Sunday, November 11, 2018

'Won't You Be My Neighbor' named year's best doc by BFCA group

Legendary Fred Rogers dominates "Won't You Be My Neighor?"
The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) announced the winners of the third annual "Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards" last night at a gala event, hosted by Bill Nye at BRIC in Brooklyn.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? took home the evening’s most prestigious award for Best Documentary, as well as Best Director for Morgan Neville and the award for Best Editing.
Free Solo also collected three awards: Best Sports Documentary, Best Innovative Documentary and Best Cinematography.
Host Nye led 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).
“As the documentary world is exploding with great works, we are thrilled to shine a light on the best of the best,” said BFCA President Joey Berlin. “In the year of the documentary, this was a very special night, celebrating the giants in our business and some amazing newcomers.”
During the awards show, filmmaker Michael Moore was honored with the Critics’ Choice Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Robert De Niro. Renowned documentarian Stanley Nelson was honored with the Critics’ Choice Impact Award, presented by Joe Berlinger, who received the same honor last year.
Presenters and attendees at the gala event included Rashida Jones, Pamela Adlon, Matt Dillon, Natasha Lyonne, Steve James, D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus, Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, Bing Liu, and Morgan Neville.
This year, the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards also introduced the Catalyst Sponsorship, a program for industry leaders to support the event. The inaugural sponsors included Focus Features, National Geographic Documentary Films, Netflix, CNN FIlms, and CuriosityStream.
The eligibility period for the third annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards runs from Jan. 1, 2018, and includes any film or television program scheduled to premiere on or before Dec. 31, 2018.
The Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards are determined by qualified members of the BFCA, the largest film critics organization in the U.S. and Canada, and BTJA and feature multiple categories across both television and film.
Next up for the groups is The Critics’ Choice Awards, bestowed annually by BFCA and BTJA to honor the finest in cinematic and television achievement and, historically, the most accurate predictor of the Academy Award nominations.
The CW will partner with the critics as the exclusive home to The 24th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards, a three-hour ceremony on The CW on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. For more information, visit: www.CriticsChoice.com
WINNERS OF THE THIRD ANNUAL CRTICS' CHOICE DOCUMENTARY AWARDS
Best Documentary: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Best Limited Documentary Series: The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling
Best Ongoing Documentary Series: Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
Best Director: Morgan Neville for Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Best First Time Director: TIE: Bing Liu for Minding the Gap, and Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster for Science Fair
Best Political Documentary: RBG
Best Sports Documentary: Free Solo
Best Music Documentary: Quincy
Most Innovative Documentary: Free Solo
Best Cinematography: Free Solo
Best Editing: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Friday, November 9, 2018

'Overlord' outpoints 'Grinch,' tattooed 'Girl,' and pair of good festival films

OK, so you didn't believe me last week when I told you we're really getting into the heart of the movie season and delivered five new movie reviews. Well, would you believe five more opening today?  Or that the legitimate horror show in the bunch might be the most entertaining in a quintet that includes celluloid returns for both Dr. Seuss and Lisbeth Salander, not to mention two fine small movies we ran down at this year's Toronto International Film Festival?

Russell gets more than he bargains for in dealing with the dark side of WWII.
The bloody and energetic "Overlord," a WWII Nazi/zombie movie with an unheralded director and mostly unknown cast, actually even finds room to mention baseball Hall of Famer Stan Musial among its many surprises.

There's also an opening, 20-minute "war is hell" sequence that might be the most eye-opening (and ear-popping) since "Saving Private Ryan." Much later, experimentally altered humans turning into raging monsters enter the picture and might remind some of those disturbing werewolves in "The Howling." (That's the classically scary 1981 flick that helped make director Joe Dante so bankable.)

It remains to be seen if the same good things will happen here for Julius Avery, but the director does take a screenplay from Billy Ray ("Captain Phillips," "The Hunger Games") and Mark L. Smith ("The Revenant") and mostly runs full speed ahead with it.

That includes the expertly choreographed parachuting of an American squad into a small French village to knock out a well-positioned German stronghold on the eve of D-Day. Certainly the action runs heavy right on through what occurs after their ultimate discovery of the horrifying goings-on in the same building's basement.

