‘Dick Johnson Is Dead’ Wins Top Prize at Critics Choice Documentary Awards

The Critics Choice winner has gone on to be nominated for the documentary Oscar only once in the last four years

Last Updated: November 16, 2020 @ 6:28 AM

AWARDS BEAT

Kirsten Johnson’s playful “Dick Johnson Is Dead” has been named the best nonfiction film of 2020 at the fifth annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards, which were announced on Monday morning.

Johnson also won the Best Director award for her Netflix film, in which she deals with the impending death of her father by staging his death in a variety of ways.

Melissa Haizlip won the Best First Documentary Feature award for “Mr. SOUL!,” while other awards went to “My Octopus Teacher” for cinematography, “Totally Under Control” for editing, “The Way I See It” for music and “David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet” for narration.

“MLK/FBI” was named Best Archival Documentary, “John Lewis: Good Trouble” Best Historical/Biographical Documentary, “Boys State” Best Political Documentary” and “My Octopus Teacher” Best Science/Nature Documentary.

There were two ties: “Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes” and “Athlete A” tied in the Best Sports Documentary category, while two films about bands that came to prominence in the 1980s tied for Best Music Documentary: “Beastie Boys Story” and “The Go-Go’s.”

The winners were revealed in a press release from the Critics Choice Association in lieu of the awards show that had taken place in previous years.

“Crip Camp,” “Gunda” and “Mr. SOUL!” went into the show tied for the most nominations, with five.

In the first four years of the Critics Choice Documentary Awards, which was spun off from the Critics Choice Awards as a separate show in 2016, the winner has gone on to win the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature only once, with “O.J.: Made in America” in 2016. Since then, the Critics Choice winners – “Jane” in 2017, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” in 2018 and “Apollo 11” in 2019 – were not even nominated for the Oscar.

The full list of winners:

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“Dick Johnson is Dead” (Netflix)

BEST DIRECTOR
Kirsten Johnson, “Dick Johnson is Dead” (Netflix)

BEST FIRST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Melissa Haizlip, “Mr. SOUL!” (Shoes in the Bed Productions)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Roger Horrocks, “My Octopus Teacher” (Netflix)

BEST EDITING
Lindy Jankura, Alexis Johnson and Alex Keipper, “Totally Under Control” (Neon)

BEST SCORE
Marco Beltrami, Brandon Roberts and Buck Sanders, “The Way I See It” (Focus Features)

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

BEST ARCHIVAL DOCUMENTARY
“MLK/FBI” (Field of Vision/IFC Films)

BEST HISTORICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL DOCUMENTARY
“John Lewis: Good Trouble” (Magnolia Pictures/Participant)

BEST MUSIC DOCUMENTARY (TIE)
“Beastie Boys Story” (Apple)
“The Go-Go’s” (Showtime)

BEST POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY
“Boys State” (Apple)

BEST SCIENCE/NATURE DOCUMENTARY
“My Octopus Teacher” (Netflix)

BEST SPORTS DOCUMENTARY (TIE)
“Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes” (HBO)
“Athlete A” (Netflix)

BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY
“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)