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2016 Oscar Predictions: Best Documentary Feature

2016 Oscar Predictions: Best Documentary Feature

READ MORE: Indiewire Awards Season Spotlight 

For the past three years, the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature has gone to… the film everyone thought it was going to go to. “Searching For Sugar Man,” “20 Feet From Stardom” and “Citizenfour” each claimed frontrunner status by early on, and kept said status all the way to the Oscar stage.  Is “Amy” this year’s version of that? It certainly seems so, especially since it’s the most awarded documentary of the year by a mile.

Below is Anne Thompson’s take on how things might shake down in the race for best documentary. Check out Thompson on Hollywood’s Oscar predictions page for more awards season analysis. Click here for more category breakdowns on Indiewire.

“Amy” (Asif Kapadia)
“Cartel Land” (Matthew Heineman) 
“The Look of Silence” (Joshua Oppenheimer)
“What Happened, Miss Simone?” (Liz Garbus)
“Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” (Evgeny Afineevsky)

Predicted Winner: “Amy”
Potential Spoiler: “The Look of Silence”


For more insight into the 2016 awards season, visit the Indiewire Awards Season Spotlight homepage here.

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I don’t like Winter on fire it’s very simple, just take camera and go through fire …. I am more about Amy


winter on fire should win! Amazing!!!


Before Amy, there was a Nina and this docu needs to be recognised!!!

Vivian Pyle

"What Happened, Miss Simone" is SO much better a film than "Amy." The music is fabulous, the personal story just as intriguing, and the social /historical context so incredibly compelling.


Amy was great—but c’mon, Cartel and Winter are FAR more important and better films.


Wait a minute. "What Happened Miss Simone" definitely deserves the Oscar. And furthermore it’s about a wonderful Black singer. Vote for Nina Simone!!


I hope The Look of Silence will win.


Amy is essentially a doc about a drug addict…boring – what’s unique about that? A few good parts in it but at best it’s mediocre. I fell asleep as well as when watching Look of Silence. I loved Cartel Land – how ballsy is that footage vs cliche archival music doc. No comparison. I also really enjoyed The Wolfpack – really great, too bad it got snubbed.


Kingdom Of Shadows is the intelligent drug traffic documentary. Cartel Land is all ego and Hollywood dollars. P.S. Tim Foley (Cartel Land poster boy)lied about his military past. Can you spell AWOL?


It was inexplicably left off the short list. Awful.

Chris X5150

The Wolfpack was amazing and gripping. It was an early favorite after winning the Best Documentary at Sundance and 4 other wins. Not sure why it is not a favorite here.


The most original and memorable documentary feature for me was Approaching The Elephant.


@Leopold. Well sure there are definitely politics involved, and are you gonna say that The Departed was not the best film that year? Obviously everything is subjective but of the best picture Noms that year Departed and Scorsese were most deserving because it was the best fIlm. I think Goodfellas is his best film, and certainly he was robbed. Politics do exist and I’m not saying the debt concept doesn’t exist, though I think it doesn’t happen as often as you think it does.


The Wolfpack deserves more cred.


@Ridley, I don’t like this "debt" concept in the academy either, but it does exist. You’d be a fool to disregard the concept. Just look at which film Scorsese finally won his Oscar for. The best film should always win, but this is the Oscars. There is more politics in play here than in the actual presidential elections. Don’t be fooled by the glamour.


@Leopold let me start by saying I agree with you, The Look of Silence is fantastic and my favorite on the shortlist. However, i dont buy this notion people seem to have about how the academy "owes" someone something. Shouldn’t the best film win? Oppenheimer has definitley crafted to best doc of the year, but if he wins it will be because it is the best documentary, not because the academy owes him a debt.


The True Cost is a really well-done documentary from this year.


If Look of Silence doesn’t win, there is just no merit to this award anymore. After the scandalous lost for The Act of Killing against the incredibly ordinary 20 Feet from Stardom, Oppenheimer is owed quite a bit from the Academy, and whether The Look of Silence is the best doc or not (though it definitely is), Oppenheimer must get it out of sheer debt.


the wolfpack was much, much better than any of these, including Amy- which was great dont get me wrong.




I am missing Racing Extinction


Cobain: Montage of Heck is a freacking masterpiece


Can’t believe the Wolfpack was left off the short list! I loved that doc. Just saw the Hunting Ground and thought it was okay. Amy is good as is Cartel Land. The Look of Silence is really great too. Lots of good docs this year


anyone know why the doc branch makes the "shortlist" so long? Why not cut it to 9 a la the foreign language committee? At least that way 6 more films that don’t have a chance of being nominated… don’t have to spend untold sums of money campaigning.


I think "I am Big Bird" belongs on the third tier


If Going Clear can get the nomination it will win. It is the best know doc of the year with the most crossover press, page 6 and US weekly etc. you have to think about who votes on the oscars- hint, it is not indiewire readers


Tyke: Elephant Outlaw may have an outside shot at a nomination


Racing Extinction should be at the top of the list. Are you kidding me Indiewire?


What about Kino Lorber’s astonishing "Of Men and War?" The film was released in NY on Friday to stellar reviews from The NY Times, The Village Voice and stands at 100% on RT. The film will be getting a wide release starting this Friday with it’s Oscar qualifying run in LA. The film, with it’s hugely topical subject matter and superb filmmaking a huge bet for an Oscar Nod, possibly the gold.


Only The Dead should be on this list.


I’m really looking forward to Where to Invade Next. But my current guesses in this category would be Amy, The Hunting Ground, The Look of Silence, The Wolfpack and Where to Invade Next. I haven’t seen Amy. But I have seen Look of silence, cartel land and the Wolfpack. All great docs.


The Hunting Ground was one of the most haunting and informative documentaries i have seen in the last years and i believe that it deserves to be nominated.


Cartel Land is amazing.


The Look of Silence is brilliant and hopefully it will be rewarded.


I quite enjoyed the Wolfpack. Incredibly interesting story


My Predictions are
Brave Heart: Lizzie Velasquez Story
Cartel Land
He Named Me Malala
The Wolfpack

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