Not one music documentary made the shortlist of 15 films competing for best documentary (feature) at the 93rd annual Academy Awards. Among the music docs that members of the documentary branch considered, but didn’t vote for in sufficient numbers, were: Beastie Boys Story, the Taylor Swift doc Miss Americana and Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences revealed its shortlists in nine categories, including documentary (feature), on Tuesday (Feb. 9).
Beastie Boys Story, which Spike Jonze directed and co-produced, is nominated for a Grammy for best music film. The Grammy winners will be announced on March 14.
Here are the 15 shortlisted films in the documentary (feature) category:
All In: The Fight for Democracy
Dick Johnson Is Dead
The Mole Agent
My Octopus Teacher
The Painter and the Thief
The Truffle Hunters
Welcome to Chechnya
These 15 films were selected by members of the documentary branch from 238 films that were eligible in the category. Members of the documentary branch will also select the five nominees, which will be revealed on March 15. All Oscar voting members will vote to determine the winners, which will be announced on April 25.
Other music docs that failed to make the shortlist include Billie (about Billie Holiday), Chuck Berry, Creem: America’s Only Rock n Roll Magazine, Dave Grusin: Not Enough Time, The Go-Go’s, Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind, Harry Chapin: When in Doubt, Do Something, On the Record (about a rape charge against a hip-hop mogul), Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band and Zappa (about Frank Zappa).
But there is a strong music/documentary connection this year in one respect: Four of the 15 songs that are shortlisted for best original song are from documentaries that were entered in the competition for best documentary (feature): “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy, “See What You’ve Done” from Belly of the Beast, “Never Break” from Giving Voice and “Show Me Your Soul” from Mr. Soul!.
Of these four docs, only All In: The Fight for Democracy, which looks at the history of voter suppression in the U.S., is on the shortlist for documentary (feature). A song from the film, “Turntables,” which was co-written by Janelle Monáe, Nathaniel Irvin III & George A. Peters II, is shortlisted for best original song.
Once in Oscar history, a song won best original song that was featured a doc that won documentary (feature). That happened 14 years ago when Melissa Etheridge’s “I Need to Wake Up” and the doc An Inconvenient Truth both took top honors.
Eight music-themed docs have won in the documentary (feature) category over the years — including three in the last decade: Arthur Rubinstein – The Love of Life (1969), Woodstock (1970), From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China (1980), Artie Shaw: Time Is All You’ve Got (1986), In the Shadow of the Stars (about the world of opera, 1991), Searching for Sugar Man (about mysterious 1970s rock’n’roller Rodriguez, 2012), 20 Feet from Stardom (about backup singers, 2013) and Amy (about Amy Winehouse, 2015).