2023 Best Documentary Oscar Nominees-Look back at a classic

Lee Heidhues 3.8.2023

The Academy Awards are this Sunday.

I always pay attention to the category of feature length documentaries which tend to balance art and politics.

One of my favorite winning documentaries is the 2003 ‘The Fog of War Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara.’ Defense Secretary under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Born in San Francisco’s Richmond District on 10th Avenue, McNamara had a corporate career before joining the Kennedy Administration in 1961as Secretary of Defense His role in the Vietnam War was pivotal and a crucial factor in the disastrous American involvement.


Excerpted from Vogue – Taylor Antrim 2.13.2023

If you’re looking for suspense at the Oscars, focus your attention on the documentary-feature-film category. It’s a nail-biter, a true toss-up, with five near-perfect movies (representing my second-favorite set of nominees in the race).

The quality is all the more remarkable given the state of the overheated nonfiction-film sector, where streamers hungry for low-cost, Tiger King–style hits are commissioning anything and everything—docs on Ted Bundy! Crypto! Abercrombie & Fitch!—creating a bubble of mixed quality and raising certain ethical questions along the way. Finding a great doc has started to feel a little like…well, finding anything on your overstuffed, weirdly undernourished streaming homepages.

But let me say it again: These five Oscar nominees are truly great—they do the magic trick of edifying you with real-world facts while also transporting you with emotionally rich narratives. Their subjects cover geopolitics, activism, love, and heartbreak. Here’s a guide, with some predictions thrown in. Watch as many as you can and join me on the edge of my seat when the winner is read out next month.

All That Breathes
Fire of Love
A House Made of Splinters


Top photo – The fog of war in Ukraine