4 Oscar-Nominated Netflix Documentaries You Can’t Miss

by Alyssa Oursler | January 28, 2014 9:57 am

If you love Netflix (NFLX[1]), you should also love awards season. Why? Well, it should make choosing the best Netflix streaming movies and shows a bit easier.

best-netflix-documentaries-oscar-nominated-moviesI became a House of Cards fans after it racked up awards (and after enough of my friends peer-pressured me to get into it). Similarly, if you’re trying to decide which flicks are the best Netflix documentaries available on streaming, for example, an Oscar nomination seems like a pretty reliable stamp of approval.

Of course, if you want to watch Oscar-nominated movies like Gravity and 12 Years a Slave — both up for “Best Picture” — you’re going to have to hope they’re screened at a movie theater near you.

But if you prefer non-fiction Oscar-nominated movies, you’re in luck. Just plop on your couch, scroll through the list of streaming Netflix documentaries and you’ll find all but one of the Oscar-nominated movies up for “Best Documentary Feature” right there.

With that in mind, here’s a look at four of the best Netflix documentaries (and arguably some of the best Netflix streaming movies period) to watch before the Oscars air on Mar. 2. We’ve also tossed in each film’s odds of actually taking home the award, according to Gold Derby[2].

Oscar-Nominated Netflix Documentaries – The Square

best-netflix-documentaries-oscar-nominated-moviesGold Derby Odds – 12:1

Netflix Streaming Synopsis: As the Egyptian Revolution unfolds, this 2014 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature immerses the viewer in the intense emotional drama of young people on the streets of Cairo claiming their rights and creating a society of conscience.

The Square leads our list of the best Netflix documentaries for one obvious reason: It’s the first Netflix Original to snag an Oscar nomination … making it one of the best Netflix documentaries in a much more literal sense. Of course, it’s not like Netflix is a complete stranger to big-time awards. The original Netflix TV show House of Cards snagged a trio of Emmys and a Golden Globe … but this is the first original Netflix streaming movie to earn an Oscar nomination.

Oscar-Nominated Netflix Documentaries – Cutie and the Boxer

best-netflix-documentaries-oscar-nominated-moviesGold Derby Odds – 100:1

Netflix Streaming Synopsis: Nominated for the 2014 Best Documentary Oscar, this film explores the work and marriage of Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, who took America’s art scene by storm after leaving Japan for New York.

Out of the five Oscar-nominated movies in this category, Cutie and the Boxer is the longshot … with a mere 1% chance of winning according to the experts. Still, the mere fact that it’s up for the award sends it right to the top of any list of best Netflix documentaries … and probably to the top of any list of best Netflix streaming movies.

Oscar-Nominated Netflix Documentaries – The Act of Killing

best-netflix-documentaries-oscar-nominated-moviesGold Derby Odds – 11:8

Netflix Streaming Synopsis: This Oscar-nominated documentary recalls the bloody era in Indonesia when pro-government death squads slaughtered more than a million suspected communists as two ex-squad leaders reenact their atrocities for the filmmakers.

When it comes to the best Netflix documentaries, we just went from underdog to favorite … kind of. Out of all the Oscar-nominated movies up for “Best Documentary Feature” and available on Netflix streaming, The Act of Killing is the expert favorite. But 20 Feet From Stardom, which is still in its theatrical release and thus not yet available on Netflix streaming, is also a contender — Gold Derby sets its odds at 11:10.

Either one could walk away with the award, making them both worth your time.

Oscar-Nominated Netflix Documentaries – Dirty Wars

best-netflix-documentaries-oscar-nominated-moviesGold Derby Odds – 50:1

Netflix Streaming Synopsis: In this Oscar-nominated documentary, investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill explores America’s covert operations in the war on terror including drone strikes, night raids, kill lists that include U.S. citizens and government-condoned torture.

If you prefer to cover American warfare as opposed to foreign warfare, Dirty Wars is definitely one of the best Netflix streaming movies for you. Sure, its odds of beating the other Oscar-nominated movies in its category aren’t great, and some critics aren’t fans of Scahill’s film-making methods. But at the end of the day, it’s still one of the best Netflix documentaries to check out today, and the general response to the movie has been positive — from critics and viewers alike.

Alyssa Oursler is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace. As of this writing, she did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

  1. NFLX: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=NFLX
  2. Gold Derby: http://www.goldderby.com/stats/experts/oscars-2013/best-documentary-feature.html

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