Hollywood Contenders – Looking at potential Best Documentary Feature contenders

Ahoy there folks! For what is one of my final installments in the annual category/contender rundown, I’m beginning to finish things up by moving on from the big eight categories. Yes, I’m taking a look now at one of the in betweens, or as I call them, the “mini-majors”. That’s where the focus will now be. 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. 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. Additionally, I’ll make up my mind soon about if there’s another category getting this treatment after Foreign Language Feature next week. If not, I’ll be doubling back to the majors in the next month or two. For the moment though, check this piece out…

Here now are the five documentary films that I actually have currently cracking the unofficial lineup later on this year:

1. Jane – In a wide open field, look to this highly regarded contender to potentially emerge victorious. Between the score by Phillip Glass and the inherent fascinating nature of Jane Goodall, this has a ton to offer. It’s hard to know which film leads the pack right now, but this feels to me like the one to beat at the moment. Goodall makes this a crowd pleaser. Don’t you dare discount this one, as it strikes me right now as the eventual Best Documentary Feature winner.

2. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power – Could a documentary sequel take this category? Ever since the Sundance Film Festival, Al Gore’s second crack at saving the world has been gaining fans. It hasn’t broken through to the mainstream like An Inconvenient Truth, but the name recognition is there. As long as it doesn’t seem too repetitive to the Academy, you have to expect this one will be in the race until the very end.

3. Risk – Another possible frontrunner is this look at Julian Assange. Oscar voters who remember that filmmaker Laura Poitras’ last project was Citizenfour, on Edward Snowden, may return to her for this one and give her another statue to add to the collection. The subject matter is less savory, which might hurt, but if it gets nominated, it can’t be counted out…

4. Chasing Coral – If the environment is what captures voters’ attentions, there’s a chance that this Sundance alum gets the glory instead. It’ll have to fight to be remembered, which never helps, but it’s exactly the sort of thing that usually gets into the lineup when all is said and done. As such, placement here seems about right. Time will tell though, as it always does in this hard to predict category.

5. The Final Year – Finally, here’s a curveball to consider. In a group that could easily include something like City of Ghosts, Cries from Syria, Icarus, Kedi, or Last Men in Aleppo, this could end up really catching on. A look from the inside at the last year of the Obama Administration, particularly in regards to the main foreign policy players, it’s absolutely riveting stuff. Considering how the election turned out, it takes on a whole new light. Sleep on this one at your own risk!

Next in line I’d have these ten contenders (just sans my own personal commentary here) for Best Documentary Feature:

6. Cries from Syria
7. Icarus
8. Kedi
9. Last Men in Aleppo
10. City of Ghosts
11. Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press
12. Human Flow
13. 11/8/16
14. Strong Island
15. Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – With a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton

And here’s another small group to give you 30 contenders in total right now:

16. Step
17. I Called Him Morgan
18. The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography
19. Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold
20. Nowhere to Hide
21. Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
22. Voyeur
23. A River Below
24. Gilbert
25. The Rape of Recy Taylor
26. WASTED! The Story of Food Waste
27. The Reagan Show
28. 78/52
29. Get Me Roger Stone
30. Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives

Stay tuned for more ladies and gentlemen, as I’ll be looking at Best Foreign Language Feature to wrap this up next week!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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