Critics' Choice Doc Awards: 'Biggest Little Farm,' AOC Film 'Knock Down the House,' Obama-Backed 'American Factory' Among Nominees

9:00 AM 10/14/2019

by Katherine Schaffstall

'Leaving Neverland,' 'Apollo 11,' 'One Child Nation,' 'They Shall Not Grow Old,' 'The Cave' and 'Aquarela' are among the other high-profile titles up for awards at the Brooklyn ceremony, set to take place on Sunday, Nov. 10.

The Biggest Little Farm Still 1- TIFF Publicity-H 2018
Courtesy of TIFF

The nominees for the fourth annual Critics' Choice Documentary Awards were announced Monday.

The Biggest Little Farm leads this year's nominations with seven, including for documentary feature, director, cinematography, editing, score, narration and science/nature documentary.

Apollo 11 and They Shall Not Grow Old follow closely behind with six noms each, with both being featured in the documentary feature and director categories.

One Child Nation received five mentions, including for documentary feature, director, editing, narration and political documentary.

Meanwhile, The Cave, Honeyland, American Factory, Aquarela and Sea of Shadows all received four noms each.

In addition to handing out awards including best first documentary feature, archival documentary, music documentary, sports documentary, most innovative documentary and most compelling living subjects of a documentary, the Critics' Choice Documentary Awards will also honor filmmaker Frederick Wiseman with the D.A. Pennebaker Award. The prize, which was formerly known as the Critics’ Choice Lifetime Achievement Award, is named after the legendary documentarian, who died in August.

Acclaimed director Michael Apted will receive the Landmark Award for his extraordinary and unparalleled achievement with the Up series. Apted just added 63 Up to this historic filmography.

"As the film and television industry constantly evolves, documentaries remain a vibrant creative art form that entertains as well as informs," CCA CEO Joey Berlin said Monday in a statement. "The CCA has the privilege to publicly support and celebrate the outstanding work of these artists, while at the same time providing media consumers with help in making informed and smart choices as they face more decisions about 'what to watch' than ever before. We are proud that our awards event has become a valuable way to help people ‘find the good stuff’ and to help filmmakers find their audiences."

The 2019 Critics' Choice Documentary Awards winners will be announced Sunday, Nov. 10, at a gala event at BRIC in Brooklyn. Property Brothers star Jonathan Scott will serve as host.

A full list of nominees follows.

  • Best Documentary

    American Factory (Netflix)
    Apollo 11 (Neon)
    The Biggest Little Farm (Neon)
    The Cave (National Geographic)
    Honeyland (Neon)
    The Kingmaker (Showtime)
    Knock Down the House (Netflix)
    Leaving Neverland (HBO)
    Maiden (Sony Pictures Classics)
    One Child Nation (Amazon Studios)
    They Shall Not Grow Old (Warner Bros.)

  • Best Director

    Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts, For Sama (PBS)
    Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, American Factory (Netflix)
    John Chester, The Biggest Little Farm (Neon)
    Feras Fayyad, The Cave (National Geographic)
    Peter Jackson, They Shall Not Grow Old (Warner Bros.)
    Todd Douglas Miller, Apollo 11 (Neon)
    Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang, One Child Nation (Amazon Studios)

  • Best Political Documentary

    American Factory (Netflix)
    The Edge of Democracy (Netflix)
    Hail Satan? (Magnolia)
    The Kingmaker (Showtime)
    Knock Down the House (Netflix)
    One Child Nation (Amazon Studios)

  • Best Music Documentary

    Amazing Grace (Neon)
    David Crosby: Remember My Name (Sony Pictures Classics)
    Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (Greenwich)
    Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (Abramorama)
    Pavarotti (CBS Films)
    Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (Netflix)
    Western Stars (Warner Bros.)

  • Best Sports Documentary

  • Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary

    Dr. Amani Ballor – The Cave (National Geographic)
    David Crosby – David Crosby: Remember My Name (Sony Pictures Classics)
    Tracy Edwards – Maiden (Sony Pictures Classics)
    Imelda Marcos – The Kingmaker (Showtime)
    Hatidze Muratova – Honeyland (Neon)
    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearengin – Knock Down the House (Netflix)
    Linda Ronstadt – Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (Greenwich)
    Dr. Ruth Westheimer – Ask Dr. Ruth (Hulu)

  • Most Innovative Documentary

    Aquarela (Sony Pictures Classics)
    Cold Case Hammarskjöld (Magnolia)
    Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (Netflix)
    Screwball (Greenwich)
    Serendipity (Cohen Media)
    They Shall Not Grow Old (Warner Bros.)

