’20 Feet From Stardom’ and ‘Becoming Santa’ Top This Week’s Nonfics Home Picks


Most people don’t get to see documentaries until they arrive on a home video platform of some kind, whether it’s DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, iTunes, TV, Netflix streaming, etc. So, this may be the most important post of the week for fans of nonfics. Join us every Tuesday for a look at what documentaries and reality programming is recommended by myself and other contributors to the site. As always, if you know of something we missed or should be aware of, drop us an email or a note down below.

Here are our ordered picks for December 17, 2013:

1. 20 Feet From Stardom

[New to iTunes/Amazon Instant Video] — It may not have made Landon’s list of the five must see music docs of the year, but Morgan Neville’s film about backup singers remains my favorite of the year in that category. And I’m still surprised at how great it is, because something like this doesn’t have to be so entertaining while also so insightful about the last 50 years of pop music history. Starring legendary voices Merry Clayton and Darlene Love plus newcomer Judith Hill and Lisa Fischer — and some of the stars that have long overshadowed them and others (Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Sting and more) — it’s also one of the films recently shortlisted for the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature and is one of our predictions for an actual nomination. While a digital copy of a movie doesn’t look great under the tree, it’s a good thing this movie has arrived in some format before Christmas, as I did mention it in a post as being a great gift idea for music lovers. Listen to The Realness podcast episode 4 for an in depth discussion and review of the film.

Available on DVD on January 14, 2014.

2. Becoming Santa

[Yearly Tradition] — There is no new format of choice for this 2011 documentary about a man who becomes Santa Claus for a season, but it’s a wonderful documentary to add to your usual Christmastime movie rotation. In my review for Indiewire’s Spout, I offered an alternative title of “Santa Claus Me” for the way it follows that Morgan Spurlock model of a subject transforming his life temporarily for the sake of a story. After taking a class to be made official, he makes public appearances as the character while also investigating the history of the holiday mascot, in both the traditional folklore and the modern pop culture arenas. As the Santa becomer, Jack Sanderson (also co-writer/co-director of this year’s new rom-com She Loves Me Not) is a terrific main character, often downright hilarious. If you have room in between viewings of It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story and Die Hard, this is a highly recommended modern holiday classic.

Available on DVD, iTunes and Amazon Instant Video

New to DVD [and/or Blu-ray]:

The Bellman Equation

Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony

Crafting a Nation

Cuban America

Frontline: League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis

The Graduates/Los Graduados

Greek Gods Heroes and Monsters

The Leah Daughtry Story: A Woman of Faith and Politics

Linda Lovelace’s Loose Lips: The Last Interview With Legs McNeil

Ocean Giants 3D [Blu-ray]

One Direction: This Is Us (Nonfics ★★★ Review) [Also available on Blu-ray]

Rocky Mountains 3D [Blu-ray]

Secrets of Scotland Yard

Signs & Secrets: The Worlds of Umberto Eco

Stalin: The Red God

The United States of Autism

Vinylmania: When Life Runs at 33 Revolutions Per Minute

Wild Madagascar 3D [Blu-ray]

New to Netflix Watch Instantly:

(A) Sexual [Stream Now]

American Addict [Stream Now]

Blackfish (Nonfics Home Pick 10/22/13) [Stream Now]

Food, Inc. [Stream starting 12/20/13]

Our Nixon [Stream Now]

The Short Game [Stream Now]

Talhotblond [Stream Now]

New to iTunes/VOD:

10 MPH [Amazon Instant Video]

20 Feet From Stardom [Amazon Instant Video]

Join Us [Amazon Instant Video]

Granito: How to Nail a Dictator [Amazon Instant Video]

Love, Marilyn [Amazon Instant Video]

Mayan Renaissance [Amazon Instant Video]

The Space Invaders: In Search of Lost Time [Sony Playstation and XBOX]

Trust Us, This Is All Made Up [Amazon Instant Video]

The Vivian Maier Mystery [iTunes/Amazon Instant Video/Movies On Demand]

Must-See Nonfiction TV:

99% — The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film [12/17 on Pivot, 12pm ET]

Kings Point [12/17 on HBO 2, 2pm ET]

Dragonslayer [12/17 on Showtime Extreme, 3pm ET]

Carol Channing: Larger Than Life [12/17 on Showtime Women, 5:30pm ET]

The Queen of Versailles [12/17 on CNBC, 9pm ET]

West of Memphis [12/17 on Starz Cinema, 10pm ET]

Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston [12/18 on The Movie Channel, 1:15am ET]

Mandela [12/18 on Starz in Black, 6:30am ET]

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God [12/18 on HBO 2, 8:15am ET]

The Gatekeepers [12/18 on Starz Cinema, 12:15pm ET]

What Would Jesus Buy? [12/18 on Free Speech TV, 1pm ET]

The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia [12/18 on The Movie Channel, 8pm ET]

Space Station [12/19 on 3net, 5am ET]

Chimpanzee [12/19 on Starz Edge, 5:10am ET]

Dogtown and Z-Boys [12/19 on Ovation, 4pm ET]

Beware of Mr. Baker [12/19 on Showtime Next, 5pm ET]

Incident in New Baghdad [12/19 on Pivot, 5:30pm ET]

Catfish [12/19 on MTV, 10pm ET]

Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment [12/19 on Pivot, 10pm ET]

Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic [12/20 on Showtime 2, 12:30am ET]

Searching for Sugar Man [12/20 on Starz Cinema, 2am ET]

Paul Williams Still Alive [12/20 on Showcase, 5am ET]

The Loving Story [12/20 on HBO 2, 6:05am ET]

War Photographer [12/20 on Pivot, 8am ET]

The Crash Reel [12/21 on HBO 2, 1:15pm ET]

Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington [12/21 on HBO Signature, 4pm ET]

Startup.com [12/21 on FLiX, 4:30pm ET]

Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon [12/22 on 3net, 4pm ET]

Janis [12/23 on Ovation, 1am ET]

I’m Still Here [12/23 on Showtime 2, 2:10am ET]

Pussy Riot — A Punk Prayer (One of 5 Must See Music Docs of 2013) [12/24 on HBO Signature, 12:30am ET]

The Other F Word [12/24 on Showtime Women, 2:50am ET]

Woody Allen: A Documentary [12/24 on MGM HD, 10am ET]

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.