Al Gore’s sequel to “An Inconvenient Truth” has ended up on the shortlist for Oscar consideration despite questions about its credibility raised by challenges to some of its climate-change claims.
“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” was among the 15 films included by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on its list of those still in the hunt for 2017 Best Documentary, which will be pared down to five finalists when the nominees are announced Jan. 23.
“We are humbled to be on the Oscars shortlist for Best Documentary Feature. Our message is more important than ever,” said the film’s Twitter account after the list was released Thursday.
The Oscar buzz comes despite pushback from skeptics, led by University of Alabama in Huntsville climatologist Roy Spencer, a former NASA scientist who accused Mr. Gore of attributing natural phenomena to human-caused climate change.
In September, Mr. Spencer published an 84-page e-book, “An Inconvenient Deception,” which blasted the film as “bursting with bad science, bad policy, and some outright falsehoods.”
“An Inconvenient Truth” was similarly rebuked by skeptics — Danish academic Bjorn Lomborg challenged it in a book and film called “Cool It”—but the movie earned $24 million at the box office, making it the 11th-highest grossing documentary of all time, according to Box Office Mojo.
“An Inconvenient Truth” also won the 2007 Academy Awards for Best Documentary and Best Original Song, and helped bring Mr. Gore the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on human-caused climate change.
The sequel wasn’t exactly a bomb but fell short of expectations, earning $3.5 million since its July release despite endorsements from celebrities like Paul McCartney and Bono while registering a tepid 49 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Critics were kinder, giving the sequel a 78 percent rating, but even those who liked the movie were less than effusive in their praise, using accolades such as “workmanlike” and “a hugely effective lecture.”
“Would I still recommend ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’? Sure, although I doubt there is much one could glean from this movie that couldn’t be obtained by rewatching ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’” said Salon reviewer Matthew Rosza.
Mr. Spencer’s e-book, now in its second edition, wound up becoming a surprise Amazon bestseller in the categories of climatology, science and math, and environmental science.
One hotly contested scene shows Mr. Gore walking in ankle-deep water in the streets of Miami Beach, which he blames on sea-level rise due to climate change but which Mr. Spencer describes as a “natural rise [that is] magnified because buildings and streets were constructed on reclaimed swampland that has been sinking.”
Mr. Gore also says in footage featured in the trailer that he was proven correct when he predicted in “An Inconvenient Truth” that the 9/11 Memorial in New York City would be underwater, which Mr. Lomborg disputed.
“Then viewers are shown footage of Manhattan taking on water in 2012 after superstorm Sandy, apparently vindicating Mr. Gore’s claims,” said Mr. Lomborg in a June 27 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. “Never mind that what he actually predicted was flooding caused by melting ice in Greenland.”
The skeptics’ website Climate Depot challenged more than a dozen of the film’s assertions in an extensive fact-check, while climate blogger Joanne Nova accused Mr. Gore of relying on “cherry-picked extremes.”
Mr. Gore, the former Democratic vice president, has not responded publicly to the criticism.
Other documentaries on the academy’s 15-film shortlist include “Jane,” about wildlife biologist Jane Goodall; “Icarus,” which explores secret Russian doping, and “Last Men in Aleppo,” about rescue workers in the Syrian civil war.