Critics Choice Documentary Award Nominees 2019

Posted on October 14, 2019 at 12:11 pm

The nominees for this year’s Documentary Awards from the Broadcast Film Critics Association are:

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.)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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

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)

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)

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)

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.)

American Factory (Netflix)
The Edge of Democracy (Netflix)
Hail Satan? (Magnolia)
The Kingmaker (Showtime)
Knock Down the House (Netflix)
One Child Nation (Amazon Studios)

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)

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)

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.)

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: Ömer 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)

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)

The first-time winner of the new D.A. Pennebaker award for lifetime achievement will very appropriately go to the legendary Frederick Wiseman. There is hardly an institution in America, from high school to mental hospital to upscale department store to library that has not been the subject of one of and illuminated by his documentaries.

Another outstanding awardee is Michael Apted, who will receive the Landmark Award for the groundbreaking UP series. There’s never been anything like it. A documentary about school children turned into one of the most extraordinary longitudinal studies in the history of science. I always look forward to the next episode.

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Awards Documentary

Jeremy Fassler Ranks the Oscar-Winning Animated Shorts

Posted on February 25, 2019 at 3:24 pm

Copyright Disney 1933
It was a delight to read Jeremy Fassler’s ranking of all of the Oscar-winning animated shorts for New York Magazine’s Vulture. From Disney’s “Three Little Pigs” (which introduced the song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”) at #12 to the Hubleys’ “Moonbird” (#30), Herb Alpert songs (#59), and “The Hole” (#7) (John Hubley also worked on #4, “Gerald McBoing-Boing”) and Nick Parks’ “A Close Shave” (#43) and “The Wrong Trousers” (#1), from powerhouses like Tom and Jerry and Disney to one-offs like the Polish director who ended up in jail with his Oscar after he misplaced his ticket and got into an altercation with the security guard who would not let him back into the theater, it is an entertaining and insightful look at some of the greatest animated talents of all time.

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Animation Awards

Oscars 2019 — No Host, Some Progress, and Gaga/Cooper Sizzle

Posted on February 25, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Raise your hand if you missed having a host at the Oscars. Yeah, me neither. Without a host to mock-mock the stars and studios and be instantly dissected on social media, the Oscar telecast seemed almost — supple and elegant, if still not anywhere close to the authenticity of the Spirit Awards or the grace and aplomb of the Tony Awards. Highlights, lowlights, upsets, and a couple of moments sure to be on Oscar highlight reels for decades to come.

Best idea: Skipping the host. That position, meaning both the assignment and the opening of the show, has become impossible. Starting with a rousing musical number from Queen (though Adam Lambert is no Freddie Mercury, and not even a Rami Malek) was just fine. And the always-brilliant trio of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph gave us a light sprinkling of pointed but not mean one-liners to remind us not to take the awards too seriously. Thanks, Academy, for jettisoning almost all of the achingly arch fake banter of the presenters, too.

Worst idea: Trains. Stylists, please remember that the stars may have to do more than swirl on the red carpet. When they have to go up the stairs to claim their Oscars, those trains get in the way. Huge thanks to the gallant Chris Evans for discreetly lending a hand to Regina King.

Best moment: Screens all around the world melted during the sizzling performance of “Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradly Cooper. Instead of coming out from the wings, they simply got up from their seats in the audience and sat down on stage as naturally as if it was their own living room. The performance was breathtakingly intimate and touching. When he left his stool to come sit beside her on the piano bench, their deep affection and respect was palpable.

Best speeches: Regina King’s heartfelt tribute to her mother’s support and love, Spike Lee’s jubilance, Olivia Colman’s very un-British dissolve into incoherence.

Best omission: In multiple wins for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” no one mentioned the now-disgraced director.

Best dress: Michell Yeoh in Elie Saab

Runner-up: Billy Porter, designed by my favorite Project Runway winner, Christian Siriano

Porter’s ensemble inspired the evening’s best Twitter comments.

From Broadway star Audra McDonald: Audra McDonald’s time of death: Billy Porter O’ Clock.
From writer/director Ava Duverney: I really just think I’ve seen all I need to see as this outfit is paying all my bills, offering advice, watering my plants and generally giving me life as well as afterlife. I’m going to go somewhere and have a good cry. Amen.
And Porter himself, who noted that the ensemble was a tribute to iconic Hector Xtravaganza of the House of Xtravaganza, who died in December: “My goal is to be a walking piece of political art every time I show up.”

