As we continue our annual Academy Awards prediction series, we turn to Best Documentary Feature. This year’s slate of nominees include two Netflix documentaries, a PBS film, a National Geographic film, and a film distributed by Neon.
With the notable absence of presumed front-runner Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Best Documentary is suddenly up in the air. What film will rise to take its place as the “Best Documentary” of 2018?
The ease of predicting the Oscar race for Best Documentary comes down to the category already being narrowed down to a shortlist. The contenders are already limited to 15 films. Of those 15, though, there are clear frontrunners.
The Best Documentary race appears to be one of the most cut and dry of the year, but there are one or two contenders on the outside of the top five that are strong enough to get in.
The Best Documentary category features one of the more prominent snubs of the 2018 Oscar nominations. The arguable front-runner in the category, Jane, did not appear in the final five (I disputed this front-runner status in favor of Agnes Varda’s Faces Places, but I in no way foresaw Jane not even earning a nomination).
With that film out of the running—as well as other notable docs like City of Ghosts not showing up—the conversation around the Best Documentary category has changed drastically. So let’s have that conversation!
Best Documentary has been narrowed to a shortlist of 15 films. Raises my chances of not screwing this up, right?
I am fascinated by the 2017 Academy Award Best Documentary race. In a normal year, a film like 13th would be the clear favorite. It is adherent to the talking-head documentary formula will having important and informative subject matter.
But then there’s ESPN…
Best Documentary Film:
I have always grappled with reviewing documentaries. The cinematic elements are often time more muted than in fiction films, although there are exceptions to this of course. Documentaries are defined by formula. It is nice, then, to see documentaries that go above and beyond the simple formula.
Here are my picks for the Best Documentary nominations.