At Least One of These 15 Documentary Features Will Win an Oscar in 2022

Your guide to this year's five Oscar shortlists recognizing documentaries.

Procession shortlisted documentary

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science has released its shortlists for various categories for the 94th Oscars. Among them is the list of 15 documentary features and the list of 15 documentary shorts vying for nominations in 2022. There are also docs on the shortlists for Best Animated Feature, Best International Feature, and Best Music (Original Song).

These lists will be pared down to five nominees in each category, all announced together with the rest of the Oscar nominations on February 8, 2022. And the winners will be revealed at the Academy Awards ceremony held on March 27, 2022.

2022 Documentary Feature Oscar Shortlist

First, here is the shortlist of documentary features, narrowed down from 138 eligible titles:

Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry
Faya Dayi
The First Wave
In the Same Breath
The Rescue
Simple as Water 
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
The Velvet Underground
Writing with Fire

At least one of those will win an Oscar. Maybe two, if something other than Flee wins Best Documentary Feature but then Flee manages to win for Best Animated Feature or Best International Feature (or both!). The animated documentary is shortlisted in those two categories as well, just as it has been nominated at the Critics Choice Awards.

Another documentary feature, Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road, is not a contender for the Best Documentary Feature award but is shortlisted in the Best Music (Original Song) category. The specific recognition is for the tune “Right Where I Belong,” which is written and performed by titular doc subject Brian Wilson with Jim James.

I also want to point out the doc-related significance of another nominee in the Original Song category. “No Time to Die” (written by Billie Eilish, Miles Ale, and Finneas O’Connell, and performed by Billie Eilish) from the James Bond movie of the same name, can be seen being written in Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry, which is on the doc feature shortlist.

2022 Documentary Short Subject Oscar Shortlist

Now here is the shortlist of documentary shorts, narrowed down from 82 eligible titles:

A Broken House
Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis
Coded: The Hidden Love of J. C. Leyendecker
Day of Rage
The Facility
Lead Me Home
Lynching Postcards: Token of a Great Day
The Queen of Basketball
Sophie & the Baron
Terror Contagion
Three Songs for Benazir
When We Were Bullies

Among the contenders for Best Documentary Short Subject are four 2021 Critics Choice Documentary Awards nominees, including the CCDA winner, The Queen of Basketball. Similarly, among the contenders for Best Documentary Feature are 11 Critics Choice Documentary Awards nominees in various categories.

Those feature titles include Questlove’s Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), which won six CCDAs including the Best Documentary Feature award. Traditionally, for some reason, no past CCDA winner in that top category has wound up with an Oscar nomination. We’ll find out in a couple of months if that happens again.

One other shortlisted feature won CCDAs in other categories. The Rescue was the winner in the Best Director, Best Score, and Best Cinematography categories. Surprisingly, the CCDA winners snubbed by the Academy include Becoming Cousteau, Val, and The Alpinist. Other surprising omissions include My Name is Pauli Murray and the short film The Last Cruise.

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.