Oscar Predictions: Lucy and Desi

At last weekend’s Oscars, Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem were both nominated as Lucy (as in Lucille Ball) and Desi (as in Arnaz) for Being the Ricardos. We could see the couple/sitcom stars represented at next year’s ceremony in documentary form.

Lucy and Desi premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime. It was directed by another famed TV comedienne – Amy Poehler. Reviews stand at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Docs about notable entertainment subjects often fail to garner the attention of Academy voters. Recent omissions from the five nominees in the race include Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Mister Rogers) and Julia (2021’s feature about Julia Child). Despite the pleasing critical reaction, I suspect Lucy and Desi could suffer the same fate. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Navalny

Focused on the Russian opposition leader who was mysteriously poisoned in 2020, Navalny struck a chord with Sundance festival goers and won the documentary audience award and festival favorite prize.

It comes from filmmaker Daniel Roher and is slated for distribution on CNN and via HBO Max in the early portion of the year. Standing at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, this will attempt to carry its buzz forward through awards season and could absolutely be a factor in the Doc Feature competition at next year’s Oscars.

Sundance is often a successful launching pad in the genre. Last year, a third of the 15 doc contenders (including Flee, Faye Dayi, and Summer of Soul) got their starts in Park City. Navalny may be on the list this time in 2023 and my Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Fire of Love

Romance and volcanoes dominate the doc Fire of Love, which debuted at Sundance over the weekend and already ignited a heated bidding war. The French offering from filmmaker Sara Dosa is one of the most discussed pics of the fest and the Rotten Tomatoes rating stands at 100%.

Centered on a couple and their devotion to capturing volcanic imagery, Love was quickly picked up by National Geographic’s documentary division and should be out later this year. It could follow a similar path to The Rescue, another acclaimed Nat Geo pickup that appears destined to nab a Documentary Feature nomination from the Academy in a couple weeks (and it could win).

Sundance has already produced a potential shortlist contender here and my Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: The First Wave

Out today in limited release is The First Wave from documentarian Matthew Heineman. Distributed by Neon and National Geographic Documentary Films, Wave shows us the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic from a New York City hospital. Its filmmaker has been in the Oscar mix before as his 2015 doc Cartel Land was up for Best Documentary Feature.

There are plenty of high profile contenders for the race in 2021. A potential winner also comes from Nat Geo – The Rescue. That’s in addition to Flee, Summer of Soul, and others.

It’s certainly feasible that this could make the final five and mark Heineman’s second foray into the competition. It’s also possible that some voters may not want to relive the tragic times we’ve gone through.

Bottom line: if The First Wave makes the shortlist next month, a nod is questionable but possible. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Watch: Procession

Procession debuts on Netflix this Friday after premiering to solid critical notices at the Telluride Film Festival in September. From documentarian Robert Greene, the pic focuses on a group of six Catholic priest abuse survivors and their therapeutic methods for recovery. With 17 reviews up on Rotten Tomatoes, the score is 100%.

Nearly each time I do a predictions post for a doc, I feel compelled to point out that this is an unpredictable branch of Academy voters. When the shortlist is announced on December 21st featuring the 15 pictures in contention for Documentary Feature, there are bound to be surprising omissions. Procession looks like one that should make the cut.

Whether it makes makes the final five is a bigger question. As of now, I believe three competitors (The Rescue, Flee, Summer of Soul) stand the best odds of getting in. There’s a slew of others vying for the other two spots and Procession certainly has the reviews it needs to fill it. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…


Oscar Predictions: Ascension

Following its summertime premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, Jessica Kingdon’s documentary Ascension has opened in limited release this month. Focused on economic conditions in China, the pic has received acclaim and stands at 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Picked up by MTV Films for distribution, Ascension was recently among the 12 nominees for the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards. Of course, there’s only five features selected by the Academy next year. The Rescue and Flee are two nominees that seem likely to make the cut (though this branch of voters has often been unpredictable). Assuming there’s three spots for the taking, there will be a multitude of contenders. I currently have Summer of Soul, Attica, and The Lost Leonardo taking them. All 5 of my predicted nominees were also named in the Critics’ Choice selections.

However, the critical reaction for Ascension is strong enough that it certainly stands a shot at inclusion. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Attica

Premiering this weekend in limited theatrical release before its November 6th bow on Showtime, the documentary Attica focuses on the prison riot that took place 50 years ago. From filmmaker Stanley Nelson, the pic was unveiled at the Toronto Film Festival last month to laudatory reaction. The Rotten Tomatoes score is 100% based on 26 reviews.

Attica could definitely make the final five in the Documentary Feature category with the Academy. I have it ranked third in my latest weekly projections behind The Rescue and Flee. Those two docs appear to be the ones vying for the victory, but don’t be surprised if Attica is deemed a dark horse contender for a surprise win. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: President

Camille Nielsson’s documentary President premiered at the Sundance Film Festival early in the year. Focused on the 2018 elections in Zimbabwe, the pic stands a chance at inclusion at the Oscars. In its favor is that Sundance named it for their world cinema special jury award back in January.

Sporting a 90% Rotten Tomatoes rating, the reviews are decent enough that it could be a player. On the other hand, they’re not strong enough for me to believe it’s a threat to win.

In my first prediction posts covering this category on Sunday, I had President ranked fourth and therefore making the cut. At the moment, The Rescue and Flee look like potential victors. Those two pictures appear to be in. The rest of the doc hopefuls should be duking it out for the other three slots and President is worth paying attention to. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Julia

The life of Julia Child has intersected with Academy voters before when Meryl Streep was nominated for Best Actress as the famed cook in 2009’s Julie & Julia. Will it occur again with Julia, a documentary hitting screens on November 5?

From directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West, Julia premiered this month at the Telluride Film Festival. The reviews are all positive and it stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, some of thumbs up assessments weren’t overly glowing in their praise.

The co-production with CNN Films certainly stands a decent shot at inclusion in Documentary Feature, but I didn’t feel confident enough about it to slot it in my top five earlier today. We’ll see if it eventually bubbles up to the surface. My Oscar Predictions posts on the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: The Rescue

In 2018, documentary filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin had a breakout hit with the climbing tale Free Solo. It took gold for Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars. The duo has debuted their latest true life saga The Rescue at Telluride and Toronto.

This story goes below ground in recounting the Tham Luang cave rescue in the summer of 2018. Early reviews from the festival circuit indicate they have made another stunner (100% on Rotten Tomatoes). Based on these reactions, I think it’s safe to assume The Rescue will make one of the five slots in the race that the directors triumphed in three years ago. The only caveat is that the documentary branch of the Academy is sometimes known for shocking snubs.

That said, there’s no doubt that The Rescue is not only in line for a nod, but it is a serious threat to win.