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Critics Choice Documentary Awards 2023 Nominees Announced

The Critics Choice Association (CCA) has announced the nominees for the Eighth Annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards (CCDA). The winners will be revealed at a Gala Event on Sunday, November 12, 2023 at The Edison Ballroom in Manhattan. The ceremony will be hosted for the second year in a row by longtime event supporter, actor, and standup comedian Wyatt Cenac.

American Symphony leads the pack with six nominations including in the category of Best Documentary Feature. The film’s other nominations are Matthew Heineman for Best Director, Tony Hardmon, Matthew Heineman, and Thorsten Thielow for Best Cinematography, Sammy Dane, Jim Hession, Matthew Heineman, and Fernando Villegas for Best Editing, Jon Batiste for Best Score, and Best Music Documentary.

20 Days in Mariupol, Kokomo City, and Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie received five nominations each. The nominations for 20 Days in Mariupol are Best Documentary Feature, Best First Documentary Feature, Michelle Mizner for Best Editing, Mstyslav Chernov for Best Narration, and Best Political Documentary. The nominations for Kokomo City are Best Documentary Feature, Best First Documentary Feature, and D. Smith for Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Score. The nominations for Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie are Best Documentary Feature, Davis Guggenheim for Best Director, Michael Harte for Best Editing, Michael J. Fox for Best Narration, and Best Biographical Documentary.

Cenac is an Emmy Award-winning comedian, actor, producer, and writer known for the HBO late-night comedy docuseries Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas. Additional credits include aka Wyatt Cenac, People of the Earth, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He has made four comedy albums: Wyatt Cenac: Comedy Person, the Grammy nominated BrooklynFurry Dumb Fighter, and One Angry Night in November, and hosted the televised stand-up variety series Night Train with Wyatt Cenac. He started his career in animation as a writer for Mike Judge’s King of the Hill, and has served as a consultant for South Park. Every now and again he pops up in a film, most notably Barry Jenkins’ Medicine for Melancholy.

The Critics Choice Documentary Awards will be live-streamed through Facebook, YouTube and X (formerly Twitter). Viewing links will be available on the Critics Choice Association website at 7:00 PM ET on Sunday, November 12.

In addition to the 18 award categories listed below, a prestigious honor, The Pennebaker Award (formerly known as the Critics Choice Lifetime Achievement Award), will be presented to esteemed documentarian Ross McElwee. The award is named for Critics Choice Lifetime Achievement Award winner D A Pennebaker, who passed away in 2019. The award will be presented by Chris Hegedus, Pennebaker’s producing partner and wife.

McElwee has made ten feature-length documentaries as well as a number of shorter films. Sherman’s March has won numerous awards, including Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival. Sherman’s March was also chosen for preservation by the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2000 as a “historically significant American motion picture.” Bright Leaves premiered at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival’s Directors’ Fortnight and was nominated for Best Documentary by both the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America. McElwee’s In Paraguay premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2008, and he returned to Venice in 2011 to premiere Photographic Memory.

In 2005, complete retrospectives of McElwee’s films were presented at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and later in many more cities. McElwee has received fellowships and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Film Institute, the LEF Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. McElwee received the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival’s Career Award in 2007. He is currently a Professor of the Practice of Filmmaking at Harvard University and is working on a documentary about the cable television remake of Sherman’s March.

The Critics Choice Association is honoring the year’s finest achievements in documentaries released in theaters, on TV, and on major digital platforms, as determined by the voting of qualified CCA members. The eighth annual awards ceremony is produced by Bob Bain of Bob Bain Productions and Joey Berlin of Berlin Entertainment.

See also  Critics Choice Super Awards 2022: All The Winners

For the fourth year in a row,  the Critics Choice Documentary Awards welcomes back National Geographic Documentary Films as the Presenting Sponsor.

The Spirits Sponsor of the event is Milagro Tequila.

“We are thrilled with the number of exceptional documentaries released theatrically and on streaming this year and are very excited to introduce an overdue category honoring true crime films and series,” said Christopher Campbell, Vice President of Documentaries of The Critics Choice Association. “This event is about showcasing and celebrating the best in nonfiction, and I want to congratulate all of our nominees and thank them for making us see and think about the world in new ways.”

