The Best Documentary Oscar is awarded annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to honor exceptional documentary films.
This category recognizes the power of non-fiction storytelling and the impact that documentaries can have on raising awareness, inspiring change, and providing insightful perspectives on real-world subjects.
Documentaries are films that aim to present factual information, explore real events, examine social issues, capture historical moments, or delve into personal stories.
They offer a unique platform for filmmakers to shed light on important topics, challenge perceptions, and provoke thought and discussion among audiences.
The Best Documentary category has a long history, with the first award presented in 1942.
Over the years, the category has evolved to embrace a wide range of documentary styles, including traditional documentaries, investigative journalism films, character studies, historical documentaries, environmental documentaries, and more.
The films can vary in length and can cover diverse subjects, from politics and human rights to nature and the arts.
Oscar Best Documentary
Documentary filmmakers often combine storytelling techniques, interviews, archival footage, observational filming, and other cinematic elements to craft narratives that engage and inform viewers.
The films nominated for Best Documentary are evaluated based on their storytelling prowess, factual accuracy, artistic merit, and overall impact.
Winning the Best Documentary Oscar brings significant recognition to the filmmakers and the important subjects they explore. It provides a platform to amplify the reach and impact of the documentary, drawing attention to the issues and stories that the film highlights.
The Best Documentary category at the Academy Awards not only celebrates the achievements of documentary filmmakers but also acknowledges the power of non-fiction storytelling to educate, inspire, and shape public discourse.
It serves as a reminder of the documentary genre’s ability to challenge conventional narratives and offer a window into the complexities of our world.
1. Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) (2019)
“Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)” is a documentary short film directed by Carol Dysinger.
Released in 2019, the film shines a light on the Skateistan organization in Kabul, Afghanistan, and follows a group of young Afghan girls who learn to skateboard in a society where such activities are traditionally considered inappropriate for girls.
The film showcases the challenges faced by these girls as they navigate their way through a male-dominated society and pursue their passion for skateboarding.
It explores the transformative power of education, empowerment, and community in providing opportunities for these girls to develop confidence, skills, and a sense of independence.
“Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)” captures the resilience and determination of the girls, their interactions with each other and their instructors, and the positive impact that skateboarding has on their lives.
It highlights the importance of breaking gender stereotypes and the potential of sports and education to bring about social change.
The film received critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2020.
It is celebrated for its inspiring storytelling, powerful message, and the way it sheds light on the lives of these young Afghan girls who are defying societal norms and finding empowerment through skateboarding.
“Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)” serves as a poignant reminder of the resilience and strength of individuals facing adversity, and it highlights the transformative power of education and sports in empowering marginalized communities.
2. Period. End of Sentence. (2018)
“Period. End of Sentence.” is a documentary short film directed by Rayka Zehtabchi. Released in 2018, the film explores the taboos and challenges surrounding menstruation in rural India.
Follows a group of women who strive to create and distribute affordable sanitary pads in their community.
The film sheds light on the stigma and cultural barriers associated with menstruation in India, where many girls and women face limited access to menstrual hygiene products and suffer from social exclusion during their periods.
It showcases the efforts of a group of local women who start a small business manufacturing and selling low-cost sanitary pads, ultimately working towards destigmatizing menstruation and empowering women in their community.
“Period. End of Sentence.” captures the journey of these women as they challenge societal norms, educate their community about menstrual hygiene, and strive for gender equality.
The film addresses the larger issue of gender inequality and the importance of providing equal opportunities and resources for women.
The documentary received widespread acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2019.
It is celebrated for its powerful storytelling, impactful message, and its ability to spark conversations about menstruation, women’s empowerment, and social change.
“Period. End of Sentence.” serves as a catalyst for breaking down the stigma surrounding menstruation and highlights the importance of menstrual health and hygiene as a critical aspect of women’s rights and well-being.
It is an inspiring and thought-provoking film that brings attention to an important global issue and encourages dialogue and action towards achieving menstrual equity.
3. Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405 (2016)
“Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405” is a documentary short film directed by Frank Stiefel. Released in 2016, the film provides an intimate portrait of the life and work of artist Mindy Alper.
The film explores the struggles and triumphs of Mindy Alper, an accomplished artist based in Los Angeles, who has battled with severe mental illness throughout her life.
Through interviews with Mindy, her family, friends, and art therapists, the film delves into her creative process, the impact of her mental health on her art, and the ways in which art serves as an outlet for her emotions and a means of self-expression.
“Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405” not only showcases Mindy Alper’s art and her unique perspective on the world but also provides an intimate look at her personal journey of self-discovery, acceptance, and resilience.
The film offers insights into the complexities of mental illness and the transformative power of art as a form of therapy and healing.
The documentary received critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2018. It is praised for its compassionate storytelling, sensitive portrayal of mental health issues, and its celebration of the power of creativity and self-expression.
“Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405” is a moving and inspiring film that sheds light on the intersection of art and mental health.
It emphasizes the importance of understanding and supporting individuals with mental illness and recognizes the value of artistic expression in bringing healing and meaning to their lives.
4. The White Helmets (2016)
“The White Helmets” is a documentary short film directed by Orlando von Einsiedel. Released in 2016, the film focuses on the efforts of the Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, who are volunteer rescue workers operating in war-torn Syria.
The film follows the daily lives of these courageous men as they risk their lives to save civilians caught in the midst of the Syrian conflict.
The White Helmets are known for their bravery, selflessness, and dedication to saving lives in the face of unimaginable destruction and danger.
The film highlights their rescue efforts, including pulling survivors from the rubble, providing medical assistance, and working tirelessly to protect their communities.
“The White Helmets” provides an up-close and personal look at the devastating impact of the Syrian war on civilians and the extraordinary efforts of these volunteers to bring hope and assistance to those in need.
It offers a glimpse into the realities faced by the Syrian people and raises awareness about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country.
The documentary received critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2017.
It is celebrated for its powerful storytelling, its raw and emotional portrayal of the White Helmets’ work, and its ability to shed light on the resilience and strength of the Syrian people amidst the chaos and destruction of war.
“The White Helmets” serves as a testament to the heroism and humanity of the rescue workers and provides a powerful reminder of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria. It raises awareness about the important work of the White Helmets and their unwavering commitment to saving lives and providing hope in the midst of one of the most challenging conflicts of our time.
5. A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015)
“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” is a documentary short film directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. Released in 2015, the film delves into the practice of honor killings in Pakistan through the story of a young woman named Saba.
The film focuses on Saba’s personal journey as she survives an attempted honor killing by her own family after she marries a man of her own choice.
It explores the cultural and societal factors that contribute to the prevalence of honor killings in Pakistan and the immense pressure faced by women who go against traditional expectations.
“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” sheds light on the legal and social challenges surrounding honor killings and the struggle for justice.
It raises important questions about gender inequality, cultural norms, and the role of forgiveness within a complex and deeply rooted social issue.
The documentary received critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2016.
It is lauded for its powerful storytelling, its examination of gender-based violence, and its ability to provoke discussions about the need for change and the importance of human rights.
“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” serves as a powerful and poignant exploration of honor killings and the price that women like Saba pay for defying societal norms.
It brings attention to an urgent human rights issue and advocates for greater awareness, understanding, and action to protect the rights and lives of women facing violence and discrimination.
6. Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (2013)
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” is a documentary short film directed by Ellen Goosenberg Kent. Released in 2013, the film provides an intimate and emotional look at the work of the Veterans Crisis Line, a hotline dedicated to providing support and assistance to veterans in crisis.
The documentary focuses on the dedicated staff who answer calls at the Veterans Crisis Line and the challenges they face in dealing with veterans who are experiencing mental health issues, depression, and thoughts of suicide.
It highlights the critical role that the hotline plays in providing immediate help and support to veterans in their darkest moments.
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” showcases the compassionate and empathetic approach of the hotline staff as they work to save lives and provide a lifeline for veterans in need.
It offers a powerful insight into the struggles faced by many veterans and the importance of mental health services and support for those who have served in the military.
The documentary received critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2015. It is commended for its powerful storytelling, the human connection it portrays, and its exploration of the profound impact of war on the mental health of veterans.
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by veterans returning from war and the ongoing need for mental health support and resources.
It highlights the importance of raising awareness and providing accessible and effective services to address the mental health needs of veterans and reduce the tragic toll of suicide among those who have served their country.
7. The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life (2013)
“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life” is a documentary short film directed by Malcolm Clarke. Released in 2013, the film tells the remarkable story of Alice Herz-Sommer.
A pianist and Holocaust survivor who became the world’s oldest known Holocaust survivor until her passing in 2014 at the age of 110.
The film chronicles Alice Herz-Sommer’s life, her love for music, and the profound impact it had on her during the darkest times of her life.
