American Symphony, which explores a year in a life of musician Jon Batiste; Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, which traces the life story of the beloved actor who is living with Parkinson’s disease; and Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy, about the making of the classic film which won the 1969 Oscar for best picture, are among 15 documentaries shortlisted for best documentary feature film.
Batiste has won five Grammys and an Oscar in the past few years – and is nominated for six more Grammys at the Feb. 4 ceremony. Matthew Heineman directed the film. Fox received a honorary Oscar at last year’s Governors Awards.
A total of 167 films were eligible for best documentary feature. Members of the documentary branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences voted to determine the shortlist, which was announced on Thursday (Dec. 21). They will vote again to determine the nominees, which will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 23. The 96th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 10 at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood.
The shortlist also includes 32 Sounds, which explores the phenomenon of sound; Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project, about the famed poet; and Bobi Wine: The People’s President, which follows Ugandan opposition leader, activist and musical star Bobi Wine, who used his music to fight the regime led by Yoweri Museveni.
Many music docs failed to make the shortlist, including Carlos (about Carlos Santana); Elis & Tom – It Had to Be You (about the 1974 album by Elis Regina and Antônio Carlos Jobim); Have You Got It Yet? The Story of Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd; Immediate Family (about musicians who played behind Carole King and James Taylor, among others); Joan Baez I Am a Noise; Little Richard: I Am Everything; Mr. Jimmy (about a Japanese guitarist who is a superfan of Jimmy Page); Music Is My Life – Dr. Joseph Shabalala and Ladysmith Black Mambazo; Rewind & Play (about Thelonious Monk); What the Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears?; and Yoshiki Under the Sky (about the Japanese composer and artist)
Films submitted in the documentary feature film category may also qualify for Academy Awards in other categories, including best picture. Documentary features that have been submitted in the international feature film category as their country’s official selection are also eligible in this category.
The Academy today announced shortlists in nine other categories: documentary short film, international feature film, makeup and hairstyling, best original song, best original score, animated short film, live action short film, sound and visual effects.
Here are the 15 films that are shortlisted for the 2024 Oscar for best documentary feature film. The films are listed in alphabetical order.
Bobi Wine: The People’s President
Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy
The Eternal Memory
Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project
In the Rearview
Stamped from the Beginning
Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie
A Still Small Voice
To Kill a Tiger
20 Days in Mariupol