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Bill Maher's 'Religulous' snubbed by Academy

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If the documentary branch of the Academy is trying to make themselves irrelevant, they’re doing a mighty fine job. Yesterday the 15 semi-finalists for next year’s Best Documentary were announced, and noticeably absent from the list was Bill Maher’s massively entertaining Religulous, which is by far the highest-grossing doc of the year. Now, that statistic alone shouldn’t qualify it as an Oscar front-runner—that would be like saying Pirates of the Caribbean should have been a Best Picture nominee. But whether or not Religulous ended up actually scoring a nomination next January, it certainly should have made this week’s shortlist. Then again, this is the same group that also omitted Grizzly Man from the list of semi-finalists and neglected to nominate the terrific Dixie Chicks doc Shut Up and Sing two years ago. The message here seems to be: If your documentary manages that rare feat of actually entering into the cultural zeitgeist, don’t expect the Academy to pat you on the back too.