Last Year’s Winner: “Making a Murderer”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: “American Masters” has been nominated 10 years in a row and won five times.
Fun Fact: Outside of “American Masters,” only one other program has been nominated more than once: “American Experience.”
It’s been 11 years since the TV Academy honored “Planet Earth” with its top nonfiction honor (plus three more awards), but we doubt they’ve cooled on the gorgeous, addictive BBC series. So we’re expected the sequel, “Planet Earth II,” to do well come nomination day. But it’s not the only contender with big ambitions at the Emmys. “American Masters” is the most dominant series in the history of this category, and Netflix has a number of offerings that could make a run.
“The Keepers” is the would-be successor to “Making a Murderer,” which won last year. The docu-series has been building comparatively moderate buzz, but it’s been attracting high praise throughout its brief release. It could be even more well-known come September.
The streaming giant also has “Five Came Back,” though. Sporting legendary filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, and Paul Greengrass, the three-hour miniseries tells the story of five film directors who served in the trenches and behind the camera during World War II. Those names — plus Meryl Streep as the narrator — might be too influential to resist (not that the series itself doesn’t deserve a nod).
But that’s not all: “Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On” marks the third major contender from Netflix, and Rashida Jones’ producing project could sway voters with its intimate subject matter and informative storytelling. Meanwhile, “Chef’s Table” earned a slot last year and is looking to repeat (and win) in 2017. However, these Netflix series will have to beat out Showtime’s timely documentary, “The Circus,” which will either greatly benefit from or be irreparably harmed by our current political culture. Are voters ready to relive the 2016 election? We’ll find out.
In addition, there’s the criminal justice examination, “TIME: The Kalief Browder Story,” ESPN’s long-running sports docu-series “30 for 30,” and the odd story of Nat Geo’s “Mars.” Despite being focused on a fictional narrative about a speculative mission to Mars, the six-part series appealed to the TV Academy and was re-classified as a documentary or nonfiction series. The interview segments and thorough, fact-based research must have really put it over the top.
Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series (in alphabetical order), which will be updated throughout the awards season. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2017 race, and read the rest of the predictions in all categories, as well.
- “American Masters”
- “Chef’s Table”
- “The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth”
- “The Keepers”
- “Planet Earth II”
Spoilers: “Five Came Back,” “TIME: The Kalief Browder Story”
In a Perfect World: “30 for 30,” “Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On”