Oscars Shortlist: 15 Documentary Features Shortlisted for 90th Academy Awards

Nothing out of the ordinary here, with plenty of different topics to choose from. Only one real music documentary in “Long Strange Trip,” so that might end up breaking through just because of the difference in subject matter and seeing as the music docs have been known to win it all, i.e. “Searching For Sugar Man” and “20 Feet From Stardom.” There’s some particularly timely documentaries this year, including two Global Warming films in “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power” and “Chasing Coral” as well as a documentary about the enormous displacement of refugees around the world with “Human Flow.” Even “Abacus: Small Enough To Jail” covers the financial crisis aftermath. “City Of Ghosts,” at least from the description, sounds like the most unique and intriguing, containing life and death situations of documenting ISIS. And “Faces Places” has been popping up at with wins at the Critics Awards so far this year, so that might track with some attention. Notably missing is the Netflix documentaries “Jim And Andy: The Great Beyond,” “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson,” “Gaga: Five Foot Tw0,” and “Casting JonBenet,” which I wonder if they got the requisite theater showings in L.A. Also missing is “Whose Streets?” a documentary about the Ferguson uprising as told by the people who lived it,  “Brimstone & Glory,” an artsy film that had some tiny traction early on, “Joshua: Teenager Vs. Superpower,” and another Netflix original telling the story of a teen facing off against the Chinese Communist Party.

  • “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” – Mitten Media, Motto Pictures, Kartemquin Educational Films and WGBH/FRONTLINE
  • “Chasing Coral” – Exposure Labs in partnership with The Ocean Agency & View Into the Blue in association with Argent Pictures & The Kendeda Fund
  • “City of Ghosts” – Our Time Projects and Jigsaw Productions
  • “Ex Libris – The New York Public Library” – Ex Libris Films
  • “Faces Places” – Ciné Tamaris
  • “Human Flow” – Participant Media and AC Films
  • “Icarus” – Netflix Documentary in association with Impact Partners, Diamond Docs, Chicago Media Project and Alex Productions
  • “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” – Paramount Pictures and Participant Media
  • “Jane” – National Geographic Studios in association with Public Road Productions
  • “LA 92″ – Lightbox
  • “Last Men in Aleppo” – Larm Film
  • “Long Strange Trip” – Double E Pictures, AOMA Sunshine Films and Sikelia
  • “One of Us” – Loki Films
  • “Strong Island” – Yanceville Films and Louverture Films
  • “Unrest” – Shella Films and Little by Little Films

NOMINATION PREDICTIONS

  1. “Jane” (to me, especially with the year we’ve had, this is the strongest contender, following the life of Jane Goodall through her developing study of apes)
  2. “Faces Places” (this has been winning some critics awards… it really just depends if the critics and the Academy are on similar pages)
  3. “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power” (Al Gore’s follow-up to “An Inconvenient Truth,” the timeliness of this will likely get it recognized)
  4. “City Of Ghosts” (if this doesn’t get nominated, I will be disappointed as it’s about Syrian rebels risking their lives to document the atrocities committed by ISIS in their homeland)
  5. “LA 92” (documentary filled with mostly archival footage following the Rodney King trial in L.A.)

Strong Contenders

  • “Human Flow” (Ai Weiwei’s documentary about the refugee problem around the world)
  • “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” (about the tiny family-run bank that was the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis)
  • “Chasing Coral” (a Netflix documentary about our dying coral reefs… this could possibly replace “An Inconvenient Sequel”)
  • “Icarus” (a documentary about doping in Russian professional sport)
  • “Last Men In Aleppo” (seeing as the short last year titled “The White Helmets,” this feature documentary about the same volunteer group could easily grab a nomination)

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