‘Crip Camp,’ ‘Gunda,’ and ‘Mr. Soul!’ Lead Critics Choice Documentary Awards Nominations

Anne Thompson
·7 min read

In a year packed with superb documentaries, the Critics Choice Association Documentary Awards nominations, which honor the best non-fiction achievements of 2020 (released in theaters, television, and digital platforms), will help other awards groups to winnow down the list of must-sees. “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” (Netflix), “Gunda” (Neon), and “Mr. Soul!” lead this year’s nominations with five each. Netflix leads the field with 31 nominations, followed by Neon with 14 and Magnolia Pictures with nine.

“The Documentary Branch faced its greatest task yet considering the quantity and quality of nonfiction cinema released this year,” said Christopher Campbell, President of the Critics Choice Association Documentary Branch, in an official statement. “Ultimately, these nominees represent the best of the best of a remarkably fruitful moment for documentary filmmaking.”

Winners will be announced on November 16, 2020.

The Sundance debut “Crip Camp” is nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and also earned nods for James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham for Best Director, along with Best Editing, Best Archival Documentary, and Best Historical/Biography Documentary. The film also received an honor for Judith Heumann for Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary.

Berlin debut “Gunda” is nominated for Best Documentary Feature, along with Victor Kossakovsky for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Science/Nature Documentary.

Melissa Haizlip’s Tribeca 2018 debut “Mr. Soul!” is nominated for Best Documentary Feature, Best First Documentary Feature, Best Narration, Best Archival Documentary, and Best Historical/Biographical Documentary.

Recognized with four nominations each are Netflix’s “Athlete A,” “Dick Johnson is Dead,” and “My Octopus Teacher,” as well as Neon’s “Totally Under Control.”

The nominations for “Athlete A” are Best Documentary Feature, Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk for Best Director, Best Editing, and Best Sports Documentary. Maggie Nichols, Rachael Denhollander, and Jamie Dantzscher are also included on the list of Most Compelling Living Subjects of a Documentary.

The nominations for “Dick Johnson is Dead” are Best Documentary Feature, Kirsten Johnson for Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Narration. The film also received an honor for Dick Johnson for Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary.

The nominations for “My Octopus Teacher” are Best Documentary Feature, Best Cinematography, Best Narration, and Best Science/Nature Documentary.

“Totally Under Control” landed nominations for Best Editing, Best Score, Best Narration, and Best Political Documentary. Dr. Rick Bright was named the Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary.

At last year’s fourth annual CCDA event, “Apollo 11” took home the Best Documentary award. Peter Jackson (“They Shall Not Grow Old”) tied with and Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar (Oscar-winner “American Factory”). “American Factory” also won the award for Best Political Documentary.

Here is the full list of nominees for the Critics Choice Documentary Awards:

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“Athlete A” (Netflix)
“Belushi” (Showtime)
“Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” (Netflix)
“Dick Johnson is Dead” (Netflix)
“Feels Good Man” (Wavelength Productions/PBS Independent Lens)
“The Fight” (Magnolia Pictures)
“The Go-Go’s” (Showtime)
“Gunda” (Neon)
“Mr. SOUL!” (Shoes in the Bed Productions)
“My Octopus Teacher” (Netflix)
“The Painter and the Thief” (Neon)
“A Secret Love” (Netflix)
“The Social Dilemma” (Netflix)
“Time” (Amazon Studios)

BEST DIRECTOR
Garrett Bradley, “Time” (Amazon Studios)
Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, “Athlete A” (Netflix)
Kirsten Johnson, “Dick Johnson is Dead” (Netflix)
Victor Kossakovsky, “Gunda” (Neon)
James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham, “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” (Netflix)
Dawn Porter, “John Lewis: Good Trouble” (Magnolia Pictures)
Benjamin Ree, “The Painter and the Thief” (Neon)

BEST FIRST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Robert S. Bader, Ali & “Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes” (HBO)
Chris Bolan, “A Secret Love” (Netflix)
Melissa Haizlip, “Mr. SOUL!” (Shoes in the Bed Productions)
Arthur Jones, “Feels Good Man” (Wavelength Productions/PBS Independent Lens)
Elizabeth Leiter and Kim Woodard, “Jane Goodall: The Hope” (National Geographic)
Elizabeth Lo, “Stray” (Magnolia Pictures)
Sasha Joseph Neulinger, “Rewind” (Grizzly Creek Films/PBS Independent Lens)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw, “The Truffle Hunters” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Roger Horrocks, “My Octopus Teacher” (Netflix)
Kirsten Johnson, “Dick Johnson is Dead” (Netflix)
Victor Kossakovsky and Egil Håskjold Larsen, “Gunda” (Neon)
Scott Ressler, Neil Gelinas and Stefan Wiesen, “The Last Ice” (National Geographic)
Gianfranco Rosi, “Notturno” (Stemal Entertainment)
Ruben Woodin Dechamps, “The Reason I Jump” (Kino Lorber)

BEST EDITING
Don Bernier, “Athlete A” (Netflix)
Eli Despres, Greg Finton and Kim Roberts, “The Fight” (Magnolia Pictures)
Lindy Jankura and Alex Keipper, “Totally Under Control” (Neon)
Helen Kearns, “Assassins” (Greenwich Entertainment)
Victor Kossakovsky and Ainara Vera, “Gunda” (Neon)
Eileen Meyer and Andrew Gersh, “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” (Netflix)
Charlotte Munch Bengtsen, “The Truffle Hunters” (Sony Pictures Classics)

