2023 Oscars Best Documentary Short Predictions

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LAST UPDATED: Dec. 22, 2022

2023 Oscars Predictions: Best Documentary Short

CATEGORY COMMENTARY: It’s an eclectic mixture of short films in the running for the documentary short race.

The New Yorker’s “Nuisance Bear” is among the most acclaimed, making multiple stops at festivals and picking up various trophies.

Frank Chi’s “38 at the Garden,” looking at the cultural impact of Jeremy Lin during his season on the New York Knicks, is a favorite in the race, especially with Oscar-winner Trayvon Free (“Two Distant Strangers”) onboard as one of the producers.

Heartfelt tales such as “Holding Moses” are heavily featured, focusing on a woman dealing with grief and trying to connect with her disabled son. Jay Rosenblatt’s “How Do You Measure a Year,” who filmed himself asking his daughter from the age of two to 18, asking her daughter – what do you dream about? what scares you? what do you think about our relationship? The movie will surely strike a chord if you’re a family person.

You can never count out Netflix with a pair of movies in the discussion — Kartiki Gonsalves’ “The Elephant Whisperers” and Anne Alvergue and Debra McClutchy’s “The Martha Mitchell Effect.”

See the latest film predictions, in all 23 categories, in one place on Variety’s Oscars Collective. To see the ranked predictions for each individual category, visit Variety’s Oscars Hub.

See the 2022-2023 Awards Season calendar for all key dates and timelines.


An image from “Holding Moses”

And The Predicted Nominees Are:
Rank Name Director(s) & Producer(s) Distributor(s)
1 “Holding Moses” Rivkah Beth Medow (director), Jen Rainin (producer) Frankly Speaking Films
A Broadway performer becomes a mother, braiding rhythm and grief and time and joy on her path to connect with her profoundly disabled son.
2 “Nuisance Bear” Gabriela Osio Vanden, Jack Weisman The New Yorker
Churchill, Manitoba, is famous as an international destination for photographing polar bears. We’ve seen the majestic images and classic wildlife TV programs – but what does the bear see of us? ‘Nuisance Bear’ shifts the perspective to reveal the obstacle course of tourist paparazzi and wildlife officers that bears navigate during their annual migration.
3 “38 at the Garden” Frank Chi (director), Trayvon Free, Samir Hernandez (producers) HBO Max
Follows the cultural impact of NBA trailblazer Jeremy Lin during his 2011-12 season with the New York Knicks and the cultural phenomenon known as “Linsanity”.
4 “As Far as They Can Run” Tanaz Eshaghian (director, producer), Christoph Jörg (producer) MTV Documentary Films
Three young adults join a running program for disabled youth in Pakistan, hoping to shift perspectives in their rural community.
5 “How Do You Measure a Year? Jay Rosenblatt Jay Rosenblatt Films
From the time she was two-years-old and until she turned 18, they had a ritual: Dad asked (and filmed), and Ella answered. What do you dream about? What scares you? What do you think about our relationship? This is a little story about growing up and the love between father and daughter.
Next in Line
6 “Angola Do You Hear Us? Voices from a Plantation Prison” Cinque Northern Aubin Pictures
Angola Do You Hear Us? Voices from a Plantation Prison gives us a window into playwright Liza Jessie Peterson’s performance in 2020 of her acclaimed play The Peculiar Patriot performed at Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary, said to be America’s largest prison.
7 “The Martha Mitchell Effect” Anne Alvergue (director), Beth Levison, Judith Mizrachy (producers) Netflix
The Cabinet wife who spoke out during Watergate and the Nixon administration’s campaign to gaslight her into silence.
8 “The Elephant Whisperers” Kartiki Gonsalves Netflix
The Elephant Whisperers’ follows an indigenous couple as they fall in love with Raghu, an orphaned elephant given into their care, and tirelessly work to ensure his survival. The film highlights the beauty of the wild spaces in South India and the people and animals who share this space
9 “Anastasia” Sarah McCarthy MBK Productions
A woman whose resistance to the Putin regime comes at a terrible cost.
10 “American Justice on Trial: People v. Newton” Herb Ferrette, Andrew Abrahams Open Eye Pictures
The film tells the forgotten story of the death penalty case that put racism on trial in a U.S. courtroom in the fall of 1968.
Also In Contention
“The Flagmakers” Sharon Liese, Cynthia Wade National Geographic Documentary Films
“Happiness Is £4 Million” Weixi Chen, Kai Wei TripodMedia
“Haulout” Maxim Arbugaev, Evgenia Arbugaeva Albireo Films
“Shut Up and Paint” Titus Kaphar, Alex Mallis DCTV
“Stranger at the Gate” Joshua Seftel The New Yorker

2023 Academy Awards Predictions


The 95th Oscars ceremony will be held at the Dolby Theatre and televised live on ABC on Sunday, March 12, 2022.

2022 category winner: “The Queen of Basketball” (The New York Times) – Ben Proudfoot

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