tangible.
It's strange just how invested you get into these kids lives, i found myself rooting for 2 people in particular for seemingly no reason at all. There's no big political statement, message or criticism, to these kids winning a spelling bee is the most important thing in the world and there's something truly charming about that.
The film made me care about 8 people in the space of 90 minutes, that's its biggest achievement.
It's hard not to get caught up in Jeffrey Blitz's Spellbound, a documentary about the peculiar tradition of American spelling bees. The surprise 2002 hit film follows a group of teens and pre-teens from around the US as they gather to take part in a national spelling competition in Washington.
Similar in some respects to Steve James's Hoop Dreams, which also explores the meaning of the American Dream, Blitz uses his subjects' journeys to the spelling bee to examine a whole host of idiosyncrasies and definitions of success. From the excessive training hours and pressure on some children, to the bee's prize money representing a life-changing event, the competition boils down to opportunity and a chance to achieve something through…
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