Ex-President Obama fighting farmers and hackers in Oscar battle

Former President Obama may have an Oscar in his future.

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The first film released from the Netflix deal with Higher Ground Productions, run by the former first lady Michelle Obama and the 44th president, made the “shortlist” Monday from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Their documentary, “American Factory,” is one of three business-focused films that earned “shortlist” status for the 92 annual Academy Awards.

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For the second year in a row, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Science released a “shortlist” of nine categories. While none are for the ever-important Best Picture or the star-studded Best Actor or Actress, the list for “Best Documentary Feature” offered 15 potential nominees. The list will be narrowed down to the final five on Jan. 13.

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One hundred fifty-nine films were submitted in the category. Members of the Documentary Branch of the Academy voted to determine the shortlist and will vote from this list for the nominees.

The three films with a business bent are:

American Factory

The first film from Higher Ground Productions looks at a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory on the site of a former General Motors plant. The film follows the hope and optimism of the factory but the challenges and China clashes of matching high-tech China with working-class America. Released in August for a short theatrical run, box office figures are not available. It is now available on Netflix.

The Biggest Little Farm

A couple decide to create a sustainable farm on 200 acres just outside of Los Angeles and this film tracks the triumphs and travails. The director is one of the farmers who famously did not sell this doc to Netflix. It has made more than $4 million since its May 10th theatrical release and is available on Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube, Google  Play and Vudu.

The Great Hack

Details the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Box office figures are not available but it is another Netflix doc.

The last business-centered documentary film to take home the Oscar was 2011’s “Inside Job” about the Great Recession and the financial meltdown. It was narrated by Oscar-winning actor Matt Damon.

The Oscars will air live on ABC on Feb. 9th.

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