  • Best Biographical Documentary

    David Crosby: Remember My Name (Sony Pictures Classics)
    The Kingmaker (Showtime)
    Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (Greenwich)
    Love, Antosha (Lurker Films)
    Mike Wallace Is Here (Magnolia)
    Pavarotti (CBS Films)
    Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (Magnolia)

  • Best Science/Nature Documentary

    Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (Kino Lorber)
    Apollo 11 (Neon)
    Aquarela (Sony Pictures Classic) 
    The Biggest Little Farm
     (Neon)
    The Elephant Queen (Apple)
    Honeyland (Neon)
    Penguins (Disney)
    Sea of Shadows (National Geographic)

  • Best Cinematography

    Ben Bernhard and Viktor Kossakovsky, Aquarela (Sony Pictures Classics)
    John Chester, The Biggest Little Farm (Neon)
    Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma, Honeyland (Neon)
    Nicholas de Pencier, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (Kino Lorber)
    Muhammed Khair Al Shami, Ammar Suleiman, and Mohammad Eyad, The Cave (National Geographic)
    Richard Ladkani, Sea of Shadows (National Geographic)

  • Best Editing

    Georg Michael Fischer and Verena Schönauer, Sea of Shadows (National Geographic)
    Todd Douglas Miller, Apollo 11 (Neon)
    Jabez Olssen, They Shall Not Grow Old (Warner Bros.)
    Amy Overbeck, The Biggest Little Farm (Neon)
    Lindsay Utz, American Factory (Netflix)
    Nanfu Wang, One Child Nation (Amazon Studios)

  • Best Score

    Jeff Beal, The Biggest Little Farm (Neon)
    Matthew Herbert, The Cave (National Geographic)
    Matt Morton, Apollo 11 (Neon)
    Plan 9, They Shall Not Grow Old (Warner Bros.)
    H. Scott Salinas, Sea of Shadows (National Geographic)
    Eicca Toppinen, Aquarela (Sony Pictures Classics)

  • Best Narration

    Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (Kino Lorber)
    Alicia Vikander, narrator
    Jennifer Baichwal, writer

    The Biggest Little Farm (Neon)
    John Chester, Molly Chester, narrators
    John Chester, writer

    The Edge of Democracy (Netflix)
    Petra Costa, narrator
    Petra Costa, Carol Pires, David Barker, Moara Passoni, writers

    The Elephant Queen (Apple)
    Chiwetel Ejiofor, narrator
    Mark Deeble, writer

    For Sama (PBS)
    Waad Al-Kateab, narrator
    Waad Al-Kateab, writer

    Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People (First Run)
    Adam Driver, narrator
    Oren Rudavsky, Bob Seidman, writers

    One Child Nation (Amazon Studios)
    Nanfu Wang, narrator
    Nanfu Wang, writer

    Western Stars (Warner Bros.)
    Bruce Springsteen, narrator
    Bruce Springsteen, writer

  • Best First Documentary Feature

    Midge Costin, Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound (Matson Films)
    A.J. Eaton, David Crosby: Remember My Name (Sony Pictures Classics)
    Pamela B. Green, Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché (Kino Lorber/Zeitgeist Films)
    Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov, Honeyland (Neon)
    Richard Miron, For the Birds (Dogwoof)
    Garret Price, Love, Antosha (Lurker Films)

  • Best Archival Documentary

    Amazing Grace (Neon)
    Apollo 11 (Neon)
    Maiden (Sony Pictures Classics)
    Mike Wallace Is Here (Magnolia)
    Pavarotti (CBS Films)
    Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (Netflix)
    They Shall Not Grow Old (Warner Bros.)
    What's My Name: Muhammad Ali (HBO)

  • Best Short Documentary

    The Chapel at the Border (Atlantic Documentaries)
    Director: Jeremy Raff
    Producer: Jeremy Raff

    Death Row Doctor (The New York Times Op-Docs)
    Director: Lauren Knapp

    In the Absence (Field of Vision)
    Director: Yi Seung-Jun
    Producer: Gary Byung-Seok Kam

    Lost World
    Director: Kalyanee Mam
    Producers: Kalyanee Mam, Adam Loften, Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

    Mack Wrestles (ESPN)
    Directors: Taylor Hess, Erin Sanger
    Producers: Taylor Hess, Erin Sanger, Erin Leyden, Gentry Kirby

    Period. End of Sentence. (Netflix)
    Director: Rayka Zehtabchi
    Producers: Melissa Berton, Garrett K. Schiff, Lisa Taback

    The Polaroid Job (The New York Times Op-Docs)
    Director: Mike Plante

    Sam and the Plant Next Door (The Guardian)
    Director: Ömer Sami
    Producer: Ömer Sami

    The Unconditional
    Director Dave Adams
    Producers: Dave Adams, Adam Soltis, Renee Woodruff Adams, Josie Swantek Heitz, Chris Tuss

    The Waiting Room (The Guardian)
    Director: Victoria Mapplebeck
    Producer: Victoria Mapplebeck