The Oscars announced their Best Documentary Feature shortlist on December 16, and out of the 15 contenders still in the competition, it turns out the magic number is 11. Specifically, “Apollo 11,” which is the front-runner to win according to the predictions of the Expert journalists we’ve surveyed from top media outlets since the academy revealed its semifinalists.
“Apollo 11” uses archive footage to dramatize the space mission that landed Neil Armstrong on the moon 50 years ago in 1969. As of this writing 11 out of 19 Experts are predicting it to win: Edward Douglas (The Beast), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Tariq Khan (Fox TV), Andrea Mandell (USA Today), Scott Mantz (Collider), Jack Mathews (Gold Derby), Wilson Morales (BlackFilm), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Christopher Rosen (Decider), Jazz Tangcay (Variety) and Susan Wloszczyna (Gold Derby).
The film opened back in March but it remains one of the year’s best reviewed films, fiction or nonfiction, with a MetaCritic score of 88 that makes it one of that review aggregator’s 15 highest rated titles of 2019. It was also a box office hit, grossing $15 million worldwide, an impressive haul for a documentary.
The film has already claimed Best Documentary prizes from a number of regional critics groups from Chicago and San Francisco to Atlanta and Kansas City. It has also been acknowledged by industry insiders with nominations from the Producers Guild, American Cinema Editors, Cinema Audio Society and Motion Picture Sound Editors.
Crossover hits like “Apollo 11” have won the Best Documentary Oscar before, including “March of the Penguins” (2005) and “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006), but the academy has also been notorious for some of their more egregious snubs over the years, from “Hoop Dreams” (1994) to last year’s surprise omission “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (2018). So while it seems like “Apollo 11” might be too big to fail in this race, that hasn’t always been the case. This may yet be a nail-biter like the moon mission that inspired it … okay, not quite that big a nail-biter, but still.
Be sure to make your Oscar nominee predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominees are announced on January 13. And join in the fun debate over the 2020 Academy Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.