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Documentary Oscar Race Narrows to 14 Films (Plus 1 Mini-Series)

Oscar has winnowed down that massive Best Documentary Semi-Finals list to a more manageable fifteen. We've reviewed just over two thirds of them. Nine are currently available to stream online (handy links provided) and four are in select theaters. The finalists for the five nominations are...

What's missing? Well, what isn't. There are always scads of depressing omissions. Let us focus our tears on the delicious Sondheim retrospective reflection about "Merrily We Roll Along" The Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened which really deserves a big audience. But all told this list is not surprising finals list. In fact I am quite shocked to tell you that in my Top 20 Most Likely To Oscar chart page (being revised at the moment) I missed only two of these fifteen (Command and Control and The Witness) in favor of films like Newtown and Miss Sharon Jones

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Reader Comments (19)

Additional viewing options: OJ is available on Hulu, and Zero Days is on Showtime on Demand.

December 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I am actually OK with these. (I made my peace with IN TRANSIT not being up for consideration a while ago.) As long as LIFE, ANIMATED got in this list, I was going to be happy. Also good to see quality like CAMERAPERSON, FIRE AT SEA, 13TH and ZERO DAYS also get in.

December 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTravis C

I Am Not Your Negro and Cameraperson must get nominated, please.

December 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaby

Chuffed with myself that I correctly predicted 11 of this final 15. I'm most disappointed at the absense of Herzog's INTO THE INFERNO and Dawn Porter's TRAPPED, but I am *thrilled* by Kristen Johnston's CAMERAPERSON, the best film of the year that I've seen so far period, and stuff like TOWER and ZERO DAYS.

If I had to predict what the final nominees would be I'd guess: Fire at Sea, I Am Not Your Negro, 13th, Weiner, Zero Days.

December 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

Aussies, OJ has been playing on SBS. You can watch it on SBS On Demand.

December 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEz

Where's the Nick Cave documentary? Why isn't elligible? Answers, please.

December 6, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterchofer

When will podcast be up?

December 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterThomas5

Cameraperson is the best film of the year. Nothing else is even close.

December 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMark


What an amazing list.

Looking forward to the podcast to be posted :)

December 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMartha

Command and Control. This should be required viewing in public schools. Too bad we are entering a coupon voucher era.

December 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMinerva

Happy to see so much love for CAMERAPERSON. Much deserved, obviously.

Chofer, it wasn't on the long-list likely because it was a "one night only" event film and so wasn't submitted.

December 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks


I understand, but isn't OJ MiA a series? What's the criteria, I mean.

December 7, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterchofer

Chofer, we've gone over this a few times - it's basically ESPN manipulating a loophole that permits anything to be submitted (and it must be *submitted*, which is why there are often odd exclusions every year from the very long list despite them getting released) if it's had a seven-day release in LA/NY. ESPN did that and despite being a made-for-TV miniseries is now eligible for Oscar. It's stupid and offensive.

December 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

I really loved the OJ series and I hope it sweeps the Emmys. But it is NOT a movie and the shameless manipulation of getting it eligible for the Oscars is so transparent it calls for action. I would simply suggest that a documentary can only be eligible for an Oscar or an Emmy and the filmmakes must declare which. Eligibility for one should automatically bar eligibility in the other. The Academy has a lot more intricate and arcane rules than this.

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