Oscar Documentary Feature Shortlist: Netflix Makes Impressive Showing As Academy Trims Contenders to 15
Streaming platform's American Factory and Knock Down the House in the mix, along with non-Netflix contenders For Sama, Apollo 11, Honeyland and more
Netflix only landed one film on the Oscar Documentary Feature shortlist last year--Sandi Tan's Shirkers--but the streamer came roaring back this year with four titles making the cut.
It also landed four documentaries on the Oscar Documentary Short shortlist.
The Netflix titles still in the running for best feature include American Factory, directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert and executive-produced by Higher Ground Productions, the company owned by former President Obama and Michelle Obama. It focuses on the fraught effort of a Chinese auto glass giant to set up operations in an old GM plant in Dayton, Ohio.
It was a hard place to work. But at the same time those jobs were much needed and a lot of people were very grateful. Even though as hot as hell as it was [in the factory] and even though the pay was 12 bucks an hour at that time, people were grateful to have those jobs.
Three political-themed documentaries from Netflix--Knock Down the House, The Edge of Democracy, and The Great Hack--also made the feature shortlist. KDTH, directed by Rachel Lears, focuses on four Democratic insurgent candidates, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who set out to dethrone entrenched incumbents in the 2018 primaries.
The Edge of Democracy, directed by Brazilian filmmaker Petra Costa, tells the story of her home country where the rise of right-wing populism has, in Costa's view, set the stage for a return to authoritarian rule.
The Great Hack explores how data collected by Facebook and weaponized by Cambridge Analytica impacted the 2016 presidential election that put Donald Trump into office. Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim (The Square) directed the film.
This is the list of the 15 films to make the Oscar Documentary Feature shortlist. Keep reading below for more information on the shortlisted films and links to our pieces on many of them.
Advocate, directed by Philippe Bellaiche and Rachel Leah Jones
American Factory, directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
The Apollo, directed by Roger Ross Williams
Apollo 11, directed by Todd Douglas Miller
Aquarela, directed by Viktor Kosakovskiy
The Biggest Little Farm, directed by John Chester
The Cave, directed by Feras Fayyad
The Edge of Democracy, directed by Petra Costa
For Sama, directed by Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts
The Great Hack, directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim
Honeyland, directed by Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska
Knock Down the House, directed by Rachel Lears
Maiden, directed by Alex Holmes
Midnight Family, directed by Luke Lorentzen
One Child Nation, directed by Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.