Friday, March 12, 2021

Oscar Predictions: Best Documentary

This year, Oscar nominations will be announced on Monday, March 15th. I’ll be offering detailed predictions in all categories.

Last year’s nominees: American Factory, The Cave, The Edge of Democracy, For Sama, Honeyland

My choices: Coming soon!

This year’s locks: Collective, Boys State

Very likely: Crip Camp

Possible: The Mole Agent, Welcome to Chechnya, Time, MLK/FBI, Gunda, Dick Johnson is Dead, 76 Days, The Truffle Hunters, My Octopus Teacher, All In: The Fight for Democracy, Notturno, The Painter and the Thief

The rundown: This category has consistently featured shocking snubs each year, including “Apollo 11” and “One Child Nation” last year. I’m pretty sure we’re in for another one of those this year, especially because it feels so competitive and even the films I’ve ranked fourteenth and fifteenth seem distinctly possible. I managed to see fourteen of the finalists, and the one I haven’t, Gunda, seems to be truly beloved. I feel like both Collective and The Mole Agent get a bump from also making the Best International Feature shortlist, and I’m predicting them both to get in here and neither to score there. Boys State and Crip Camp seem like good bets, and I’m going with Welcome to Chechnya (read my interview here). That leaves no room for Time, which is one of the most acclaimed documentaries of the year, and it truly would be a bold and, for many, unforgivable omission. I think there are plenty of reasons to expect that MLK/FBI, Dick Johnson Is Dead, 76 Days, My Octopus Teacher, and All In: The Fight for Democracy might also make the cut. Before seeing this list, I would have pegged Notturno as a strong contender, and The Painter and the Thief doesn’t deserve a last-place mention since it is fascinating and worthwhile. I wholly expect to be completely wrong here, but these are my best guesses.

Forecasted winner: I think this goes to Collective, but I’m not at all confident in that.

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