Ahoy there folks! For what will be my final installment in the annual category/contender rundown, I’m going to finish things up by moving on from the big eight categories, as you might have guessed. Yes, I’m taking a look now at another one of the in betweens, or as I call them, the “mini-majors”. That’s where the focus will be today. This time out, that happens to be the rarely boring and highly unpredictable Best Documentary Feature race. Obviously, this is a rather hard one to pin down early on, or really ever, but as always, I’m feeling more than up for the challenge. Especially in terms of the quality this year in Documentary Feature, it’s really an embarrassment of riches. Take a gander below and obviously keep in mind that this one also will be more fluid than normal going forward, as lots is still to be decided. Here we go. This will be a fun one…
Here now are the five documentary films that I actually have currently cracking the unofficial lineup later on this year:
1. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – In one of the best and most competitive fields in years, the top slot currently belongs to Morgan Neville’s look at the life of Fred Rogers. Best Documentary Feature going to a biopic of Mr. Rogers? Believe it. This is a really close race right now, but if there’s a slight favorite here in November, it’s this one. The precursors will be essential, one way or another.
2. Three Identical Strangers – I’d be shocked if this doc wasn’t nominated. It’s as much a mystery as a character study, and could easily be the main competition in Documentary Feature. Tim Wardle’s doc, along with many of these mentioned here, has made some strong box office money too, which can’t hurt. Don’t sleep on this one, as it could really end up surprising…
3. Minding the Gap – Slowly but surely, this small film is becoming a likelier and likelier title to score a nod. Bing Liu’s movie has snuck up on the race, likely in advance of scoring some huge critical awards soon. If so, the doc may well see some potential as an upset pick. I’m not there yet, but would anything surprise you this year?
4. RBG – Seemingly very safe for a nom is this look at the Notorious RBG, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West made a real crowd pleaser, at least for those of us on the left. The Academy likely feels similarly, so if as many Oscar voters as expected flock to this one, a nomination should happen with ease. Will it be too light to compete for the win? Stay tuned to find out!
5. Free Solo – You can never count out Michael Moore, so Fahrenheit 11/9 remains in play, as does something a little more esoteric like Maria by Callas or They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead. Still, for this final spot, I think Free Solo is in a good position. Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi have crafted something with a bit of a following already. Discount it at your own peril…
Next in line I’d have these ten contenders (just sans my own personal commentary here) for Best Documentary Feature:
6. Fahrenheit 11/9
7. Maria by Callas
9. The King
10. They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead
11. The Final Year
12. Love Gilda
13. The Sentence
14. Generation Wealth
15. Jane Fonda in Five Acts
And here’s another small group to give you 30 contenders in total right now:
16. Dark Money
17. Science Fair
18. Reversing Roe
20. Pope Francis: A Man of His Word
22. The Bleeding Edge
23. Monrovia, Indiana
24. Inventing Tomorrow
25. Weed the People
27. Of Fathers and Sons
28. Eating Animals
30. The Last Race
Stay tuned to see how it all turns out in Best Documentary Feature!