BEST SCORE
Ari Balouzian and Ryan Hope, “Feels Good Man” (Wavelength Productions/PBS Independent Lens)
Marco Beltrami, Brandon Roberts and Buck Sanders, “The Way I See It” (Focus Features)
Tyler Durham, Sven Faulconer and Xander Rodzinski, “The Last Ice” (National Geographic)
Peter Nashel and Brian Deming, “Totally Under Control” (Neon)
Daniel Pemberton, “Rising Phoenix” (Netflix)
Jeff Tweedy, “Long Gone Summer” (ESPN)
Jeff Tweedy, Spencer Tweedy and Sammy Tweedy, “Showbiz Kids” (HBO)

BEST NARRATION
David Attenborough: “A Life on Our Planet” (Netflix)
David Attenborough, Narrator
David Attenborough, Writer

“Dick Johnson is Dead” (Netflix)
Kirsten Johnson, Narrator
Kirsten Johnson, Writer

“Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds” (Apple)
Werner Herzog, Narrator
Werner Herzog, Writer

“Mr. SOUL!” (Shoes in the Bed Productions)
Blair Underwood, Narrator
Ellis Haizlip, Writer

“My Octopus Teacher” (Netflix)
Craig Foster, Narrator
Craig Foster, Writer

“Time” (Amazon Studios)
Fox Rich, Narrator
Fox Rich, Writer

“Totally Under Control” (Neon)
Alex Gibney, Narrator
Alex Gibney, Writer

BEST ARCHIVAL DOCUMENTARY
“Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes” (HBO)
“Belushi” (Showtime)
“Class Action Park” (HBO)
“Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” (Netflix)
“MLK/FBI” (Field of Vision/IFC Films)
“Mr. SOUL!” (Shoes in the Bed Productions)
“Spaceship Earth” (Neon)

BEST HISTORICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL DOCUMENTARY
“Belushi” (Showtime)
“Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” (Netflix)
“Howard” (Disney+)
“John Lewis: Good Trouble” (Magnolia Pictures)
“Mr. SOUL!” (Shoes in the Bed Production)
“Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado” (Netflix)
“Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind” (HBO)

BEST MUSIC DOCUMENTARY
“Beastie Boys Story” (Apple)
“Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan” (Magnolia Pictures)
“The Go-Go’s” (Showtime)
“Laurel Canyon” (Epix)
“Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band” (Magnolia Pictures)
“Other Music” (Factory 25)
“Zappa” (Magnolia Pictures)

BEST POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY
“All In: The Fight for Democracy” (Amazon Studios)
“Boys State” (Apple)
“John Lewis: Good Trouble” (Magnolia Pictures)
“MLK/FBI” (Field of Vision/IFC Films)
“The Social Dilemma” (Netflix)
“Totally Under Control” (Neon)
“The Way I See It” (Focus Features)

BEST SCIENCE/NATURE DOCUMENTARY
“Coded Bias” (7th Empire Media/PBS Independent Lens)
“Fantastic Fungi” (Moving Art)
“Gunda” (Neon)
“I Am Greta” (Hulu)
“The Last Ice” (National Geographic)
“My Octopus Teacher” (Netflix)
“Spaceship Earth” (Neon)

BEST SPORTS DOCUMENTARY
“Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes” (HBO)
“Athlete A” (Netflix)
“Be Water” (ESPN)
“A Most Beautiful Thing” (50 Eggs Films)
“Red Penguins” (Universal Pictures)
“Rising Phoenix” (Netflix)
“You Cannot Kill David Arquette” (Super LTD)

BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY
“Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible” (ESPN)
(Directors: Kristen Lappas and Tom Rinaldi. Producers: Craig Lazarus, José Morales, Lindsay Rovegno, Victor Vitarelli and Ben Webber)

“The Claudia Kishi Club” (Netflix)
(Director and Producer: Sue Ding)

“Crescendo!” (Quibi)
(Director: Alex Mallis. Producers: Matt O’Neill and Perri Peltz)

“Elevator Pitch” (Field of Vision)
(Director and Producer: Martyna Starosta)

“Hunger Ward” (Spin Film/Vulcan Productions/RYOT Films)
(Director and Producer: Skye Fitzgerald. Producer: Michael Scheuerman)

“Into the Fire” (National Geographic)
(Director: Orlando von Einsiedel. Producers: Mark Bauch, Harri Grace and Dan Lin)

“My Father the Mover” (MTV Documentary Films)
(Director: Julia Jansch. Producer: Mandilakhe Yengo)

“The Rifleman” (Field of Vision)
(Director: Sierra Pettengill. Producer: Arielle de Saint Phalle)

“The Speed Cubers”(Netflix)
(Director and Producer: Sue Kim. Producers: Evan Krauss and Chris Romano)

“St. Louis Superman” (MTV Documentary Films)
(Directors and Producers: Sami Khan and Smriti Mundhra. Producer: Poh Si Teng)

MOST COMPELLING LIVING SUBJECTS OF A DOCUMENTARY (HONOR)
Dr. Rick Bright – “Totally Under Control” (Neon)
Steven Garza – “Boys State” (Apple)
The Go-Go’s – “The Go-Go’s” (Showtime)
Judith Heumann – “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” (Netflix)
Dick Johnson – “Dick Johnson is Dead” (Netflix)
Maggie Nichols, Rachael Denhollander, Jamie Dantzscher – “Athlete A” (Netflix)
Fox Rich – “Time” (Amazon)
Pete Souza – “The Way I See It” (Focus Features)
Taylor Swift – “Miss Americana” (Netflix)
Greta Thunberg – “I Am Greta” (Hulu)

The Critics Choice Documentary Awards are an offshoot of The Critics Choice Awards, which will air live on The CW Network on Sunday, March 7, 2021.

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