It explores her experiences in the Theresienstadt concentration camp, where she continued to play music and inspire hope among her fellow prisoners.
“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life” provides a glimpse into Alice Herz-Sommer’s unwavering optimism, resilience, and belief in the power of music to transcend the horrors of the Holocaust.
It showcases her love for playing the piano and how it provided solace and strength throughout her life.
The documentary received critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2014. It is celebrated for its poignant storytelling, the inspiring message it conveys, and its portrayal of Alice Herz-Sommer as a testament to the indomitable human spirit.
“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life” serves as a tribute to Alice Herz-Sommer’s extraordinary life and her unwavering spirit in the face of unimaginable adversity.
It emphasizes the importance of resilience, hope, and the power of music to heal and bring solace even in the darkest of times.
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8. Inocente (2012)
“Inocente” is a documentary short film directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine. Released in 2012, the film follows the life of a 15-year-old girl named Inocente, who is a homeless undocumented immigrant living in San Diego, California.
The film portrays Inocente’s daily struggles as she navigates through the challenges of homelessness, poverty, and her uncertain immigration status.
Despite facing numerous obstacles, Inocente finds solace and purpose through her passion for art, using it as an outlet for self-expression and a way to cope with her circumstances.
“Inocente” explores themes of resilience, creativity, and the power of art as a transformative force. The documentary offers an intimate portrait of Inocente’s dreams, hopes, and aspirations as she strives to break free from the cycle of homelessness and pursue her passion for art.
The film received critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2013.
It is praised for its compelling storytelling, its honest portrayal of the experiences faced by homeless youth, and its advocacy for the power of the arts as a means of self-discovery and empowerment.
“Inocente” serves as a powerful testament to the strength and resilience of young individuals facing homelessness and adversity.
It sheds light on the struggles of undocumented immigrants and emphasizes the importance of providing support, resources, and opportunities for marginalized youth to pursue their dreams and create a better future for themselves.
9. Saving Face (2012)
“Saving Face” is a documentary short film directed by Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. Released in 2012, the film focuses on the issue of acid attacks in Pakistan and follows the story of several survivors as they strive for justice and healing.
The film sheds light on the prevalence of acid attacks in Pakistan, primarily targeting women who have been disfigured and scarred by perpetrators.
It delves into the lives of survivors and their journeys to rebuild their lives, regain their confidence, and seek legal action against their attackers.
“Saving Face” also highlights the work of Dr. Mohammad Jawad, a renowned plastic surgeon who travels to Pakistan to help these survivors by providing reconstructive surgery and psychological support.
The film captures the challenges faced by survivors as they navigate societal stigma, legal obstacles, and personal trauma.
The documentary received critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2012. It is praised for its impactful storytelling, its examination of gender-based violence, and its role in raising awareness about the issue of acid attacks globally.
“Saving Face” serves as a powerful advocate for the rights of survivors and their pursuit of justice. It brings attention to the need for societal change, improved legislation, and support systems for victims of gender-based violence.
The film contributes to ongoing conversations about gender equality, women’s rights, and the fight against violence and discrimination.
10. Strangers No More (2010)
“Strangers No More” is a documentary short film directed by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon.
Released in 2010, the film portrays the inspiring story of the Bialik-Rogozin School in Tel Aviv, Israel, where students from diverse backgrounds come together to receive an education and find refuge.
The film focuses on the experiences of immigrant children who attend the Bialik-Rogozin School, many of whom have fled their home countries due to war, poverty, or persecution.
It highlights the challenges they face, including language barriers, cultural adjustments, and the trauma they have endured.
“Strangers No More” showcases the school’s nurturing and inclusive environment, where students are given the opportunity to heal, learn, and form meaningful connections with their peers and teachers.
It emphasizes the dedication of the school’s staff in providing support, guidance, and a sense of belonging to the students.
The documentary won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2011. It is acclaimed for its compassionate storytelling, its celebration of diversity, and its uplifting portrayal of the resilience and determination of the students.
“Strangers No More” serves as a testament to the transformative power of education and compassion. It highlights the importance of creating inclusive spaces where children from different backgrounds can thrive and grow.
The film inspires viewers to embrace diversity, challenge prejudice, and support the education and well-being of young immigrants and refugees in their communities.
11. Music by Prudence (2010)
“Music by Prudence” is a documentary short film directed by Roger Ross Williams. Released in 2010, the film tells the inspiring story of Prudence Mabhena, a young Zimbabwean woman with a physical disability who overcomes adversity through her love for music.
