Friday, January 10, 2020

Oscar Predictions: Best Documentary

This year, Oscar nominations will be announced on Monday, January 13th. I’ll be offering detailed predictions in most of the major categories.

Last year’s nominees: Free Solo, Hale County This Morning, This Evening, Minding the Gap, Of Fathers and Sons, RBG

My choices: Coming next week!

This year’s locks:

Very likely: RBG, Free Solo

Possible: The Silence of Others, Of Fathers and Sons, Hale County This Morning, This Evening, Shirkers, Dark Money, Minding the Gap, On Her Shoulders, Crime + Punishment

Unlikely: Charm City, The Distant Barking of Dogs, Communion

The rundown: Last year, this category featured two shocking high-profile snubs. This year, the field feels even more competitive. I’ve managed to see all fifteen finalists, and it’s hard to decide which ones seem like the strongest bets. Six features were cited by both the International Documentary Association and the Producers Guild of America: American Factory, Apollo 11, For Sama, Honeyland (which is also an International Feature finalist representing North Macedonia), One Child Nation, and Advocate. I’m doubting the chances for the last of that bunch since it’s a much smaller-scale focus on an Israeli lawyer representing Palestinian clients, but it’s come this far, so maybe it will do better than I’d expect. The PGA also picked The Cave, but I’m not sure there’s room for two Syria-set films this year. IDA cited Midnight Family, The Biggest Little Farm, and The Edge of Democracy, which I feel weird ranking so low since it is very good and might attract a good number of votes. The same goes for two other Netflix docs, The Great Hack and Knock Down the House, and contenders The Apollo and Maiden. I’d be very surprised if Aquarela, a documentary about water, made the cut. I feel like there are so many films that could make the list here, and I wouldn’t be shocked if I did poorly despite having seen all of these titles.

Forecasted winner: I see For Sama eclipsing “American Factory” to take this.

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