What Happened Was: 30 Docs Snubbed by Oscar

The Best Documentary Feature category at the Oscars has a terrible track record — so often, it has completely snubbed docs that were transcendant, that were among the best films (let alone docs) of their year, and that had mainstream commercial success to boot.

Paris was burning, but the Best Doc voters yawned. (Image via Miramax)

This year, the nominees include expected films, such as ree Solo, RBG and Minding the Gap — excellent choices. However, Of Fathers and Sons and Hale County This Morning, This Evening seem to have usurped positions that were widely expected to have gone to Won't You Be My Neighbor? and Three Identical Strangers; dark horse Shirkers was one of  my favorite overall films of the year.

But Won't You Be My Neighbor? — certainly the year's biggest snub overall, in a year that saw Bradley Cooper miss out on a Best Director nod and Ethan Hawke miss out on Best Actor — and Three Identical Strangers are in good company. For example, the classic doc Hoop Dreams was shut out of the nominations 25 years ago. It was such a shocker an investigation ensued, and it determined that eligible doc voters, who were supposed to grade, in good faith, all 63 eligible documentaries on a sale of 6 to 10 but had instead given 10s to their favorites and 6s to any they wanted to halt. It was all but confirmed that Hoop Dreams had just missed a nomination when the Academy's Bruce Davis announced that one doc had more 10 scores than any other film in the category but had failed to be nominated because it also had more sixes.

Even with changes over the years, the category is a joke. Herewith, a list of just some of the docs that were not so much as nominated for Best Documentary Feature (not including Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, which was ruled ineligible because it had played on TV):

Point of Order (1964)

Salesman (1968)

F for Fake (1973)

Grey Gardens (1975)

A Grin Without a Cat (1977)

The Last Waltz (1978)

Sans Soleil (1983)

Shoah (1985)

Sherman's March (1986)

The Thin Blue Line (1988)

Roger & Me (1989)

Paris Is Burning (1990)

Madonna: Truth or Dare (1990)

Crumb (1994)

Hoop Dreams (1994)

The Celluloid Closet (1995)

American Movie (1999)

Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)

Grizzly Man (2005)

Lake of Fire (2006)

This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

The Interrupters (2011)

Stories We Tell (2013)

Life Itself (2014)

McQueen (2018)

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (2018)

Shirkers (2018)

Three Identical Strangers (2018)

Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018)

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