2022 Oscar Predictions: Best Documentary Feature

Predicting the winner of the Best Documentary Feature Oscar became a lot easier on December 21 when the academy announced the 15 films that made the shortlist. Those semi-finalists are culled from the 138 titles that qualified this year for consideration. (Scroll down for the most up-to-date 2022 Oscars predictions for Best Documentary Feature.)

To winnow these down to a manageable number, the academy adds newly eligible documentary feature to a virtual screening room available to all 500 plus members of the documentary branch. While all members are encouraged to watch as many of these as they can, one-fifth of the voters are assigned each title. In the new year, each branch member will submit a preferential ballot listing their top 15 choices.

All of these ballots were collated to determine the 15 semi-finalists. Branch members were encouraged to watch those films on this list that they haven’t seen yet before casting another preferential ballot on which they list their top five choices. The resulting five Documentary Feature nominees will be unveiled along with all the other Oscar categories on February 8. All academy voters can cast ballots for the winner of this race, which will be revealed during the Oscar ceremony on March 27.

Usually to be eligible for consideration, a documentary feature usually has to first qualify with week-long runs in Los Angeles and New York City which merited reviews by film critics of leading publications or be screened at certain film festivals. Those requirements have been waived this year, with streaming allowed as a means of qualification.

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UPDATED: January 24, 2022

Leading Contenders (ranked by likelihood of winning)

“Flee” (Director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen)
“Summer of Soul” (Director: Quest Love)
“The Rescue” (Director: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi)
“Procession” (Director: Robert Greene)
“Ascension” (Director: Jessica Kingdon)
“The First Wave” (Director: Matthew Heineman)

Strong Contenders (alphabetical by title)
“Attica” (Director: Stanley Nelson)
“In the Same Breath” (Director: Nanfu Wang)
“Julia” (Director: Julie Cohen, Betsy West)
“Simple as Water” (Director: Megan Mylan)
“The Velvet Underground” (Director: Todd Haynes)

Possible Contenders (alphabetical by title)
“Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry” (Director: RJ Cutler)
“Faya Dayi” (Director: Jessica Beshir)
“President” (Director: Camilla Nielsson)
“Writing with Fire” (Director: Rintu Thomas)

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