See it, enjoy it, thank me later, then watch Wyatt Russell (currently on AMC's wacky "Lodge 49") and Jovan Depo (from 2016's "Fences") become major Hollywood players. Russell, the son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hahn, is the initially reluctant squad leader, while the British Depo makes his mark as the often bewildered real hero of the piece.

By the way, John Magaro, a busy young actor from Munroe Falls, Ohio, grabs his moments, too, as a talkative (and humorous) G.I.

Rated "R": strong bloody violence, disturbing images, language, and brief sexual content; 1:48; $ $ $ $ out of $5

On the other side of movie spectrum, there's the latest animated telling of "The Grinch," which remains strictly for kids until it becomes time for adults to pay attention to the familiar, heartwarming message.

As voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, the titled green grouch lives way up in the mountains above Dr. Seuss' beloved and equally colorful Whoville, where spunky little Cindy Lou (Cameron Seeley) perseveres to do something nice for her valiant single mom (Rashida Jones).

Sometimes in rhyme but often not, narrator Pharell Williams helps explain what's going on when Grinch coerces his funny, faithful pup to play along with his silly schemes to spoil the town's joyous season.

Of course, there are holiday tunes galore -- a few new ones and many old -- with all gloriously capped off by "The Christmas Song" from the still one-of-a-kind Nat King Cole. And, just who can possibly get grinchy hearing that?

Rated "PG": brief rude humor; 1:30; $ $ $ out of $5
Foy does her thing as the hacker/heroine in the latest "Girl" movie.

Another grumpy persona returning to the big screen arrives this time as "The Girl in the Spider's Web." Naturally, she's' the aforementioned Lisbeth Salander of "Dragon Tattoo" fame and now played by the grand Claire Foy, who apparently can portray anyone. I mean, she simply was Queen Elizabeth during her award-winning turn on Netflix's "The Crown," Neil Armstrong's solid wife in "First Man," and the surly, unhinged victim she captured in the little-seen "Unsane" very early this year.

Actually, the latter role might have prepared her for the Salander shenanigans that have her effortlessly leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Not really, mind you, but this athletic and brilliant character uncorks as many jaw-dropping stunts and mind-twisting head games to match either James Bond or Ethan Hunt, the CIA type that Tom Cruise personifies in the "Mission Impossible" movies.

Honestly, there seems like a little too much impossibility in what Lisbeth manages here, including one preposterous escape on a drawbridge. However, despite the film's dark, dreary and sordid content, Foy's efforts could result in Salander continuing to exorcise her demons (and miscreants) again in firm franchise fashion.

And, speaking of villains, the ones behind the "Spider" syndicate are oddly effective, too, even if we can see the key builder of their wretched web coming almost two hours earlier.

Rated "R": brutal violent content including rape and torture, strong sexuality, graphic nudity and language; 1:57; $ $ $ out of $5


McCarthy and Grant fill 'em up in "Can You Ever Forgive Me?"
Finally, those festival films, "Can You Ever Forgive Me?"  and "What They Had" (both "R"-rated and worth at least $ $ $ and 1/2 out of $5) feature performances to laugh and cry with in stories that demand attention.

The former finds Melissa McCarthy in a role that could be a distant cousin to some of the fools she's played in so many bad comedies, though this one is based on a real person. That would be biographer-turned autograph forger Lee Israel, whose alcoholism led to her losing a job and pulling a rather interesting scam on collectors and parts of the New York literary community.

Richard E. Grant, meanwhile, chews up his turn as her homeless partner in crime with the charm of a complete cad and might at least steal away a supporting actor nomination for doing it so auspiciously.

Similarly, another longtime character actor, Robert Forster, easily could find himself as one of Grant's main competitors in that category as the caretaker/husband of  a woman (Blythe Danner) starting to suffer from Alzheimer's disease in "What They Had."

In fact, the entire ensemble, which includes two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank and double nominee Michael Shannon, as the couple's somewhat dysfunctional children, often soars in this heartbreaking drama from actress-turned writer/director Elizabeth Chomko.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Actors (and actresses) mostly carry this cinematic quintet opening today

If it's November, it must be the the start of the busy movie season, with holidays and awards possibilities beginning their annual dances in many Hollywood heads.
Malek (as Mercury) and Gwilym Lee (as lookalike Brian May) are Queen band mates.

