Documentaries weave beautiful stories, expose the darker side of humanity, examine popular culture and challenge communities and viewers alike. Films of this ilk regularly make critics’ year-end Top 10 lists and sometimes they even make dividends at the box office. But no documentary feature has ever been nominated for Best Picture (although nine foreign-language films and even three animated features have broken into the Best Picture category).
Documentaries can be every bit as compelling as their narrative counterparts. While a number of docs become critical favorites (e.g. “Grizzly Man”), there are quite a few that even become box office smashes (e.g. “Fahrenheit 9/11”). And fewer still that become both (e.g. “Hoop Dreams”). So why can’t these documentaries make the transition to the Best Picture conversation?
Here, we offer a list of some of the documentaries that should have made the leap. There are a number of inspiring, compelling and thought-provoking documentaries out there and these docs deserve an Honorable Mention: “Paris is Burning,” “Thin Blue Line,” “Bowling For Columbine,” “I Am Not Your Negro,” and “The Act of Killing.”