A few stars of the short film world are leading the 2023 Oscar contenders for best documentary short film.
We’ll be updating these predictions throughout awards season, so keep checking IndieWire for all of our 2023 Oscar picks. Final voting will take place March 2-7, 2023. And finally, the 95th Oscars show on Sunday, March 12 will air live on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT.
The state of the race
Although the shortlist has only just arrived, finding out about this year’s Best Documentary contenders is a lot easier than you might think. The newest player to really dominate this category is MTV Documentary Films, which produced three shortlisted films for this category. That’s thanks to the hiring of Sheila Nevins, the new head of MTV Documentary Films, who has produced countless award-winning projects during her long tenure at HBO.
All three projects are currently streaming on Paramount+, but for now the Paramount Global brand’s top contender is Tanaz Eshaghian’s “As Far as They Can Run,” a heartbreaking film about three disabled young adults recruiting for Special Olympics training in Pakistan become program. The Flagmakers, a Disney+ documentary co-directed by Sharon Liese and 2008 Oscar winner for best documentary Cynthia Wade, is another example of an Oscar veteran rejoining a familiar race. The film offers a much more complex, powerful answer to the simple question, “Who makes our American flags?”
The latest project to have serious star power within the short film community is Frank Chi’s 38 at the Garden, an HBO documentary about the cultural impact of Linsanity, produced by recent Academy Award winner for Best Live Action Short, Travon Free. The fact that the 2022 Oscar winner in that category was “The Queen of Basketball” could bode well for the crowd favorite starring former New York Knicks player Jeremy Lin, at least in terms of a nomination.
But determining the winner in the short film categories that casual Oscar viewers are often least informed about isn’t just about figuring out which projects have the most popular names. There’s also a lot of great technical filmmaking to commend. For example, “Haulout” and “Nuisance Bear,” two nature documentaries both distributed by The New Yorker, are projects with very original concepts, scenes that make viewers wonder how the filmmakers got the shot, and some important things to say about the impending global problems of climate change – a cause often covered in Academy-approved documentaries.
There’s more to watch from other platforms like Netflix, PBS and the New York Times, especially as the shortlists are released with people outside of the academy really paying attention to the best documentary race.
The candidates are listed below in alphabetical order. Only movies we’ve seen can count as front runners.
“As Far They Can Walk”
“The Flag Makers”
“38 in the Garden”
“American Justice in Court: People Against Newton”
“Angola, do you hear us? Voices from a Plantation Prison”
“The Elephant Whisperers”
“Happiness is 4 million pounds”
“How do you measure a year?”
“The Martha Mitchell Effect”
“Shut up and paint”
“Stranger at the Gate”
https://www.indiewire.com/2022/12/2023-oscars-best-documentary-short-predictions-1234794212/ 2023 Oscars Best Documentary Short Predictions