The documentary follows Prudence Mabhena as she shares her journey of living with arthrogryposis, a condition that affects her limbs and mobility.
Despite facing numerous challenges and societal stigmas associated with disabilities in Zimbabwe, Prudence finds solace and strength through her singing talent and her involvement in a band called Liyana.
“Music by Prudence” highlights Prudence’s resilience, determination, and musical talent as she pursues her dreams and navigates the complexities of her personal life.
The film also sheds light on the importance of disability rights and inclusivity, challenging the negative perceptions and stereotypes often faced by people with disabilities.
The documentary received critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2010. It is celebrated for its powerful storytelling, its celebration of diversity, and its message of empowerment and resilience.
“Music by Prudence” serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative power of music and the importance of recognizing the talents and abilities of individuals with disabilities.
It showcases Prudence’s journey as an inspiration for others, highlighting the importance of inclusivity, acceptance, and equal opportunities for all.
12. Smile Pinki (2008)
“Smile Pinki” is a documentary short film directed by Megan Mylan. Released in 2008, the film tells the heartwarming story of Pinki Sonkar, a young girl from a rural village in Uttar Pradesh, India, who is born with a cleft lip and is given the opportunity to receive corrective surgery.
The documentary focuses on Pinki’s life and the challenges she faces due to her cleft lip. It explores the social stigma and discrimination she experiences within her community and her struggle to attend school and lead a normal life.
“Smile Pinki” showcases the efforts of the Smile Train, a nonprofit organization that provides free cleft lip surgeries to children in need.
Through the intervention of the Smile Train, Pinki’s life is transformed as she undergoes surgery and gains a new smile, which opens doors for her and improves her self-confidence.
The film not only highlights Pinki’s journey but also sheds light on the work of the Smile Train and the impact of their surgeries on the lives of children like Pinki.
“Smile Pinki” won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2009. It is acclaimed for its touching storytelling, its exploration of social issues related to cleft lips in rural India, and its message of hope and transformation.
The documentary serves as an advocate for the rights of children with cleft lips and raises awareness about the importance of access to healthcare and surgical interventions.
It celebrates Pinki’s resilience and determination, showcasing the transformative power of a simple surgery in changing a child’s life for the better.
13. Freeheld (2015)
“Freeheld” is a 2015 American drama film directed by Peter Sollett.
The film is based on the true story of Laurel Hester, a New Jersey police detective, and her fight for the right to pass her pension benefits to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The film portrays the challenges faced by Laurel Hester, played by Julianne Moore, as she battles not only her illness but also a system that denies her partner, Stacie Andree, played by Ellen Page, the same rights and benefits granted to married couples.
With the help of an activist named Steven Goldstein, played by Steve Carell, Laurel and Stacie fight for equality and recognition of their relationship.
“Freeheld” addresses important themes such as LGBTQ+ rights, discrimination, and the fight for justice. It shines a light on the struggles faced by same-sex couples in their pursuit of equal rights and recognition.
The film raises awareness about the importance of marriage equality and the impact of discriminatory policies on individuals and their loved ones.
“Freeheld” received positive reviews for its heartfelt performances, particularly from Julianne Moore and Ellen Page. The film is praised for its emotional resonance and its exploration of the human rights issues at its core.
Overall, “Freeheld” is a powerful and poignant film that tells a moving story of love, resilience, and the fight for justice and equality.
14. The Blood of Yingzhou District (2006)
“The Blood of Yingzhou District” is a documentary short film directed by Ruby Yang. Released in 2006, the film focuses on the issue of HIV/AIDS in China, particularly its impact on children in the Yingzhou District of Anhui Province.
The documentary sheds light on the lives of several children orphaned by AIDS and the challenges they face in a society marked by stigma and discrimination. It follows the stories of these children, their struggles with the disease, and their hopes for the future.
“The Blood of Yingzhou District” explores the efforts of dedicated individuals and organizations working to support and care for these children. It delves into the realities of their daily lives, their aspirations, and the impact of the disease on their communities.
The film highlights the need for increased awareness, prevention, and support for those affected by HIV/AIDS, especially children. It aims to challenge societal attitudes and promote understanding and compassion towards individuals living with the disease.
“The Blood of Yingzhou District” received critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2007.
It is praised for its powerful storytelling, its humanistic approach, and its ability to raise awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on vulnerable populations.
