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Banksy, artist and prankster, shortlisted for an Academy Award

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Banksy graffiti

Reclusive and anonymous artist Banksy, the subject of great controversy and discussion in the art world, may end up being the first painter nominated for (or even winning) an Academy Award. Banksy directed the mysterious feature Exit Through the Gift Shop, surely one of the most exciting and fascinating movies released in 2010, and now he's been shortlisted for an Oscar for Best Documentary for his efforts.

Exit is a tough sell with the Academy's notoriously finicky voters: most of the press about the film has concentrated around its subject, a out-of-nowhere artist named Mr. Brainwash, who some believe is either Banksy himself or a Banksy plant, ordered through life by a notorious prankster hell-bent on goofing on all of us zombie-like art buyers. These critics accuse Banksy or perpetuating some sort of hoax on the art world, which would be easy enough to do since the industry is driven by a mad desire to find the next, well, Banksy.

I've already said too much. Exit comes out on DVD on December 14th.

Meanwhile, author and journalist Sebastian Junger's Restrepo was also among the fifteen titles that the Academy will whittle down to five nominees. While predictable titles like Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer and Waiting For "Superman" are on there, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work and Werner Herzog's 3D The Cave of Forgotten Dreams were both left out.