Carla Renata, Co-President of the Critics Choice Association Documentary Branch added, “We are also thrilled to witness a varied number of nominees spanning subjects represented across all genders (including Transgender Intersex) and genres,  further solidifying the Critics Choice Documentary Awards’ commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion within the documentary landscape.”

At the Seventh Annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards, Good Night Oppy took home five trophies in all including the top award of the evening for Best Documentary Feature. The film’s other victories were Best Director for Ryan White, Best Score for Blake Neely, as well as Best Narration (written by Helen Kearns and Ryan White, performed by Angela Bassett), and Best Science/Nature Documentary.

 

Nominees for the 8th Annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards
Presented by National Geographic Documentary Films

 

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

20 Days in Mariupol (PBS)
American Symphony (Netflix)
Beyond Utopia (Roadside Attractions)
The Deepest Breath (Netflix)
The Eternal Memory (MTV Documentary Films)
Judy Blume Forever (Amazon Studios)
Kokomo City (Magnolia Pictures)
The Mission (National Geographic)
Stamped from the Beginning (Netflix)
Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie (Apple TV+)

 

BEST DIRECTOR

Maite Alberdi – The Eternal Memory (MTV Documentary Films)
Madeleine Gavin – Beyond Utopia (Roadside Attractions)
Davis Guggenheim – Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie (Apple TV+)
Matthew Heineman – American Symphony (Netflix)
Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss – The Mission (National Geographic)
Steve McQueen – Occupied City (A24)

See also  Critics’ Choice Real TV Awards Nominees Announced

 

BEST FIRST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

20 Days in Mariupol (PBS)
26.2 to Life (Film Halau)
Bad Press (Oklafilm)
Bobi Wine: The People’s President (National Geographic)
Kokomo City (Magnolia Pictures)
Orlando, My Political Biography (Sideshow)
Smoke Sauna Sisterhood (Greenwich Entertainment)
The Thief Collector (FilmRise)

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Tim Cragg – The Deepest Breath (Netflix)
Tony Hardmon, Matthew Heineman, Thorsten Thielow – American Symphony (Netflix)
Lennert Hillege – Occupied City (A24)
Franz Lustig – Anselm (Sideshow)
D. Smith – Kokomo City (Magnolia Pictures)
Toby Strong, James Boon, Bob Poole, Neil Fairlie, Wim Vorster, Joshua Tarr, Pete Allibone, Neil Harvey, Andreas Knausenberger – Secrets of the Elephants (National Geographic)

 

BEST EDITING

Sammy Dane, Jim Hession, Matthew Heineman, Fernando Villegas – American Symphony (Netflix)
Madeleine Gavin – Beyond Utopia (Roadside Attractions)
Michael Harte – Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie (Apple TV+
Michelle Mizner – 20 Days in Mariupol (PBS)
D. Smith – Kokomo City (Magnolia Pictures)
Aaron Wickenden – The Mission (National Geographic)

 

BEST SCORE

Jon Batiste – American Symphony (Netflix)
Danny Bensi & Saunder Jurriaans – The Mission (National Geographic)
Nainita Desai – The Deepest Breath (Netflix)
Philip Glass – The Pigeon Tunnel (Apple TV+)
Katya Richardson & Kris Bowers – The Last Repair Shop (Breakwater Studios)
D. Smith – Kokomo City (Magnolia Pictures)

 

BEST NARRATION

20 Days in Mariupol (PBS)
Written and Performed by Mstyslav Chernov

32 Sounds (Abramorama)
Written and Performed by Sam Green

The Disappearance of Shere Hite (IFC Films)
Written by Nicole Newnham
Performed by Dakota Johnson

John Lennon: Murder Without a Trial (Apple TV+)
Performed by Kiefer Sutherland

Secrets of the Elephants (National Geographic)
Written by Martin Williams
Performed by Natalie Portman

Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie (Apple TV+)
Written and Performed by Michael J. Fox

 

BEST ARCHIVAL DOCUMENTARY

Being Mary Tyler Moore (HBO | Max)
The Disappearance of Shere Hite (IFC Films)
It Ain’t Over (Sony Pictures Classics)
JFK: One Day in America (National Geographic)
The Lady Bird Diaries (Hulu)
The League (Magnolia Pictures)

 