The documentary serves as a powerful call to action, urging viewers to confront the social and health issues surrounding HIV/AIDS and to work towards a more compassionate and inclusive society.
15. A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin (2005)
“A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin” is a documentary short film directed by Eric Simonson. Released in 2005, the film celebrates the life and career of Norman Corwin, a renowned American radio writer, producer, and director.
The documentary explores the significant contributions of Norman Corwin to the world of radio broadcasting during the “Golden Age of Radio” in the mid-20th century.
It delves into his innovative storytelling techniques, his thought-provoking scripts, and his ability to capture the attention and imagination of millions of listeners.
“A Note of Triumph” specifically focuses on one of Corwin’s most notable works, a radio broadcast titled “On a Note of Triumph,” which aired on VE Day (Victory in Europe Day) in 1945.
The broadcast, an eloquent tribute to the end of World War II in Europe, received widespread acclaim and is considered one of Corwin’s masterpieces.
The film not only highlights Corwin’s creative genius but also explores the historical context in which he worked.
It reflects on the power of radio as a medium of communication during a pivotal time in world history and the impact of Corwin’s work in fostering a sense of unity and hope among the American people.
“A Note of Triumph” won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2006. It is praised for its insightful exploration of Norman Corwin’s legacy, its appreciation of the art of radio broadcasting, and its celebration of the enduring power of storytelling.
The documentary serves as a tribute to the remarkable career of Norman Corwin and his lasting influence on the world of broadcasting.
It highlights the importance of art and media in shaping public consciousness and fostering a sense of unity and shared humanity during times of challenge and triumph.
16. Mighty Times: The Children’s March (2004)
“Mighty Times: The Children’s March” is a documentary short film directed by Robert Houston. Released in 2004, the film tells the inspiring story of the Children’s Crusade, a pivotal moment during the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.
The film focuses on the courageous actions of young African American students who, facing segregation and discrimination, took to the streets in peaceful protests and demonstrations.
These students, many of them in their early teens, played a significant role in challenging the racial injustices of the time and contributing to the eventual desegregation of Birmingham.
“Mighty Times: The Children’s March” features archival footage, photographs, and interviews with participants, including activists, students, and community members.
It provides a powerful and emotional account of the events that unfolded during the Children’s Crusade and the impact it had on the Civil Rights Movement as a whole.
The film highlights the bravery, determination, and resilience of the young protesters as they faced violence, arrests, and intimidation. It showcases the power of nonviolent resistance and the important role that youth activism played in pushing for social change.
“Mighty Times: The Children’s March” received critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2005.
It is celebrated for its powerful storytelling, its historical significance, and its ability to educate and inspire audiences about the courage and activism of young people during the Civil Rights Movement.
The documentary serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for racial equality and the importance of grassroots movements in effecting social change.
It honors the bravery of the children who stood up against injustice and serves as a call to action for future generations to continue fighting for equality and justice.
17. Chernobyl Heart (2003)
“Chernobyl Heart” is a documentary film directed by Maryann DeLeo. Released in 2003, the film focuses on the long-term health effects and human impact of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that occurred in 1986.
The film primarily examines the effects of radiation exposure on the children living in the affected areas of Ukraine and Belarus.
It explores the high incidence of birth defects, heart conditions, and other health issues among the children and the challenges they face in accessing proper medical care and support.
“Chernobyl Heart” features interviews with doctors, scientists, and affected individuals, providing firsthand accounts of the ongoing health crisis resulting from the nuclear disaster.
It highlights the struggles of the people living in the affected regions and the efforts of organizations and individuals working to address the health and environmental consequences of the Chernobyl accident.
The documentary raises awareness about the long-term impact of nuclear disasters on human health and emphasizes the need for continued support and assistance to the affected communities.
It brings attention to the ongoing environmental and health challenges faced by the people affected by the Chernobyl disaster, and it calls for greater international cooperation and assistance in addressing these issues.
“Chernobyl Heart” won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2004. It is widely acclaimed for its poignant storytelling, its emotional impact, and its focus on the human side of the Chernobyl disaster.
The film serves as a reminder of the devastating consequences of nuclear accidents and the importance of prioritizing safety, environmental protection, and the well-being of affected communities.
It aims to raise awareness and encourage action to prevent similar disasters in the future and to support those affected by such catastrophic events.
18. Twin Towers (2003)
“Twin Towers” is a documentary short film directed by Bill Guttentag and Robert David Port.
