‘The Biggest Little Farm’ Leads Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards Nominations

“Apollo 11” and “They Shall Not Grow Old” also score multiple nominations from fourth annual Critics Choice Association awards

Last Updated: October 23, 2019 @ 3:42 PM

John Chester’s “The Biggest Little Farm,” a film about a husband and wife trying to establish a small farm in Southern California, led all films in nominations for the fourth annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, the Critics Choice Association announced on Monday.

The film received seven nominations in 16 categories, including Best Documentary Feature and Best Director. Todd Douglas Miller’s “Apollo 11,” which used 50-year-old footage to reconstruct the moon mission, received six, as did Peter Jackson’s “They Shall Not Grow Old,” which used enhanced 100-year-old footage to bring World War I to movie screens in special-event engagements.

Other films nominated in the Best Documentary Feature category are “American Factory,” “The Cave,” “Honeyland,” “The Kingmaker,” “Knock Down the House,” “Maiden” and “One Child Nation.” And because the BFCA has given up trying to draw a line between film and television docs, the HBO two-part series “Leaving Neverland” was nominated in the feature category as well.

The nominations mean that “American Factory,” “Apollo 11,” “The Biggest Little Farm,” “The Cave,” “Honeyland” and “One Child Nation” are the six nonfiction films to be singled out by the DOC NYC and International Documentary Association short lists and the Critics’ Choice nominations this year. Four films that made both the DOC NYC and IDA lists — “The Apollo,” “Diego Maradona,” “The Edge of Democracy” and “For Sama” — were not nominated in the top category by the Critics’ Choice voters, though “For Sama” and “The Edge of Democracy” were nominated for their narration, and “Diego Maradona” as Best Sports Documentary.

Other sports nominees were “Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable,” “Maiden,” “Rodman: For Better or Worse,” “The Spy Behind Home Plate” and “What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali.” In the Best Music Documentary category, nominees were the Aretha Franklin film “Amazing Grace,” “David Crosby: Remember My Name,” “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice,” “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool,” “Pavarotti,” “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Western Stars.”

The Critics’ Choice nominating committees accepted “Rolling Thunder” as a documentary, despite the fact that the highly entertaining film adroitly uses the documentary format to deliberately mislead its audience and tell a largely false story about Bob Dylan’s 1975 tour.

Last year’s 10 Critics’ Choice nominees included seven films that would go on to make the Oscars’ documentary short list and three that would be nominated, including the winner, “Free Solo.” Over the three years of the awards’ existence, it has nominated three of the five eventual Oscar nominees each year, leaning toward the mainstream titles and missing “Fire at Sea” and “I Am Not Your Negro” in 2016, “Icarus” and “Last Men in Aleppo” in 2017 and “Of Fathers and Sons” and “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” last year.

The nominees were chosen by committees made up of volunteers from the Critics Choice Association, the new name for a combined organization from the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on Nov. 10 at BRIC in Brooklyn, New York. Property Brothers’ Jonathan Scott will host.

At the ceremony, filmmaker Frederick Wiseman will be presented with the D.A. Pennebaker Award, the new name for what was formerly the Critics’ Choice Lifetime Achievement Award. Another honorary award, the Landmark Award, will be given to director Michael Apted for his work on the “Up” series, which began chronicling a group of seven-year-old British children in the early 1960s and has revisited their lives every seven years since then; the latest installment, out later this year, is “63 UP.”

The nominees:

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“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 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 and Molly Chester, narrators
John Chester, writer
“The Edge of Democracy” (Netflix)
Petra Costa, narrator
Petra Costa, Carol Pires, David Barker and 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 and 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 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 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 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 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 SPORTS DOCUMENTARY
“Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable” (Entertainment Studios)
“Diego Maradona” (HBO)
“Maiden” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“Rodman: For Better or Worse” (ESPN)
“The Spy Behind Home Plate” (Ciesla Foundation)
“What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali” (HBO)

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 SHORT DOCUMENTARY
“The Chapel at the Border” (Atlantic Documentaries)
(Director and 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 and Producer: Kalyanee Mam. Producers: Adam Loften and Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee)
“Mack Wrestles” (ESPN)
(Directors and Producers: Taylor Hess and Erin Sanger. Producers: Erin Leyden and Gentry Kirby)
“Period. End of Sentence.” (Netflix)
(Director: Rayka Zehtabchi. Producers: Melissa Berton, Garrett K. Schiff and Lisa Taback)
“The Polaroid Job” (The New York Times Op-Docs)
(Director: Mike Plante)
“Sam and the Plant Next Door” (The Guardian)
(Director and Producer: ?-mer Sami)
“The Unconditional”
(Director and Producer: Dave Adams. Producers: Adam Soltis, Renee Woodruff Adams, Josie Swantek Heitz, and Chris Tuss)
“The Waiting Room” (The Guardian)
(Director and Producer: Victoria Mapplebeck)

MOST COMPELLING LIVING SUBJECTS 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)

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