Ever since the Fred Rogers documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” brought audiences to tears at the Sundance Film Festival in January, it has been the frontrunner for the Best Documentary Oscar. Sure enough, the Focus Features release, the highest-grossing biodoc of all time, took home Best Documentary and Director for Morgan Neville as well as Best Editing at the Third Annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards on Saturday, November 10.
National Geographic/Samuel Cross
Its closest competitor, NatGeo’s vertiginous climbing movie “Free Solo,” also took home three Critics’ Choice documentary awards from the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA). Directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, “Free Solo” won Best Sports Documentary, Best Innovative Documentary, and Best Cinematography.
During the awards show hosted by Bill Nye at BRIC in Brooklyn, filmmaker Michael Moore gave a rousing political speech as he accepted the Critics’ Choice Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Robert De Niro. Documentarian Stanley Nelson received the Critics’ Choice Impact Award, presented by Joe Berlinger, who received the same honor last year.
The award for Best Limited Documentary Series went to “The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling,” beating out Netflix’s “Wild Wild Country.” The Best Ongoing Documentary Series award went to “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” which airs its posthumous finale on CNN this weekend. The Best Political Documentary winner was CNN/Magnolia’s summer hit “RBG.” Netflix’s “Quincy” nabbed the award for Best Music Documentary. In a tie, Best First Time Director went to Bing Liu for “Minding the Gap” and Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster for “Science Fair.”
Host Bill Nye lead the celebration of this year’s honorees for Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary — Scotty Bowers (“Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood”), Ruth Bader Ginsburg (“RBG”), Alex Honnold (“Free Solo”), Joan Jett (“Bad Reputation”), Quincy Jones (“Quincy”), David Kellman and Bobby Shafran (“Three Identical Strangers”), John McEnroe (“John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection”), and Leon Vitali (“Filmworker”).
The Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards are determined by qualified members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), and feature multiple categories across both television and film. The eligibility period for the third annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards runs from January 1, 2018 and includes any film or television program scheduled to premiere on or before December 31, 2018.
The BFCA is the largest film critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 300 television, radio and online critics. The BFCA will partner with the CW for the 24th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards which will air on Sunday, January 13, 2019.