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Oscars’ Crowded Documentary Race Nears a Record: See the Complete List of Films So Far

Voters have received 139 screeners from the Academy to date, including 90 in September alone


In September, members of the Academy’s Documentary Branch got an overwhelming homework assignment: DVD screeners of 90 different non-fiction films.

That works out to four and a half hours a day of movie viewing, seven days a week, all month long.

Mind you, nobody in the branch is actually expected to watch all of those films before voting in the Oscars’ Best Documentary Feature category. Instead, each person was randomly assigned 15-20 of those films as required viewing so that every film will be viewed by a chunk of the branch, which consists of more than 250 members.

The deluge of fall screeners isn’t completely unprecedented: Last year, the September shipment of DVD screeners consisted of 61 films.

But last year, a total of 124 films qualified — and September’s group of 90 has already pushed this year’s crop of qualifying films to 139, with one more batch of screeners due before voting begins. The record for qualifying documentaries was set in 2013, when 151 films qualified. Typically, the final package of Oscar documentary screeners is a small one, so this year’s final count might set a new record, or might fall short.

Earlier shipments to doc-branch voters consisted of 14 films in June and July, and 21 in August.

The Academy is expected to release the official list of qualifying docs in late October.

Voters are asked to watch their assigned films, but they are also permitted to see anything else on the list of qualifying films. The top 15 vote-getters will appear on a shortlist that will be revealed in December, with a second round of voting picking the five nominees.

The presumed Oscar documentary frontrunners at this point include films on the recent DOC-NYC shortlist, which usually predicts about two-thirds of the Oscar shortlist: “Amanda Knox,” “Cameraperson,” “Fire at Sea,” “Gleason,” “I Am Not Your Negro,” “Into the Inferno,” “Jim: The James Foley Story,” “Life, Animated,” “Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures,” “Miss Sharon Jones!,” “O.J.: Made in America,” “13th,” “The Ivory Game,” “Trapped” and “Weiner.”

Other potential contenders include “Newtown,” “Zero Days,” “Audrie & Daisy,” “Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War,” “Do Not Resist,” “The Eagle Huntress,” “Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You,” “Tower” and a number of music docs, among them “The Music of Strangers,” “Landfill Harmonic,” “Gimme Danger,” “We Are X” and “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years.”

Many of the films, notably including the ESPN miniseries “O.J.: Made in America,” have strong TV connections and will also compete for Emmys next year. One of the Oscar-qualifying films, “Kate Plays Christine,” is arguably a fictional film posing as a doc.

Here is the list of screeners sent to members in the Academy’s Documentary Branch so far, according to members of the branch:

“The Abolitionists”
“Abortion: Stories Women Tell”
“All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone”
“Almost Holy”
“Amanda Knox”
“Among the Believers”
“Anne Frank Then and Now”
“The Anthropologist”
“Apparition Hill”
“Art Bastard”
“The Ataxian”
“Audrie & Daisy”
“Author: The JT Leroy Story”
“The Bad Kids”
“Be Here Now”
“The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years”
“A Beautiful Planet”
“Beauty Bites Beast”
“Becoming Mike Nichols
“Behind Bayonets and Barbed Wire”
“Behind the Cove – The Quiet Japanese Speak Out!”
“Best and Most Beautiful Things”
“The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits”
“Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened”
“A Billion Lives”
“Black Women in Medicine”
“Blood on the Mountain”
“Boy 23: The Forgotten Boys of Brazil”
“The Brainwashing of My Dad”
“Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds
“By Sidney Lumet”
“The C Word”
“Citizen Soldier”
“City of Gold”
“Class Divide”
“Colliding Dreams”
“Command and Control”
“Danny Says”
“Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War”
“Disturbing the Peace”
“Do Not Resist”
“Don’t Blink – Robert Frank”
“The Eagle Huntress”
“Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words”
“Equal Means Equal”
“Eva Hesse”
“Everything is Copy – Nora Ephron: Scripted & Unscripted”
“A Family Affair”
“Finding Babel”
“The First Monday in May”
“Floyd Norman: An Animated Life”
“Fuocoammare” (“Fire at Sea”)
“Generation Startup”
“Gimme Danger”
“Harry & Snowman”
“Hate Rising With Jorge Ramos”
“Holy Hell”
“Hooligan Sparrow”
“How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change”
“I Am Not Your Negro”
“Indian Point”
“Into the Inferno”
“Iron Moon”
“Ivory. A Crime Story”
“The Ivory Game”
“Jim: The James Foley Story”
“Kate Plays Christine”
“Keepers of the Game
“Landfill Harmonic”
“The Last Man on the Moon”
“Life, Animated”
“Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World”
“Look at us now, Mother!”
“The Lovers and the Despot”
“Making a Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA”
“Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures”
“Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing”
“Marinoni: The First in the Frame”
Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise”
“Mifune: The Last Samurai”
“Miss Sharon Jones!”
“The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble”
“My Love, Don’t Cross That River”
“National Bird”
“National Parks Adventure”
Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You”
“Notes on Blindness”
“Off the Rails”
“OJ: Made in America”
“Older than Ireland”
“Olympic Pride, American Prejudice”
“On The Map”
“100 Years, One Woman’s Fight for Justice”
“Our Last Tango”
“Presenting Princess Shaw”
“The Red Pill”
“The Rolling Stones Olé Olé Olé!: A Trip Across Latin America”
“Rooted in Peace”
“The Ruins of Lifta”
“The Seventh Fire”
“Shadow World”
“Silicon Cowboys”
“Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang”
“Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four”
“Starving the Beast”
“The Syndrome”
“Thank You for Your Service”
“Theo Who Lived”
“They Will Have to Kill Us First – Malian Music in Exile”
“This is Life”
“Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru”
“The Trans List”
“Trezoros: The Lost Jews of Kastoria”
“Under the Gun”
“Under the Sun”
“Underfire: The Untold Story of Pfc. Tony Vaccaro”
“Unlocking the Cage”
“USS Indianapolis The Legacy”
“Vaxxed: From Cover Up to Catastrophe”
“We Are X”
“When Two Worlds Collide”
“The Witness”
“Zero Days”