Director: Jeffrey Blitz

Suspense dominates Spellbound, a documentary that, on paper, could've been voted "Least Likely to Hold Anyone's Attention." After all, it's about a bunch of kids vying to win the Scripss Howard National Spelling Bee—meaning, at first glance, director Jeffrey Blitz's film is about eight kids putting letters together and forming words. But in actuality, Spellbound is so much more than that. It's a story of determination, a character-driven ensemble piece that spans across the nation and turns little kids into dramatic heavyweights. And the tension is paramount. Can you spell "astounding"? —MB