This weekend, at least seven new films, including the resurrection of an old one from Orson Welles, make and take their bows on northeast Ohio screens. Here are some short takes on the five we've seen.

Maybe the best -- and easily the most entertaining of the bunch -- is "Bohemian Rhapsody," the long-awaited music bio about Freddie Mercury, lead singer of  the '80s chart-topping outfit known simply as Queen.

Obviously the soundtrack is spot on, with all of the essential British band's memorable hits sprinkled prominently throughout. And, if that's not really Rami Malek carrying the main tune, so what. The "Mr. Robot" Emmy-winner is electrifying as Mercury, whether he's on stage; partying and prancing during the seriously scary AIDS Era; or expressing his feelings to the alleged "love of his life" (played nicely by Lucy Boynton) and even to his parents in a very moving final act.

Speaking of endings, Queen's stunning, 20-minute performance at 1985's star-studded "Live Aid" charity concert seems perfectly re-created, too, in helping bring down the curtain on a film that might actually really rock you.

Rated "PG-13": thematic elements, suggestive material, drug content and language; 2:14; $ $ $ $ out of $5 

Steve Carell and Amy Ryan, a doozy of  a TV couple in the last few seasons of NBC's popular "The Office," are reunited in "Beautiful Boy," as divorced parents in a hard-to-watch little film that simply belongs to young Timothee Chalamet.

Chalamet and Carell, as troubled son and worried father.
The latter, an Oscar nominee in last year's "Call By Your Name," soars again, this time devouring his role as young addict Nic Sheff, whose memoir, "Tweak," became one of two books on which his death-defying experiences in the movie are based. The other, also called "Beautiful Boy," comes from his dad, successful freelance-writer Dave Sheff, a man mostly played by Carell with a kind of Charlie Brown slouch.

Certainly, such a fatherly countenance is likely deserved since Dad Dave constantly is being hoodwinked by son Nic's continuing deceptions, as well as the so-called "relapsing that's part of recovery." That's where the film slides between compelling and heartbreak, not too mention a little too frightening to absorb for any parent in the crowd.

Nic's addiction affects everyone in the family, including two young siblings who adore him, a supportive step mom (Mara Tierney), and his real mother (the ever-fine Ryan), whose late arrival to the proceedings might cause you to wonder about her maternal instincts.

Chalamet's performance, one of the year's best, deserves to be seen, but it certainly doesn't exactly make for a fun night at the movies.

Rated "R": drug content throughout, language and brief sexual material; 2:00; $ $ $ out of $5

A gaggle of ghastly gals, led by Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, and a short-lived Chloe Grace Moretz, sometimes creepily inhabit "Suspiria," a very long movie that twists and turns in and out of its most macabre settings.

Johnson dances away with the lead role in "Suspiria."
All are elaborately staged by director Luca Guadagnino (the same guy who put Chalamet through his paces in the previously mentioned "Call Me By Your Name"). Alas, Luca's remake of Dario Argento's much shorter 1977 version (which I never saw) occasionally comes across as a self-indulgent overstatement by a talented filmmaker who cares more about art than story.

No doubt he and screenwriter David Kajganich, a Lorain, Ohio, native who teamed with the director before in "A Bigger Splash," easily could have done without a couple of intrusive -- and convoluted -- sidebars involving hijackers and Nazis and perhaps even the Johnson character's own Ohio roots in Amish country, of all places.

From there, her naive young Susie, an alleged brilliant dancer and sweet young thang, somehow finds her way to Berlin to audition for a place in a high-end academy run by women with tastes leaning toward the bizarre and grotesque.

Meanwhile, without giving anything more away, Swinton, as the school's artistic director, literally goes all over the screen to impress us, and here she always does. Horror fans likely will embrace much of it most readily, but the ubiquitous Swinton, the seductive Johnson, and seven acts, including an epilogue, offer plenty more to give it a gander.

