How to Watch Every Documentary That’s Short-Listed for an Oscar This Year

Forget Aquaman and Avengers. Superheroes movies might have had big box offices grosses, but by some measures, 2018 was the year of the documentary. Movies like Won’t You Be My Neighbor and Three Identical Strangers were surprise hits. Now, several of the year’s most popular non-fiction films are in the running for an Oscar.

The Oscar 2019 shortlist for best documentary feature

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the shortlist of documentaries on December 18. Here are the 15 potential nominees for best feature-length documentary:

  • Charm City
  • Communion
  • Crime + Punishment
  • Dark Money
  • The Distant Barking of Dogs
  • Free Solo
  • Hale Country This Morning, This Evening
  • Minding the Gap
  • Of Fathers and Sons
  • On Her Shoulders
  • RBG
  • Shirkers
  • The Silence of Others
  • Three Identical Strangers
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Where to watch this year’s best documentaries


If you want to catch up on this year’s Oscar contenders over the upcoming holiday weekend, you’re in luck. Many – though not all — are already available to stream. Here’s where you can watch the documentaries that have been shortlisted for a 2019 Oscar.

Charm City: You’ll have to wait until April 2019 to watch this Marilyn Ness film chronicling three years of violence in Baltimore. That’s when it premieres on PBS. Otherwise, it’s screening in select cities around the U.S.

Communion: A teenage girl in Poland struggles to keep her family together in this film from Anna Zamecka, which Variety called a “compelling slice of life.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be available on DVD or streaming in the U.S.

Crime + Punishment: This critically acclaimed documentary is about a dozen cops, all black or Latino, who fought back against the NYPD’s illegal quota system for arrests or summons. It’s currently streaming on Hulu.

Dark Money: This real-life political thriller directed by Kimberly Reed looks at the role corporate donations play in elections following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. PBS Passport members can watch the film online for free; it’s also streaming for free on Amazon Prime.

The Distant Barking of Dogs: The war in Eastern Ukraine is seen through the eyes of a 10-year-old boy living on the frontlines in this movie. At the moment, it’s not available on DVD or streaming in the U.S.

Free Solo: In 2017, Alex Honnold became the first person to complete a free solo ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. The harrowing climb is depicted in this movie. It’s still in theaters. Starting January 11, it will screen in Imax.

Hale County This Morning, This Evening: A collection of “intimate and unencumbered moments” of two African American men living in the rural South. It will air on February 11, 2019, on PBS’s Independent Lens.

Minding the Gap: Bing Liu directed this documentary about three skateboarders navigating the transition from childhood to adulthood in Rockford, Illinois. The movie, which has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, is on Hulu.

Of Fathers and Sons: Syrian filmmaker Talal Derki offers a glimpse inside a radical Islamist household, in this movie that Variety called “chilling.” It’s currently in theaters.

On Her Shoulders: Alexandria Bombach directed this movie about Nadia Murad, a survivor of the Yazidi genocide who was imprisoned and raped by members of ISIS. You can rent it on Amazon Prime or Vudu for $3.99.

RBG: The first of two movies about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to hit theaters in 2019 (the other is On the Basis of Sex, starring Felicity Jones), this popular documentary is streaming on Hulu and available to rent on Amazon Prime, Google Play, and YouTube.

Shirkers: As a teenager in Singapore, Sandi Tan wrote a feminist slasher road movie. Then the director, an older American teacher, vanished with the footage before the movie could be completed. This documentary, which is streaming on Netflix, chronicles her attempts to find out what happened to the film.

The Silence of Others: Victims of Spain’s dictatorial Franco regime speak out in this documentary. Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar directed the movie, which hits theaters in Spring 2019.

Three Identical Strangers: The story of three identical triplets who were separated at birth became an unlikely box office success this summer. You can rent it on Amazon Prime, Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?: This moving portrait of the life of Fred Rogers became the 12thhighest-grossing of documentary of all time after it was released this year. It’s available to rent on Amazon Prime and other streaming services. Be sure you have Kleenex handy.

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