Watch the Oscar-nominated Documentaries!
By Pat Mullen
Want an edge over your friends in the Oscar pool this year? While the documentary shorts have traditionally been the most elusive films to catch among the contenders, and have mostly been available only to audiences fortunate enough to catch them on the festival circuit, the recent explosion of opportunities for distribution make the short docs more readily available than ever. Many of this year’s nominees may be watched online for free. They reflect the changing landscape of documentary production and distribution with outlets like The Guardian and The New Yorker landing short docs among the nominees with Black Sheep and Lifeboat, respectively. Previous years have also yielded contenders from The New York Times Op Docs. (Read our review of the Oscar short docs here.)
The docs also feature streaming giant Netflix, which had a good day with short End Game among the nominees while the Coen Brothers’ comedy The Ballad of Buster Scruggs scored four surprise nominations and Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma got the platform its first Best Picture nomination. (Netflix didn’t land a feature doc nominee, but its shortlisted title Shirkers was not widely expected to be among the final five.) Hulu has a contender in Minding the Gap, while two of the year’s feature nominees, RBG and Of Fathers and Sons, may be streamed through online library services Hoopla and Kanopy, which have really improved the reach for docs and indies.
We’ve rounded up as many of the documentaries that may be streamed for free, along with some details about where to see the other films.
Black Sheep – Ed Perkins and Jonathan Chinn
End Game – Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
-Available on Netflix
Lifeboat – Skye Fitzgerald and Bryn Mooser
A Night at the Garden – Marshall Curry
Period. End of Sentence. – Rayka Zehtabchi and Melissa Berton
-Now available on Netflix
Feature Docs Nominees:
-Check the POV blog for weekly updates on screenings near you.
Free Solo – Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Evan Hayes and Shannon Dill
-Now playing in limited release.
Minding the Gap – Bing Liu and Diane Quon
-Now playing in limited release, TIFF Next Wave (Feb. 17), Hulu (USA)