Color theme of the evening’s couture: Pink, worn by many of the most glamorous stars, including Best Picture presenter Julia Roberts, who looked ravishing.

Best surprise: The conventional choices for Best Animated Feature would be whatever movie Disney or Pixar released. I loved “Incredibles 2” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” but was thrilled to see the wonderfully inclusive and wildly innovative “Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse” win. My Spidey sense tingled right up my spine with that one.

Best development: Oscars are a little less white this year, not just in the key acting awards, with Regina King and Mahershala Ali winning for supporting roles (Ali is now only the second black performer to win more than one Oscar, after Denzel Washington), but crucially historic wins at the below the line level, with “Black Panther’s” Ruth Carter (costume designer) and Hannah Beachler (production designer, with Jay Hart) becoming the first black women to win in their categories.

“Roma” became the first Mexican film to win Best Foreign Language Picture, and Alfonso Cuaron, its writer/director/cinematographer, who based the story on his own life, won for direction and cinematography as well. This was the fifth time in six years a Mexican director has won Best Director. The other categories had a heartening diversity as well, including Peter Ramsey, the first black director to win an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, and the Chinese-American Domee Shi, who wrote and directed the award-winning animated short “Bao.” Three of the four acting awards went to people of color.

Far to go: But the writing awards sharply highlighted the way that the AMPAS is still grappling with the way American movies tell stories about race and class. The thrill of the adapted screenplay win by Spike Lee for “BlackKklansman.” Lee has been criminally overlooked by the Oscars for decades (except for one honorary award). The joy at his award was instantly eclipsed by the original screenplay award to “Green Book,” which many people consider to be condescending and insensitive. The choice of “Green Book” as Best Picture prompted an explosion of furious Twitter comments. The clueless acceptance speeches of the writer/producers failed to mention either Dr. Don Shirley or the titular travel guide and seemed clueless about the way some audience members responded to it. Their kumbayah-style comments came across as, well, condescending and insensitive.

I gave up on the idea of the Oscars as indicators, much less arbiters, of absolute value, aesthetic or cultural, many, many years ago, which leaves me free to enjoy the show as what it is — the industry saluting and, more important, revealing itself. If you want to know which are the best films of the year, check out the Critics Choice Awards, voted on by people whose profession is to watch all movies, not just those supported by the studios for awards, and to evaluate them. Or check out the Spirit Awards, given the night before the Oscars, which pay tribute to the films made entirely out of passionate commitment to the art of telling stories, not the art of making money. And the awards show has an outsider perspective that ensures no one takes any of it too seriously.

But the Oscars are always un-missable, and this year’s show, frustrating as it was, to me showed great progress and has me already looking forward to next year.

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Spirit Awards 2019: If Beale Street Could Talk, Glenn Close, Roma

Posted on February 24, 2019 at 8:00 am

Copyright Annapurna 2018
For me, the most significant and enjoyable movie awards of the year are the Spirit Awards (formerly Independent Spirit). I was thrilled that my favorite film of 2018, “If Beale Street Could Talk” was selected for Best Picture, Director, and Supporting Actress.

Here are the awards:

Best Feature

Best Director

Best First Feature

Best Male Lead

Best Female Lead
Glenn Close, THE WIFE

Best Supporting Female Actor

Best Supporting Male Actor

Best Cinematography
Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, SUSPIRIA

Best Screenplay
Nicole Holofcener & Jeff Whitty, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

Best First Screenplay

Best Editing

Best Documentary

Best International Film
ROMA (Mexico)

The Truer Than Fiction Award

Producers Award
Shrihari Sathe

The Someone to Watch Award
Alex Moratto, SÓCRATES

The Bonnie Award
Debra Granik

Robert Altman Award
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Casting Directors: Avy Kaufman, Stella Savino
Ensemble Cast: Malgosia Bela, Ingrid Caven, Lutz Ebersdorf, Elena Fokina, Mia Goth, Jessica Harper, Dakota Johnson, Gala Moody, Chloë Grace Moretz, Renée Soutendijk, Tilda Swinton, Sylvie Testud, Angela Winkler

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Awards Independent
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