The frontrunner for the Best Documentary Oscar is Amy – the life, career and descent of Amy Winehouse. And it deserves that damn Oscar.
Amy (2015) is directed by Asif Kapadi and showcases the storied and troubled career of British jazz singer Amy Winehouse. From her sudden rise to stardom, to her spiralling drug problems, Amy follows the titular protagonist through the highs and lows of her career to eventually (and inevitably) crash into her sad but expected fate.
The documentary itself has been patched together with a mesh of media footage, personal videos and Amy’s actual music. The personal videos in particular are enthralling on their own, and make the documentary feel very personal and authentic (even though the family has distanced themselves from the documentary, as often happens). Through Asif’s careful construction of the impressive footage you see multiple sides to the icon – the bubbly young girl blossoming into stardom, the edgy celebrity frustrated with her constant spotlight, and ultimately a very troubled young woman looking for freedom and comfort in the bottom of a bottle. While the first half struggles to engage during the standard ‘rise to fame’, once the drama starts Amy drags you through a murky forest of drugs, helplessness and celebrity pressures that not only feels honest and personal, but also achingly accurate.
If jazz, a great documentary, or Amy Winehouse herself grabs your attention, Amy is well worth seeking out. Its honest, powerful, tinged with sadness and is a sterling tribute to one of Britain’s most prolific musical talents.
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
Film Buffs: Highly Recommended
True Believers (Jazz): Must See