After shocking snubs of supposed heavyweight contenders Jane, the PGA winner, and City of Ghosts, the DGA winner, and the BAFTA being given to a 2016 US release, I Am Not Your Negro, the documentary feature category is, essentially, without precursors to illuminate a likely winner.
In this case, it comes down to politics and buzz. A producer of Last Men in Aleppo, for a period of time, was not going to be able to attend the ceremony because of President Trump’s travel ban. Last year, The Salesman director Asghar Farhadi was also barred, and the narrative pushed his foreign film to a win. The producer ended up obtaining a Visa, but it wasn’t announced until after voting had closed. The same type of narrative could’ve cleared a path for the film to win.
Faces Places isn’t the most overtly political film, but it is certainly a contender because of the personality of Agnes Varda. Varda is a legendary filmmaker and a beloved figure, and many might want to see her take home an Oscar.
Strong Island might gain some traction, as it is a documentary about the murder of a young Black man and filmmaker Yance Ford is the first transgender director to receive an Oscar nomination.
And Abacus: Small Enough to Jail is about the Wall Street crash and the local, family run, Chinatown-based bank that ended up being the only bank the US government attempted to prosecute.
But the pick I’m going with is Icarus. The film comes from Netflix, a definite documentary force, and the voting period hit almost exactly at the same time as the Winter Olympics, an event many Russian athletes were banned from because of the very events that the film tracks. And with “Russia” in the headlines almost daily, voters might’ve been drawn to Icarus pretty easily.
Last Men in Aleppo
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Will win: Icarus
Could win: Faces Places
Should win: Icarus
Should’ve been nominated: Jane
Featured image via Cohen Media Group