Released in 2003, the film tells the story of the tragic events that took place on September 11, 2001, specifically focusing on the experiences of two brothers, Jules and Gedeon Naudet, who were filming a documentary about a rookie New York City firefighter at the time.
The film provides a firsthand account of the events leading up to the attacks and captures the raw emotions and chaos that unfolded on that fateful day.
It showcases the dedication and bravery of the first responders, particularly the firefighters from the New York City Fire Department, who selflessly risked their lives to save others.
“Twin Towers” combines footage captured by the Naudet brothers, including the only known footage from inside the North Tower of the World Trade Center during the attack, with interviews and accounts from survivors, firefighters, and other witnesses.
The film offers a poignant and intimate perspective on the tragedy and its aftermath.
The documentary serves as a tribute to the victims of the September 11 attacks and honors the heroism and sacrifice of the first responders. It provides a powerful and personal insight into the devastating impact of the event and the resilience of the people affected.
“Twin Towers” received critical acclaim and was nominated for numerous awards. It is praised for its emotional impact, its powerful storytelling, and its respectful portrayal of the individuals involved in the events of September 11, 2001.
The film serves as a reminder of the resilience and unity of the human spirit in the face of tragedy. It also serves as a testament to the courage and dedication of the first responders who put their lives on the line to protect others, even in the face of unimaginable danger.
19. Thoth (2002)
“Thoth” is a documentary film directed by Sarah Kernochan and Lynn Appelle. Released in 2002, the film follows the life and artistic journey of Stephen Kaufman, also known as Thoth, a street performer and musician.
The film captures Thoth’s unique blend of music, dance, and performance art as he navigates the streets of New York City.
Thoth’s performances are characterized by his distinctive style of playing multiple musical instruments simultaneously while showcasing his expressive and theatrical dance moves.
“Thoth” delves into Thoth’s personal background and the challenges he has faced in his life. It explores his spiritual journey, his struggles with mental health issues, and his dedication to his art as a means of self-expression and healing.
The documentary highlights the transformative power of art and the profound impact it can have on individuals and communities. It celebrates Thoth’s creativity, passion, and resilience in pursuing his artistic vision, even in the face of adversity.
“Thoth” received critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2002. It is praised for its intimate portrayal of a unique artist and its exploration of the connection between art, identity, and the human spirit.
The film serves as an inspiration to artists and individuals alike, encouraging them to embrace their creativity and express themselves authentically. It reminds us of the power of art to transcend barriers and touch the lives of those who experience it.
20. King Gimp (1999)
“King Gimp” is a documentary film directed by Susan Hannah Hadary and William A. Whiteford.
Released in 1999, the film tells the remarkable story of Dan Keplinger, an artist with cerebral palsy, and his journey to overcome physical challenges and pursue his passion for painting.
The film follows Dan Keplinger from his childhood to adulthood, highlighting his artistic talent and determination to live a fulfilling life despite his disability. It explores the challenges he faces and the support he receives from his family, friends, and art instructors.
“King Gimp” not only showcases Dan Keplinger’s vibrant and expressive artwork but also delves into the personal struggles and triumphs he experiences as he navigates societal barriers and misconceptions about disability.
The film portrays his growth as an artist and his impact on the art community, as well as the positive influence he has on those around him.
The documentary received critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 1999. It is praised for its sensitive and insightful portrayal of disability, its celebration of creativity, and its exploration of the power of art to transcend physical limitations.
“King Gimp” serves as an inspiration to individuals with disabilities, promoting inclusivity and challenging societal norms.
It highlights the importance of embracing diversity and recognizing the immense talent and potential that exists within everyone, regardless of physical or cognitive challenges.
21. The Personals (1999)
“The Personals” is a documentary film directed by Keiko Ibi. Released in 1999, the film explores the experiences and emotions of a diverse group of individuals who have placed personal advertisements in a Taiwanese newspaper, seeking companionship and relationships.
The film follows a range of subjects, both men and women, who have chosen to advertise in the personals section of the newspaper.
Through interviews and candid conversations, the documentary delves into their hopes, desires, and personal journeys as they navigate the world of dating and relationships.
“The Personals” offers a glimpse into the lives of its subjects, revealing their vulnerabilities, aspirations, and the challenges they face in their search for love and connection.
It explores themes of loneliness, societal expectations, cultural norms, and the universal human desire for companionship.
