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Critics Choice Announces their First Ever Doc Awards

The Critics Choice Awards, aka the Broadcast Film Critics awards, decided to put out their first ever documentary nominations. Although they have not sent out their methods – they did thing a little differently this time. They had actual nominating committees to watch and review and nominate the films. There are two main categories – Streaming/TV and Theatrical. But the lines are blurred with these awards, as they are blurred in the documentary industry overall. This is especially true with OJ: Made in America vs. 13th. Both are streaming, both had a theatrical run. Both lead these nominations. It’s just that only one gets a theatrical nod, while the other gets a streaming nod, which is kind of strange.

Here are the films that have both a feature nod and a directing nod:

OJ: Made in America
Life, Animated

This division between the directing category gives you an idea where the documentary race could be headed. At the Oscars, they do not have a separate category for Director so all a movie has to do is land in the top five for Best Feature. Thus, if both OJ: Made in America and 13th make it in, that means, essentially, both directors are acknowledged.

By dividing them, it seems to me that the BFCA voters have set themselves up for a situation where both will win that night, whether it was intentional or not.

In the streaming, the only Best Feature and Best Director: 13th.  The only film to be named in both feature and streaming is also 13th.

The only director nominated for Best Director who does not have a corresponding Best Feature nod is Ron Howard.  So, it’s a little strange, I have to admit, that given the amount of support for DuVernay and her eligibility for both, why she was not placed in the top tier for directors.

So what’s the problem if everyone gets a statue and the love is shared all around? I guess there is no problem except that the Oscar race is about perception and placement. What these nominations tell me as an Oscarwatcher is simply this: OJ: Made in America is likely to be positioned to win Documentary Feature at the Oscars. Maybe it deserves to win, I don’t know. It is certainly bigger and longer and more detailed than any feature length documentary made this year – how can you compare it with the others when they’re are constrained by the usual feature length. Any of these documentaries, if turned into that many two hour documentaries would have much more to reveal about each subject. Some have the material to do that – certainly 13th does. So it’s like putting the lead performance in the supporting category – how can the others compete?

OJ: Made in America is an epic. But it’s ironic to me that its main competition is a film that tells a completely different side of American history and in fact, to have OJ Simpson be the poster child for one of the most successful black men in history who also happens to be a murderer? That sets up quite the contest heading into the documentary awards race.

Best Documentary Feature

30 For 30: O.J.: Made in America
Fire at Sea
Life, Animated
The Witness

Best Direction of a Documentary Feature

Ezra Edelman – 30 For 30: O.J.: Made in America
Ron Howard – The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years
Kirsten Johnson – Cameraperson
Keith Maitland – Tower
Clay Tweel – Gleason
Roger Ross Williams – Life, Animated

Best First Documentary Feature

Otto Bell – The Eagle Huntress
David Farrier and Dylan Reeve – Tickled
Adam Irving – Off the Rails
Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg – Weiner
James D. Solomon – The Witness
Nanfu Wang – Hooligan Sparrow

BEST Political Documentary

30 For 30: O.J.: Made in America
Audrie & Daisy
Zero Days

Best Documentary Feature TV/Streaming

30 For 30: Fantastic Lies
Amanda Knox
Audrie & Daisy
Before the Flood
Holy Hell
Into the Inferno
Jim: The James Foley Story
Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures

Best Director TV/Streaming

Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato – Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures
Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn – Amanda Knox
Ava DuVernay – 13th
Werner Herzog – Into the Inferno
Morgan Spurlock – Rats
Fisher Stevens – Before the Flood

Best First Feature TV/Streaming

Everything is Copy – Jacob Bernstein and Nick Hooker
Holy Hell – Will Allen
Mavis! – Jessica Edwards
My Beautiful Broken Brain – Sophie Robinson and Lotje Sodderland
Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four – Deborah Esquenazi
Team Foxcatcher – Jon Greenhalgh

Best Limited Documentary Series

30 For 30: O.J.: Made in America
The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth
The Eighties
The Hunt
Jackie Robinson
Soundbreaking: Stories From the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music

Best Ongoing Documentary Series

30 for 30
Last Chance U
Morgan Spurlock Inside Man
This Is Life with Lisa Ling

Best Song in a Documentary

Angel by the Wings – The Eagle Huntress – Sia
The Empty Chair– Jim: The James Foley Story
Flicker – Audrie & Daisy – Tori Amos
Hoping and Healing – Gleason – Mike McCready
I’m Still Here – Miss Sharon Jones! – Sharon Jones
Letters to the Free– 13th –  Common, Karriem Riggins and Robert Glasper

Best Sports Documentary

30 For 30: Fantastic Lies
30 For 30: O.J.: Made in America
Dark Horse
The Eagle Huntress
Jackie Robinson
Keepers of the Game

Best Music Documentary

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years
Gimme Danger
Miss Sharon Jones!
The Music of Strangers
Presenting Princess Shaw
We Are X

Most Innovative Documentary

Kate Plays Christine
Life, Animated
Under The Sun


The winners will be announced on November 3 in New York.