The perilous attempt by climber Alex Honnold to become the first person ever to scale and solo climb Yosemite’s 3000 foot high El Capitan Mountain with no ropes or safety gear is chronicled in the documentary Free Solo, a film that has climbed the list of nominees with six nods (and one honor) for the 2018 Critics Choice Documentary Awards. The awards take place on Saturday November 10 in Brooklyn.

Bing Liu’s skateboarding docu, Minding The Gap, and the Emmy winning Netflix limited docu series Wild Wild Country follow with five nominations each. All three films are nominated in the Best Documentary category which  includes  theatrical features and streaming/television entries.

In what has been an outstanding year for docus, both critically and at the box office, three films that have earned big dollars in theaters are also well represented on the list – Morgan Neville’s poignant Mr. Rogers docu, Won’t You Be My Neighbor garnering four nods, Neon’s highly praised Three Identical Strangers, and the Ruth Bader Ginsburg docu RBG. Each received three mentions. All compete in Best Documentary field of 10 nominees that also includes Crime + Punishment; Dark Money; the Hal Ashby biopic docu Hal;  and Hitler’s Hollywood. 

The critics spread their choices out in 12 different categories crossing different subject matter, from sports to politics to music, as well as television series. Among the “most compelling living subject of a documentary” nominees are Ginsburg, Honnold, 95 year old Scotty Bowers from Scotty and the Secret History Of Hollywood, Joan Jett, Quincy Jones, John McEnroe, Stanley Kubrick assistant Leon Vitali in Filmworker, and long-lost brothers David Kellman and Bobby Shafran in Three Identical Strangers. All of them will be honored at the event which will again take place at New York’s BRIC.

Three Identical Strangers
NEON

At the gala ceremony, filmmaker Stanley Nelson will be presented with the Critics’ Choice Impact Award. And as previously announced, multi award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore will be honored with the Critics’ Choice Lifetime Achievement Award.

For the first year, the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards has introduced the Catalyst Sponsorship, a program for industry leaders to support the event. The inaugural sponsors include Focus Features, National Geographic Documentary Films, Netflix, Curiosity Stream, and others.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this year’s outstanding documentary work at the upcoming event,” said Broadcast Film Critics Association President Joey Berlin. “The year 2018 has been called ‘The Year of the Documentary’ and we are so happy to give these films and shows the recognition and high praise that they deserve.”

BFCA

The Critics’ Choice Awards are determined by qualified members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), and feature multiple categories across both television and film. Qualified members of BFCA and BTJA will choose the winners from amongst the nominees in voting from November 7 – November 9.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a member of the BFCA and was on the selection committee determining several of the nominees including in the Best Documentary category.

The nominees for the third annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards are:

 BEST DOCUMENTARY

Crime + Punishment – Director: Stephen Maing (Hulu)

Dark Money – Director: Kimberly Reed (PBS)

Free Solo – Directors: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (National Geographic Documentary Films)

Hal – Director: Amy Scott (Oscilloscope)

Hitler’s Hollywood – Director: Rüdiger Suchsland (Kino Lorber)

Minding the Gap – Director: Bing Liu (Hulu)

RBG – Directors: Julie Cohen, Betsy West (Magnolia Pictures, Participant Media)

Three Identical Strangers – Director: Tim Wardle (Neon, CNN Films)

Wild Wild Country – Directors: Chapman Way, Maclain Way (Netflix)

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – Director: Morgan Neville (Focus Features)

 

BEST LIMITED DOCUMENTARY SERIES

America to Me (Starz)

Dirty Money (Netflix)

Elvis Presley: The Searcher (HBO Documentary Films, Sony Pictures Television)

Flint Town (Netflix)

One Strange Rock (National Geographic)

The Fourth Estate (Showtime Networks)

The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling (HBO)

Wild Wild Country (Netflix)

 

BEST ONGOING DOCUMENTARY SERIES

30 for 30 (ESPN)

American Masters (PBS)

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (CNN)

Frontline (PBS)

Independent Lens (PBS)

Making a Murderer (Netflix)

POV (PBS)

The History of Comedy (CNN)

 

BEST DIRECTOR

Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi – Free Solo (National Geographic Documentary Film)

Bing Liu – Minding the Gap (Hulu)

Morgan Neville – Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Focus Features)

Kimberly Reed – Dark Money (PBS)

Rüdiger Suchsland – Hitler’s Hollywood (Kino Lorber)

