Barack and Michelle Obama’s Netflix documentary American Symphony failed to earn an Oscar nomination in the documentary feature category on Tuesday despite the widely held industry belief that it would not only be nominated but was also the frontrunner to actually win.
Michelle Obama even campaigned for the movie, appearing at a special Netflix screening last month.
American Symphony, which Netflix released in November, was considered one of the safest bets going into Tuesday’s announcement of the 94th annual Academy Award nominations. Its failure to earn a documentary nomination was one of the morning’s biggest surprises, with the category’s nominating committee preferring lesser-known titles.
But American Symphony was not entirely shut out: the movie earned a nomination for original song — “It Never Went Away” by Jon Batiste and Dan Wilson.
The documentary follows singer-songwriter Jon Batiste as he seeks to write an orchestral symphony while also dealing with his wife’s return cancer diagnosis. The movie was directed by Matthew Heineman, whose other documentaries include Cartel Land and Retrograde.
Barack and Michelle Obama produced American Symphony through their ongoing deal with Netflix. Their documentary American Factory won the Oscar for documentary feature in 2020.
On Tuesday, the Oscars also snubbed another documentary favorite: Apple’s Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, focusing on the Back to the Future star’s decades-long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.