The documentary provides an intimate and sometimes humorous portrayal of the personal ads phenomenon, shedding light on the complexities of human relationships and the ways in which people attempt to find love and connection in a changing world.
“The Personals” received critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 1999.
It is praised for its intimate and empathetic storytelling, its nuanced portrayal of the human experience, and its exploration of themes that resonate with audiences on a universal level.
The film serves as a reflection on the human condition, reminding us of our shared desires and the universal longing for love and companionship. It offers a glimpse into the lives of individuals who often go unnoticed and provides a platform for their stories to be heard and understood.
22. The Longest Day (1962)
“The Longest Day” is a 1962 epic war film directed by Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, and Bernhard Wicki. It is based on Cornelius Ryan’s book of the same name, which chronicles the events of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II.
The film offers a comprehensive portrayal of the preparations and execution of the largest amphibious military operation in history, involving American, British, and Canadian forces.
It depicts the events leading up to the invasion, the planning process, and the actual landing on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.
“The Longest Day” features a star-studded ensemble cast, including John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, and many others.
The film aims to provide a balanced perspective by showcasing multiple perspectives, including those of the Allied forces, German defenders, and French civilians.
With its grand scale and attention to detail, “The Longest Day” recreates the intensity, heroism, and sacrifices made by soldiers and civilians alike during the crucial battle for Normandy.
The film captures the complexity and scale of the D-Day operation, including the airborne landings, the naval bombardments, and the assault on the fortified beaches.
“The Longest Day” was a critical and commercial success upon its release. It received numerous accolades and nominations, including several Academy Award nominations.
The film is regarded as one of the definitive cinematic portrayals of the D-Day invasion and remains a classic war film.
It serves as a tribute to the soldiers who fought and the lives lost during the pivotal battle of D-Day.
“The Longest Day” seeks to honor the bravery and sacrifice of those who participated in the invasion and to provide an immersive cinematic experience that educates and informs viewers about this significant moment in history.
23. Cleopatra (1963)
“Cleopatra” is a 1963 epic historical drama film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. The film tells the story of Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt, and her relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, two of the most influential figures of the Roman Republic.
The film stars Elizabeth Taylor in the title role of Cleopatra, with Richard Burton playing the role of Mark Antony and Rex Harrison portraying Julius Caesar. The film’s lavish production, opulent sets, and elaborate costumes made it one of the most expensive films ever made at the time.
“Cleopatra” depicts the political intrigue, power struggles, and romantic entanglements that shaped the final years of Cleopatra’s reign. It explores her relationships with both Caesar and Antony, as well as the impact of her actions on the ancient world.
The film received mixed reviews upon its release but was a commercial success. It won four Academy Awards, including Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Visual Effects.
Despite its initial reception, “Cleopatra” has gained a reputation over time for its grand scale and Taylor’s iconic performance.
“Cleopatra” serves as a fictionalized account of one of history’s most fascinating figures and her influence on the Roman Empire. It portrays Cleopatra as a powerful, intelligent, and seductive leader who played a significant role in shaping the destiny of Egypt and Rome.
While the film takes creative liberties with historical accuracy, it remains a visually stunning and captivating portrayal of an iconic historical figure. “Cleopatra” continues to be remembered as one of the most ambitious and memorable epic films of its time.
3 Characteristics of Oscar Best Documentary Movies
Authentic and Thought-Provoking Subject Matter: Oscar-winning Best Documentary movies are known for tackling authentic and thought-provoking subject matter.
These films delve into real-world issues, social injustices, historical events, personal stories, or societal phenomena, aiming to educate, inform, and raise awareness.
The documentaries often shed light on untold stories, marginalized voices, and important societal topics, providing audiences with a deeper understanding of the world around them.
Compelling and Engaging Storytelling: Best Documentary Oscar winners excel in compelling and engaging storytelling techniques.
These films employ various narrative structures, including interviews, archival footage, reenactments, and creative visual approaches to captivate audiences and convey their messages effectively.
The filmmakers skillfully weave together different elements, such as personal anecdotes, expert analysis, and emotional moments, to create a cohesive and impactful narrative that resonates with viewers.
Documentary Excellence: The winners of the Best Documentary Oscar often demonstrate excellence in documentary filmmaking. These films showcase meticulous research, careful editing, and a balanced presentation of facts and perspectives.
The filmmakers employ ethical storytelling practices, ensuring accuracy, fairness, and integrity in their portrayal of the subject matter.
They strive to provide a comprehensive and nuanced exploration of the topic, offering audiences a deeper understanding and emotional connection to the subject.
