The full list of nominations for the 88th Academy Awards won’t be announced until January 14. We can busy ourselves until then by catching up on all the great films from 2015 we may have missed, but even so, that leaves a huge pool of eligible films to sort through. (Not to mention the innumerable standouts worthy of attention, but without the public profile or studio backing to mount a serious Oscar campaign.) What with the impending holidays and the looming terror of gift-buying, protracted periods of family time, and the depressive episodes inevitably provoked by a lack of daylight, staying abreast of the best of the best can be a real test.
Luckily, in a few select categories, the Oscars give awards junkies the vaguest idea of where to start. In the weeks preceding the official nominations announcement, some categories unveil “shortlists,” groups of films in consideration from which five will be selected as contenders for the top prize. In the Animated, Foreign, and now the Documentary races, the lineup of pictures in contention for the nominations have been made public knowledge. So sit back and let us separate the wheat from the chaff, making the most educated guesses possible on which chosen few will break out, and which might be worth a look either way.