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A Surprisingly Competitive Oscar Category: Documentaries47:43

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Oscar-nominated documentaries, all over race and immigration. Plus: A remembrance of Mary Tyler Moore.

The posters of the nominated documentary film features in 2017. (Courtesy the Studios)
The posters of the nominated documentary film features in 2017. (Courtesy the Studios)

Oscar nominations out this week. Big numbers for "La La Land," "Moonlight," "Arrival." "Hacksaw Ridge."  "Manchester by the Sea." "Lion." But the most competitive category this year – unusually – may be documentaries. It’s a strong crop. "Fire at Sea," on the perils of migration. "13th" and "I Am Not Your Negro" on race. "OJ," on OJ – and race. "Life, Animated" on an autistic son, freed, brought to life, by Disney movies. This hour On Point, the Oscar-nominated documentaries, and a last word for Mary Tyler Moore. — Tom Ashbrook


Shawn Edwards, film critic for FOX 4 News in Kansas City, MO. Co-founder of the African American Film Critics Association. (@sedwardskc)

Anne Thompson, editor-at-large at IndieWire. Author of the book, "The $11 Billion Year." (@akstanwyck)

Ralph Beliveau, associate professor of creative media studies at the University of Oklahoma. (@ralphbeliveau)

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: How three best documentary Oscar nominees capture our history of racial division -- "As the nation’s racial and political divisions have grown increasingly conspicuous, three of the five films up for the best documentary feature Oscar show that these divides have been here all along."

Los Angeles Times: The documentary category makes history, but not without Oscar controversy — "Oscar voters on Tuesday announced their nominations for top nonfiction films of the year. And for the first time in what is believed to be any category in the history of the awards, four of five nominated films were made by a black director."

Variety: Oscar Odds Stacked Against Documentary Directors — "In the nearly 75 years since the Oscars began awarding a documentary feature, no non-fiction filmmaker has ever been nominated for director, despite being eligible for the prize."

Academy Award Nominees For Best Documentary Feature (2017)

"Fire at Sea"

"I Am Not Your Negro"

"Life, Animated"

"O.J.: Made In America"


Remembering Mary Tyler Moore

Stephanie Coontz, professor of history and family studies at Evergreen State College.

This program aired on January 27, 2017.

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