Tim Wardle – Three Identical Strangers (Neon, CNN Films)

 

BEST FIRST TIME DIRECTOR

Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster – Science Fair (National Geographic Documentary Films)

Heather Lenz – Kusama – Infinity (Magnolia Pictures)

Bing Liu – Minding the Gap (Hulu)

Stephen Nomura Schible – Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda (MUBI)

Rudy Valdez – The Sentence (HBO Documentary Films)

Chapman Way and Maclain Way – Wild Wild Country (Netflix)

 

BEST POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY

RBG – Directors: Julie Cohen, Betsy West (Magnolia Pictures, Participant Media)

Dark Money – Director: Kimberly Reed (PBS)

Fahrenheit 11/9 – Director: Michael Moore (Briarcliff Entertainment)

Flint Town – Directors: Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper, Jessica Dimmock (Netflix)

Hitler’s Hollywood – Director: Rüdiger Suchsland (Kino Lorber)

John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls – Directors: George Kunhardt, Peter W. Kunhardt, Teddy Kunhardt (HBO)

The Fourth Estate – Directors: Liz Garbus, Jenny Carchman (Showtime Networks)

 

BEST SPORTS DOCUMENTARY

Andre the Giant – Director: Jason Hehir (HBO)

Being Serena (HBO)

Free Solo – Directors: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (National Geographic Documentary Film)

John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection – Director: Julien Faraut (Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Minding the Gap – Director: Bing Liu (Hulu)

The Workers Cup – Director: Adam Sobel (Passion River)

 

BEST MUSIC DOCUMENTARY

Bad Reputation – Director: Kevin Kerslake (Magnolia Pictures)

David Bowie: The Last Five Years – Director: Francis Whately (HBO Documentary Films)

Elvis Presley: The Searcher – Director: Thom Zimny (HBO Documentary Films, Sony Pictures Television)

Lynyrd Skynyrd: If I Leave Here Tomorrow – Director: Stephen Kijak (Showtime Networks)

Quincy – Directors: Alan Hicks, Rashida Jones (Netflix)

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda – Director: Stephen Nomura Schible (MUBI)

Whitney – Director: Kevin Macdonald (Roadside Attractions, Miramax)

 

MOST COMPELLING LIVING SUBJECT OF A DOCUMENTARY

(ALL LISTED IN THE CATEGORY WILL BE HONORED AT THE EVENT)

Scotty Bowers – Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (Greenwich Entertainment, Kino Lorber, Starz!)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg – RBG (Magnolia Pictures, Participant Media)

Alex Honnold – Free Solo (National Geographic Documentary Film)

Joan Jett – Bad Reputation (Magnolia Pictures)

Quincy Jones – Quincy (Netflix)

David Kellman and Bobby Shafran – Three Identical Strangers (Neon, CNN Films)

John McEnroe – John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection (Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Leon Vitali – Filmworker (Kino Lorber)

 

MOST INNOVATIVE DOCUMENTARY

306 Hollywood – Directors: Elan Bogarin, Jonathan Bogarin (PBS, El Tigre)

Free Solo – Directors: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (National Geographic Documentary Film)

Hitler’s Hollywood – Director: Rüdiger Suchsland (Kino Lorber)

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda – Director: Stephen Nomura Schible (MUBI)

Wild Wild Country – Directors: Chapman Way, Maclain Way (Netflix)

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – Director: Morgan Neville (Focus Features)

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

306 Hollywood – Cinematographers: Elan Bogarin, Jonathan Bogarin, Alejandro Mejía (PBS, El Tigre)

The Dawn Wall – Cinematographer: Brett Lowell (The Orchard)

Free Solo – Cinematographers: Jimmy Chin, Clair Popkin, Mikey Schaefer (National Geographic Documentary Film)

Minding the Gap – Cinematographer: Bing Liu (Hulu)

Pandas – Cinematographer: David Douglas (Warner Brothers)

Wild Wild Country – Cinematographer: Adam Stone (Netflix)

 

BEST EDITING

Dark Money – Editor: Jay Arthur Sterrenberg (PBS)

Filmworker – Editor: Tony Zierra (Kino Lorber)

Free Solo – Editor: Bob Eisenhardt (National Geographic Documentary Film)

John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection – Editor: Julien Faraut (Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Three Identical Strangers – Editor: Michael Harte (Neon, CNN Films)

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – Editors: Jeff Malmberg, Aaron Wickenden (Focus Features)