Furthermore, Best Documentary Oscar winners often inspire conversations, evoke empathy, and provoke societal change.
These films have the power to challenge preconceived notions, ignite social movements, and contribute to the discourse on important issues. They highlight the impact that documentaries can have in shaping public opinion and promoting social justice.
These three characteristics—authentic and thought-provoking subject matter, compelling and engaging storytelling, and documentary excellence—define the excellence of the winners of the Best Documentary Oscar.
They highlight the power of documentaries to inform, inspire, and create a meaningful impact on society.
3 Reasons To Watch Oscar Best Documentary Movies
Insightful and Informative: Oscar-winning documentary films provide a unique opportunity to delve into real-world issues and explore important subjects that impact our society.
These films often shed light on untold stories, social justice causes, environmental concerns, or historical events.
By watching Oscar Best Documentary movies, you gain valuable insights, broaden your knowledge, and develop a deeper understanding of complex topics.
These films can be eye-opening, thought-provoking, and educational, offering a chance to engage with significant issues and encourage meaningful conversations.
Authentic Storytelling: Documentary films offer a distinct form of storytelling that focuses on capturing real-life experiences, perspectives, and emotions.
They provide a platform for authentic voices and enable filmmakers to share compelling narratives through interviews, archival footage, and observational storytelling.
Oscar-winning documentaries often showcase the artistry and craft of filmmakers who excel in presenting a balanced, engaging, and thoughtfully constructed narrative.
By watching these films, you experience storytelling in its purest form and connect with the human stories behind the events.
Advocacy and Social Impact: Many Oscar-winning documentaries are catalysts for social change and advocate for important causes. These films raise awareness about societal issues, inspire action, and serve as a powerful tool for advocacy.
By watching Best Documentary movies, you become part of a larger conversation and contribute to creating a more informed and engaged society.
These films can spark discussions, inspire empathy, and motivate viewers to become agents of change in their communities. They have the potential to leave a lasting impact and inspire viewers to take action towards creating a better world.
In summary, watching Oscar Best Documentary movies allows you to gain insightful and informative perspectives, experience authentic storytelling, and engage with films that have the power to create social impact.
These documentaries offer a unique window into real-world issues and provide an opportunity to learn, empathize, and contribute to important conversations surrounding the subjects they explore.
Best Oscar Best Documentary Movies – Wrap Up
The Academy Awards for Best Documentary honor outstanding non-fiction films that provide thought-provoking insights into real-life subjects and events.
While it is subjective to determine the “best” movies, here are a few notable documentaries that have received acclaim and recognition through their Oscar wins:
“Citizenfour” (2014) – Directed by Laura Poitras, this documentary offers an intimate and gripping account of Edward Snowden’s revelations about government surveillance.
The film won the Best Documentary Feature award and sheds light on the implications of privacy and civil liberties in the digital age.
“March of the Penguins” (2005) – Directed by Luc Jacquet, this documentary won the Best Documentary Feature award. It follows the remarkable journey of Emperor penguins in Antarctica, capturing their struggle for survival and their complex mating rituals.
“Searching for Sugar Man” (2012) – Directed by Malik Bendjelloul, this documentary tells the extraordinary story of musician Rodriguez and his rediscovery decades after his disappearance from the music scene.
The film won the Best Documentary Feature award and celebrates the power of music and the impact of art on people’s lives.
“Man on Wire” (2008) – Directed by James Marsh, this documentary won the Best Documentary Feature award.
It chronicles Philippe Petit’s daring tightrope walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974, exploring themes of ambition, artistic expression, and human achievement.
“Amy” (2015) – Directed by Asif Kapadia, this documentary offers an intimate and heartbreaking portrait of the life and career of singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse.
The film won the Best Documentary Feature award and delves into the complexities of fame, addiction, and the price of success.
“Icarus” (2017) – Directed by Bryan Fogel, this documentary won the Best Documentary Feature award.
It explores the Russian doping scandal in sports, with Fogel initially setting out to investigate the impact of performance-enhancing drugs on his own cycling performance before uncovering a vast conspiracy.
These are just a few examples of exceptional documentaries that have been recognized with the Oscar for Best Documentary.
Each film tackles important subjects, sheds light on untold stories, and provokes meaningful discussions. Exploring these documentaries allows for a deeper understanding of the world we live in and the power of non-fiction storytelling to educate, inspire, and spark change.