BEST HISTORICAL DOCUMENTARY

The 1619 Project (Hulu/Onyx Collective)
JFK: One Day in America (National Geographic)
The Lady Bird Diaries (Hulu)
Lakota Nation vs. United States (IFC Films)
The League (Magnolia Pictures)
Occupied City (A24)
Stamped from the Beginning (Netflix)

 

BEST BIOGRAPHICAL DOCUMENTARY

Being Mary Tyler Moore (HBO | Max)
The Disappearance of Shere Hite (IFC Films)
Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project (HBO Documentary Films)
Judy Blume Forever (Amazon Studios)
Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields (Hulu)
Sly (Netflix)
Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie (Apple TV+)

 

BEST MUSIC DOCUMENTARY

American Symphony (Netflix)
Carlos (Sony Pictures Classics)
Ladies First: A Story of Women in Hip-Hop (Netflix)
Little Richard: I Am Everything (Magnolia Pictures/CNN Films)
Love to Love You, Donna Summer (HBO | Max)
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (AMC Theatres)
What the Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears? (Abramorama)

See also  CCA to Honor Chadwick Boseman at Celebration of Black Cinema

 

BEST POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY

20 Days in Mariupol (PBS)
Beyond Utopia (Roadside Attractions)
Bobi Wine: The People’s President (National Geographic)
Deadlocked: How America Shaped the Supreme Court (Showtime)
Every Body (Focus Features)
Lakota Nation vs. United States (IFC Films)
Silver Dollar Road (Amazon MGM Studios)

 

BEST SCIENCE/NATURE DOCUMENTARY

32 Sounds (Abramorama)
Between Earth & Sky (PBS)
Life on Our Planet (Netflix)
Path of the Panther (National Geographic)
Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food (Netflix)
Secrets of the Elephants (National Geographic)
Wild Beauty: Mustang Spirit of the West (Gravitas Ventures)

 

BEST SPORTS DOCUMENTARY

Black Ice (Roadside Attractions)
BS High (HBO | Max)
The Deepest Breath (Netflix)
It Ain’t Over (Sony Pictures Classics)
The League (Magnolia Pictures)
Reggie (Amazon Studios)
Stephen Curry: Underrated (Apple TV+)
Welcome to Wrexham (FX)

 

BEST TRUE CRIME DOCUMENTARY

Burden of Proof (HBO | Max)
The Jewel Thief (Hulu)
John Lennon: Murder Without a Trial (Apple TV+)
Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal (Netflix)
Telemarketers (HBO | Max)
The Thief Collector (FilmRise)
Victim/Suspect (Netflix)

 

BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY

The ABCs of Book Banning (MTV Documentary Films)
The Barber of Little Rock (Story Syndicate)
Between Earth & Sky (PBS)
Keys to the City (New Yorker)
The Last Repair Shop (Breakwater Studios)
Last Song From Kabul (MTV Documentary Films)

 

BEST LIMITED DOCUMENTARY SERIES

The 1619 Project (Hulu/Onyx Collective)
Big Vape: The Rise and Fall of Juul (Netflix)
Deadlocked: How America Shaped the Supreme Court (Showtime)
JFK: One Day in America (National Geographic)
John Lennon: Murder Without a Trial (Apple TV+)
Secrets of the Elephants (National Geographic)
Shiny Happy People (Amazon Studios)
Telemarketers (HBO | Max)

 

BEST ONGOING DOCUMENTARY SERIES

30 for 30 (ESPN)
Frontline (PBS)
Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal (Netflix)
POV (PBS)
Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller (National Geographic)
Welcome to Wrexham (FX)

 

About the Critics Choice Awards

The Critics Choice Documentary Awards are an offshoot of the Critics Choice Awards, which are bestowed annually by the CCA to honor the finest in cinematic and television achievement. Historically, the Critics Choice Awards are the most accurate predictor of Academy Award nominations.

The Critics Choice Awards ceremony will be held on January 14, 2024 at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Century City, CA, and will be broadcast live on The CW.

 

About the Critics Choice Association (CCA) 

The Critics Choice Association is the largest critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 580 media critics and entertainment journalists. It was established in 2019 with the formal merger of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, in recognition of the intersection between film, television, and streaming content. For more information, visit: www.CriticsChoice.com.

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By Sammi Turano

Sammi has been a journalist for over a decade, specializing in entertainment, lifestyle, sports and celebrity news. She is the owner of TVGrapevine and Football in High Heels and the Host of Grapevine in High Heels With Sammi.

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