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    Al Gore, Oscar Contender?

    He might have missed out on the White House, but Al Gore is in contention for an even bigger prize: an Oscar.

    An Inconvenient Truth, the former veep's documentary about the potentially devastating effects of climate change, is among 15 films making the shortlist for the Best Documentary Feature category for the upcoming Academy Awards, Oscar organizers announced Thursday.

    Released last May, the Gore-fronted doc attempts a straightforward presentation of the scientific evidence for global warming to help promote alternative energy and treat climate change as a national security issue. To date, An Inconvenient Truth's worldwide ticket sales stand at $35 million, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, ranking third all time behind Fahrenheit 9/11 and March of the Penguins.

    That doesn't make it a lock, however.

    Among An Inconvenient Truth's chief competitors is the well-received Jesus Camp, which follows a group of children who attend a summer camp for evangelical Christians. (One of the Bible-thumping ministers featured in the film, Ted Haggard, made headlines this month when he resigned from his megachurch after admitting to buying methamphetamines from a gay prostitute.)

    Also making the cut: An Unreasonable Man, about the life and career of consumer advocate and presidential candidate Ralph Nader; Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, the true story of the 1978 mass murder-suicide of San Francisco preacher Jim Jones and 900 of his followers in Guyana; Deliver Us from Evil, an exposé of the Catholic Church's attempts to hide a pedophile priest; and Shut Up and Sing, a look at the backlash endured by the Dixie Chicks after singer Natalie Maines made anti-Bush comments at a 2003 concert.

    There's also a trio of documentaries about the Iraq conflict: The Ground Truth, Iraq in Fragments and The War Tapes. The first deals with the psychological effects of war and the difficulty transitioning to life at home. The second film addresses the U.S.-led war and occupation from the perspective of Iraqi civilians. And in War Tapes, soldiers recount their own experiences in Iraq based on footage they shot themselves.

    According to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the folks who put on the Oscars every year, the 15 films were pared down from a list of 81 eligible submissions by the Academy's documentary screening committee.

    Members of the Academy's documentary branch will ultimately come up with five finalists when nominations for the 79th Academy Awards are announced Jan. 23. The statuettes will be handed out live at Hollywood's Kodak Theater on Feb. 25.

     

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