Oscars 2016: Watch All the Trailers from the Documentary Shortlist

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Photo: HBO, Altitude Film Distribution and Fox Searchlight

Every Oscar season, the focus falls on the top actor races, how many times Meryl Streep has been nominated, and what people might wear to the ceremony. Meanwhile, the award for best documentary of the year is often overlooked; the announcement often coincides with the time during the Oscar party when everyone lines up for the bathroom.

Why is this? Everyone is obsessed with depictions of "real" events through reality television, yet there is little to no interest in seeing real life through a stylized, well-researched, authentic lens. We've talked about the life-changing potential of documentaries before, and still bet that you will be able to find something that will touch you, challenge you, or transform you in this year's Oscars shortlist. Check out the 15 contenders!


An homage to the life of the great Amy Winehouse. Warning: bring tissues.


Best of Enemies

A look back at the 10 acrimonious debates between conservative William F. Buckley Jr. and progressive Gore Vidal during the 1968 Democratic and Republican conventions.

Cartel Land 

The gripping story of vigilantes attempting to fight back against the drug cartels along the Mexico/U.S. border.

Going Clear

An expose on what it's really like to be a Scientology member and what happens when you try to get out.

He Named Me Malala

The story of how Malala survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban to become a teenage activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Heart of a Dog

A trippy journey through death, love and dreams with Laurie Anderson.

The Hunting Ground

An expose of the rape epidemic on college campuses, how the schools attempt to silence the victims, and how these women are beginning to seek justice.

Listen to Me Marlon

Marlon Brando's story in his own words, culled from audio recordings that span his lifetime.

The Look of Silence

A companion piece to Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing, this doc follows a man who confronts his brother's murderers, who were culprits in Indonesia's anti-Communist purge of 1965-1966.


The story of a team of climbers who face life-threatening injuries, avalanches and other dangers to be the first to climb Meru Peak in the Himalayas.

3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets

A little over 3 minutes after 17-year-old Jordan Davis pulled into a gas station, 10 bullets were fired into his car by a middle-aged white man over loud music. This documentary takes a look at what happened that night and everything that unravelled afterwards.

We Come As Friends

South Sudan gained independence from North Sudan and its President Omar al-Bashir, but renewed colonialism threatens to stand in the way of a peaceful future.

What Happened, Miss Simone?

The story of Nina Simone's epic rise, her political awakening and the pain that came with it all.

Where to Invade Next

A new one from Michael Moore, in which he comically "invades" foreign countries to get ideas on how Americans can better deal with social and economic issues.

Winter On Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom

As the name suggests, this is the story of how student protests led to a full-blown Ukrainian revolution in 2014.