15 Feature Docs and 10 Shorts Advance in Oscar Race

Honeyland made the Oscar shortlists for Best Documentary Feature and Best International Feature
Photo: Ljubo Stefanov

By Pat Mullen

Fifteen feature documentaries are a step closer to Oscar gold. The Academy unveiled the shortlist for Best Documentary Feature and all the frontrunners are still in contention. Early consensus puts American Factory, Apollo 11, The Cave, For Sama, Honeyland_, and One Child Nation in a tight race for the final five slots, although it’s anyone’s game. The doc branch often favours the underdogs instead of films that have already enjoyed wide success. (Recall the snubs for presumed frontrunners Jane and Won’t You Be My Neighbor?.) It’s still an open race on the documentary front.

There are no major omissions inthe 15-film shortlist. One might have expected Lauren Greenfield’s festival favourite The Kingmaker to have made an appearance, but overall the Academy yielded few surprises today. The list largely reflects the industry and critical consensus for a strong year in documentary.

It was also a very good day for Honeyland, which advanced in the race for Best International Feature as well. The film made the 10-film shortlist as North Macedonia’s submission. Doc nominees in the category are extremely rare, although Rithy Panh’s The Missing Picture made the final cut five years ago.

The Oscar shortlists for feature documentary and documentary short subject are:

Best Documentary Feature

American Factory
The Apollo
Apollo 11
The Biggest Little Farm
The Cave
The Edge of Democracy
For Sama
The Great Hack
Knock Down the House
Midnight Family
One Child Nation

Documentary Short Subject

After Maria
Fire in Paradise
Ghosts of Sugar Land
In the Absence
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
Life Overtakes Me
The Nightcrawlers
St. Louis Superman
Stay Close
Walk Run Cha-Cha