Oscars 2021: Documentary Feature–Shortlist of 10

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has announced the shortlists in 10 categories for the upcoming 94th Oscar ceremony.

The shortlist voting concluded on December 15, and the remaining ones will move on to the official phase one voting.

Nominations voting begins on Thursday, January 27, and ends on Tuesday, February 1.

The official credits and nominees for all the films will be announced, with the rest of the Oscar nominations on Tuesday, February 8.

Documentary Feature

  • “Ascension” (MTV Documentary Films) – dir. Jessica Kingdon
  • “Attica” (Showtime) – dir. Stanley Nelson
  • “Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry” (Apple Original Films) – dir. RJ Cutler
  • “Faya Dayi” (Janus Films) – dir. Jessica Beshir
  • “The First Wave” (National Geographic) – dir. Matthew Heineman
  • “Flee” (Neon) – dir. Jonas Poher Rasmussen
  • “In the Same Breath” (HBO Documentary Films) – dir. Nanfu Wang
  • “Julia” (Sony Pictures Classics) – dir. Julie Cohen, Betsy West
  • “President” (Greenwich Entertainment) – dir. Camilla Nielsson
  • “Procession” (Netflix) – dir. Robert Greene
  • “The Rescue” (National Geographic) – dir. Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
  • “Simple as Water” (HBO Documentary Films) – dir. Megan Mylan
  • “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” (Hulu/Searchlight Pictures) – dir. Quest Love
  • “The Velvet Underground” (Apple Original Films) – dir. Todd Haynes
  • “Writing with Fire” (Music Box Films) – dir. Rintu Thomas

With 138 features submitted for recognition, there aren’t as many “shockers” as we thought there would be. Apple Original Films managed two entries for music docs — “Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry” and “The Velvet Underground.” Also landing two films each was HBO with Nanfu Wang’s “In The Same Breath” (who missed out for her film “One Child Nation”) and Megan Mylan’s “Simple as Water” (who won the Oscar for documentary short for 2008’s “Smile Pinki”). Eight of the shortlisted films are helmed by women, which is notable.

The snubs include Discovery Plus’ “Francesco” and “Introducing, Selma Blair,” both powerful portraits, along with Edgar Wright’s love letter to the band Sparks, “The Sparks Brothers.” Also missing out was Netflix’s “Pray Away” and, most egregious, Sony Pictures Classics’ “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America.”

Members of the Documentary Branch vote to determine the shortlist and the nominees.