Rated "R": disturbing, content involving ritualistic violence, bloody images and graphic nudity, and for some language including sexual references; 2:32; $ $ $ out of $5

Sometimes it seems as if every small indie film from jolly ol' England is connected to 19th century author, humorist, playwright and poet Oscar Wilde, and now he gets the full-blown treatment in "The Happy Prince," a not-so-aptly named bio.

Titled after one of his children's stories, the screen telling is in no way as pleasant as it sounds. In fact, it's very likely that actor/writer/director Rupert Everett chose the movie name to highlight Wilde's popular use of irony in his internationally admired works, especially since the film concentrates on the last few, excruciatingly sad months of his subject's life.

Those came after Wilde, once known as the most famous man in London, served two years of hard labor simply for being gay. What follows then, is a dark, dreary and often uneven telling of the trials and tribulations of a man who remains very much revered today.

Everett surely gives his all in portraying his flawed hero, but his account never matches the heft of his own performance.

Rated "R": sexual content, graphic nudity, language and brief drug use; 1:45; $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

Finally, that last movie from Orson Welles starts steaming on Netflix today (and will be shown in big screen 35 mm tonight, tomorrow and Sunday at Cleveland's famed Cinematheque, which is featuring a special Welles retrospective this month and next).

It's called  "The Other Side of the Wind" and watching it in all its mish-mash glory gives you an oddly captivating feeling of deja vu, especially when it comes to its grand assortment of character actors.

Oscar-winners Edmond O'Brien and Mercedes McCambridge appear with notables like Susan Strasberg and Cameron Mitchell, while esteemed director (and Welles confidante) John Huston chews up the scenery in the lead role as -- what else? -- a despised director trying to make a comeback.

Another famous director, Peter Bogdanovich, not only co-stars as an up-and-coming auteur but also apparently became instrumental in getting Netflix involved in salvaging the movie, which Welles started in 1970 and was still working on when he died in 1985.

Certainly, some of the remaining product becomes occasionally incoherent, and Welles' co-writer (and apparent Croatian companion at the time) Oja Kodar plays the sexy siren in a film within the film. Still, it often makes for fascinating viewing and, among many other things, all the docu-drama going on will have you wondering: Is any or all of it autobiographical? What, are you kidding me? Was Huston anything like the miserable pain in the ass he portrays here (and in other movies)?

The Welles genius -- and his opinions on the the movie business -- emerge from the light and shadows, too, in a curious project that's definitely worth an adventurous look.

Rated "R": sexual content, graphic nudity and some language; 2:02; $ $ $ out of $5

Also opening (but not screened for reviewers) is writer/director Tyler Perry's latest comedy, the R-rated "Nobody's Fool," with the red-hot Tiffany Hadesh, and Disney's "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms," which is obviously one of the aforementioned films inspiring the holidays to dance in those heads. (I wouldn't worry about its awards possibilities just yet, though.)

Thursday, October 25, 2018

First-time director Jonah Hill skates through personal little film

Who knew that Jonah Hill, the funny and chubby kid we probably first seriously noticed in Judd Apatow's coming-of-age comedy "Superbad" would be making his directorial debut only a bit more than a decade later?

Battlin' bros Hedges and Suljic find a common ground.
But now he is with "Mid90s," Hill's own small rite of passage tale, complete with his OK screenplay and a 4-3 screen ratio on 16 mm film, making viewers almost feel as if they're watching a home movie while taking part in the action themselves.

Not that there's a lot of action, anyway, in this brief, 84-minute story that plays most welcome in an era of lengthy films that never seem to know when or how to end (please take a hint, Mr. Apatow). Here, we're quickly introduced to our pint-sized protagonist, slightly built Stevie, being throttled by his ever-bullying big brother (the always capable Lucas Hedges in an offbeat role, at least for him).

With a single, working mom (Katherine Waterston) often away from home, 13-year-old Stevie needs support. So, as ingratiatingly played by Sunny Suljic, most notably from last year's oddly intriguing "The Killing of a Sacred Deer," he seeks refuge with a group of skateboarders. Uh-oh, sounds like trouble ahead on the colorful streets of L.A.

But, no, it's not so bad at all, literally and figuratively. What happens to little Stevie, mostly due to his never-say-die perseverance and hell-bent desire for acceptance, is as surprising as Hill's avoidance of cliches and outrageous comedy.

