8th Annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards – Nominations for 2023

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.

The Critics Choice Documentary Awards will be live-streamed through Facebook, YouTube and 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.

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.”

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)

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)

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)

The 8th Annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards will be held on Sunday, November 12, 2023 in New York.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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