Here they are! This year’s Academy Award nominees for Documentary Feature and Documentary Short Subject:

Documentary Feature

  • “Amy”
  • “Cartel Land”
  • “The Look of Silence”
  • “What Happened, Miss Simone?”
  • “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”

Documentary Short Subject

  • “Body Team 12”
  • “Chau, beyond the lines”
  • “Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah”
  • “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”
  • “Last Day of Freedom”

Are you surprised? Were your predictions right? There were a few highly regarded films in the press this year that didn’t make the cut: “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” “Where to Invade Next,” and “Listen to Me Marlon.” Even though my own picks for Documentary Feature were off by two, I’m pleased and surprised by the academy’s selections because with the amount of attention that the disregarded films had received the category could have easily featured 5 shoo-in picks by the most well-known directors or films that received only the most media attention. Instead, the category feels diverse but balanced.

It’s also refreshing that this year’s selections include first time nominations for a few of the films’ directors and producers: Evgeny Afineevsky and Den Tolmor for “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom,” Matthew Heineman and Tom Yellin for “Cartel Land,” and Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees for “Amy.” Comparing the picks to the UK’s BAFTA nominations, only “Amy” and “Cartel Land” received both. “Amy,” of course, is the audience favorite. However, given the strength and diversity of each of the films in this category, I think they all stand an equally strong chance of winning.

The category of Documentary Short Subject is arguably one of the toughest Oscar categories to decide. All of the films that made the original shortlist have powerful subject matters. I’m eager to see the 5 films that the academy chose. Three of them will be appearing on HBO this spring: “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” (March 7th), “Body Team 12” (March 14th), and “Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah” (May 2nd). All 5 nominated films will also be playing in select theaters beginning Jan. 29th.

The accessibility that viewers have to many of this year’s nominated documentaries is worthy of applause. You can catch a number of the films on Netflix right now including: “What Happened, Miss Simone?,” “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom,” “Chau, beyond the lines,” and “Last Day of Freedom.” While other films like “Amy,” “Cartel Land,” and “The Look of Silence” are available on Amazon, iTunes, and select cable providers that offer VOD.

The 88th Academy Awards will be broadcast February 28th on ABC.

Let me know your thoughts on this year’s nominees and which films you’d like to see featured on the site in the coming weeks!