2023 Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special

2023 Emmys contenders for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special include films that had Oscar runs, and various cinematic portraits of icons, that played well at recent film festivals.
A still from Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute
"Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie"

We will update this article throughout the season, along with all our predictions, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2023 Emmys race. The nomination round of voting takes place from June 15 to June 26, with the official Emmy nominations announced Wednesday, July 12. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be presented over two consecutive nights on Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10, with an edited presentation of the ceremonies to be broadcast on FXX at a later date. Finally, the 75th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards take place on Monday, September 18, and air live on FOX at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

The State of the Race

In an Emmys year that has seen plenty of interesting updates to eligibility rules, one gamechanger affecting the Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special category is the re-introduction of projects that were also Oscar contenders. As of this February, the new rules dictate that if a 2022 documentary did not ultimately receive an Oscar nomination, it can compete in this year’s Emmys (as long as it also fits inside the June 1, 2022 to May 31, 2023 release window as well).

There are still some stipulations, like how many screens a film played during its theatrical run, that bar awards contenders like Amazon Prime Video’s “Good Night Oppy” from being eligible, but “Last Flight Home,” the MTV Entertainment Studios production that made the 2023 Oscars shortlist for Best Documentary Feature Film, is already having an FYC event soon.

There are quite few portraits of iconic figures in the running this year, many of them having premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. While Apple TV+ is putting its weight behind “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie,” Hulu will promote “Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields” as one of its Documentary Specials that should be on voters’ radars. There are also “Sidney” (Apple TV+) and “‘Sr.’” (Netflix), which premiered at the fall film festivals, and Netflix’s “Pamela: A Love Story,” from Ryan White, who also directed the aforementioned “Good Night Oppy,” which was a big success for the streaming service upon its January release.

Time will tell what other films that had Oscar runs or festival premieres will enter the Emmy race, but there are still plenty of projects that have had more traditional TV runs that are still competitive. For example, “Sin Eater: The Crimes of Anthony Pellicano,” from the FX series “The New York Times Presents,” is likely to have caught the attention of voters after the success of the same program’s two episodes on Britney Spears, which are credited with helping the popstar become free of her conservatorship.

Current Contenders (In Alphabetical Order):
“A Tree of Life: The Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting” (HBO)
“Call Me Miss Cleo” (HBO Max)
“If These Walls Could Sing” (Disney+)
“Judy Blume Forever” (Amazon Prime Video)
“Katrina Babies” (HBO)
“Last Flight Home” (Paramount+)
“Pamela: A Love Story” (Netflix)
“Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields” (Hulu)
“The Sound of 007” (Amazon Prime Video)
“Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me” (Apple TV+)
“Sidney” (Apple TV+)
“Sin Eater: The Crimes of Anthony Pellicano” (FX)
“‘Sr.’” (Netflix)
“Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie” (Apple TV+)
“We Met in Virtual Reality” (HBO)

More Category Predictions:
Outstanding Animated Program
Outstanding Talk Series
Outstanding Scripted Variety Series
Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series

To see IndieWire’s full set of predictions for the 75th Emmy Awards click here.

Last Year’s Winner: “George Carlin’s American Dream”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: Judd Apatow’s George Carlin documentary started what could be a new winning streak for HBO in the category (the last one was from 2018 through 2020). This year, the premium cable network has several projects that were already recognized by Oscar precursors, like “A Tree of Life: The Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting,” and is premiering even more promising contenders as the end of the eligibility window nears.
Notable Ineligible Series: “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” (ineligible as a 2023 Oscar nominee); “All That Breathes” (ineligible as a 2023 Oscar nominee); “Fire of Love” (ineligible as a 2023 Oscar nominee)

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.