As with many other categories, the announcement of the Oscar shortlists helped narrow down and shape predictions and Documentary Feature is no exception.
While there were a few eye-catching snubs (like Bryan Fogel’s The Dissident and Gotham Award winner A Thousand Cuts from Ramona Diaz) the lion’s share of expected films landed on the list. Between the Producers Guild (PGA), International Documentary Association (IDA), Critics’ Choice (BFCA) and Cinema Eye Honors (CEH) nominations and awards, we can see the race taking shape.
Garrett Bradley’s Time is the most honored documentary of the year, with LAFCA, NYFCC, NBR and NSFC among its many accolades. Can the film, which uses an ample amount of existing footage, break the pattern of critics’ favorites being snubbed by branch come nominating time? I think it can but it will be a real test this year. While we’ve become a bit inured to these snubs, this would be on the level of 1994’s Hoop Dreams.
Collective (Romania) and The Mole Agent (Chile) are both aiming to repeat what Honeyland (North Macedonia) did last year and be nominated in both this category and International Feature Film.
Here are my ranked 2021 Oscar predictions in Documentary Feature for February.
Green – moves up ↑; Red – moves down ↓; Blue – new entry this month +; Black – no change ↔
1. Collective ↑ (Magnolia / Participant) – BAFTA longlist, CEH, IDA
Alexander Nanau, Bernard Michaux, Hanka Kastelicová, Biana Oana
2. Time ↓ (Amazon Studios) – BFCA, CEH, Gotham, IDA, PGA
Garrett Bradley, Lauren Domino, Kellen Quinn
3. Welcome to Chechnya ↑ (HBO Documentary Films) – IDA
David France, Alice Henry, Askold Kurov, Joy A. Tomchin
4. Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution ↔ (Netflix) – BAFTA longlist, BFCA, IDA
James Lebrecht, Nicole Newnham, Sara Bolder Hittman
5. The Truffle Hunters (Sony Pictures Classics) – BAFTA longlist, IDA, PGA
Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw
6. Boys State ↓ (Apple) – CEH
Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss
7. 76 Days (MTV Documentary Films)
Weixi Chen, Hao Wu
8. Gunda ↑ (Neon) – BFCA, CEH IDA
Victor Kossakovsky, Anita Rehoff Larsen
9. Dick Johnson is Dead (Netflix)
– BFCA, PGA
Kirsten Johnson, Katy Chevigny, Marilyn Ness
10. All In: The Fight for Democracy ↓ (Amazon Studios)
Lisa Cortés, Liz Garbus, Stacey Abrams, Dan Cogan
11. The Mole Agent + (Gravitas)
Marcela Santibañez, Maite Alberdi
12. My Octopus Teacher (Netflix) – BFCA, PGA
Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed
13. The Painter and the Thief + (Neon) – BFCA
Ingvil Giske, Benjamin Reel
14. MLK/FBI (IFC Films)
15. Notturno + (SUPER LTD)