If you don’t have cable or got it mixed with that damn Cuba Gooding Jr. show, you might have missed out on O.J.: Made in America, this writer’s personal pick for best documentary of the year and one that just got nominated for an Oscar.
There’s still plenty of time to see it, as it’s on Hulu or on WatchESPN, but both of those kind of suck. Why on Earth would you watch such an amazing work of art on your phone or on a service that can barely load an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia without crashing? Luckily, the fine folks at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge have you covered this weekend. You can see it the way that it was meant to be seen — on the big screen, broken up as little as possible by commercial breaks and arbitrary television scheduling concerns, and truly dive deep into the American mess that was the O.J. Simpson trial.
Slightly overshadowed by its pulpier (but still fantastic) FX narrative cousin The People vs. O. J. Simpson, and hampered by the demands of its broadcaster, which wanted it to air over the course of five nights in June, O. J.: Made in America is an absolute masterpiece when given the proper time and attention to observe its many qualities.
Director Ezra Edelman avoids the more sensational aspects of this case to hone in on its various meanings to each audience, white or black, who watched the trial unfold, motivations laid bare for our eyes to see. At one point, it’s about the culture of USC Football; at another, it’s about the history of the LAPD and their appearances to the public; elsewhere, it’s about the dissection of O. J. the icon, et cetera, et cetera. None of the discussions or the analysis offer feel like direct-to-the-camera editorializing, and it just feels fresh and honest. It’s so well-sourced that it feels like there should be footnotes at the end of every shot for inquiring minds to find out more about each snippet of previously unknown fact.
It is truly a sweeping American masterpiece, and it’s hard for us to overstate how essential viewing this film truly is.
O.J.: Made in America’s three parts are finally receiving a proper showing at the Brattle throughout the weekend, culminating in a day-long marathon showing of the whole seven-and-a-half-hour documentary on Monday (January 30). Edelman, will be there in attendance for the Monday marathon showing, and will also be on hand for a Q&A after the film. If you go, congratulate him on his Oscar nomination (take that, David Schwimmer), and then thank him for making such an fantastic fucking movie. Go on. Do it.
O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA :: The Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St. in Cambridge, MA :: Saturday, January 28 to Monday, January 30 (with a marathon showing on Monday, January 30) :: Check Brattle listings for showtimes :: $10 to $25 :: Advance tickets