Instead, we get a few meagerly touching moments, some laughs, and a ragtag bunch of credible newcomers, including ringleader Ray (Na-kel Smith), a couple of amusingly nicknamed skaters (Olan Prenatt and Ryder McLaughlin), and Stevie's chief rival for their attention, Ruben (the similarly slim-framed Gio Galicia).

Except for a silly sexual interlude that almost derails the whole experience, helmer Hill deserves a high half-pipe and a promised peek at his next go-round behind the camera.

Rated "R": for pervasive language, sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and some violent behavior/disturbing images involving minors; 1:24; $ $ $ out of $5

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

'Ophelia' makes a star turn as full-fledged heroine in new take on tragedy

When last we saw Daisy Ridley, it was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, with the British actress smartly and swiftly learning the ways of The Force as the ever-spirited Rey continuing her battle against the Evil Empire in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."

Now she's the equally energetic title character in "Ophelia," only this time resisting the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune befalling her as a put-upon lady-in-waiting, who tries to be (but pretends not to be) a strong, independent woman of the late middle ages.

Certainly, this new perspective on all the infamous Elsinore intrigue from the one-of-a-kind "Hamlet" tale takes a more feminist turn, which director Claire McCarthy apparently borrows from the young adult novel by Lisa Klein. In fact, McCarthy and screenwriter Semi Chellas both push Prince Hamlet backstage here, with Ophelia coming out of the wings, so to speak, and exbhibiting the great Dane-like strength of a legitimate heroine.

Ridley's "Ophelia" and Watts' Gertrude become quite the BFFs.
In a direct nod to her death by drowning according to Shakespeare, the film actually opens with Ophelia floating on her back and thinking out loud: "I have seen more of heaven and hell than most people have dreamed of . . . It's high time I tell you my story myself."

And so she does, starting with her tomboyish days of roughhousing with pal Hamlet until his mother, the Queen Gertrude (Naomi Watts), discovers her hiding under a table. The rest becomes a kind of revisionist history -- some refreshing, parts poetically blasphemous -- but all likely redesigned to inspire the Millennial movie-going masses.

With Ridley's "Star Wars" cred on full display, and "Harry Potter" franchise fave Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) taking a nice swing at portraying Ophelia's brother Laertes, this new telling of a familiar story seems right on target. However, we can't blame the more classically inclined for possibly wondering: "Oh Shakespeare, my Shakespeare, where art thou?"

The best answer is that there are enough touches of The Bard scattered and splattered in a mostly lavish-looking chick flick that even has an occasional kick. By the way, a secondary role by Watts (as Gertrude's sorceress twin sister) and a goofy wig worn by Clive Owen (as Claudius) dance around the edges of hoot worthy, too.

Rated "PG-13": a scene of violence/bloody images, some sensuality, and thematic elements; 1:54; $ $ $ out of $5

(This is the first in what will be an intermittent series of small reviews about buzz-worthy indie films either currently playing the festival circuit or soon to be released. "Ophelia" debuted at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Michael Myers scares again, well before the real celebration of 'Halloween'

One of the great movie-going experiences in quite a while occurred for the lucky ones who attended the world premiere screenings of "Halloween" last month during the 43rd annual Toronto International Film Festival.

Alone in the dark: Myers eerily engages Toronto.
Not only did most of the cast, including Jamie Lee Curtis and Judy Greer, and filmmakers such as writer/director David Gordon Green and co-screenwriter Danny McBride, show up to clown around briefly before each one of two sold-out festival "Midnight Madness" showings, but so did serial killer extraordinaire Michael Myers.

After the celebs left the stage and the theater lights went down, a dark visage seemed to appear out of thin air as the movie began to flicker behind it. Of course, it was the ever-masked Myers himself, staring at an audience going absolutely bonkers as he slowly walked toward the curtains in the wings.

Even more shocking, though, was the madman's nifty return almost two hours later. This time, as the end credits rolled, Myers could be seen from a shadowy corner of the ancient Elgin Theater balcony simply glaring down at his fellow crazies, who really couldn't believe they were witnessing such a masterfully creepy stunt.

Certainly, those eager to be among the first kids on the block to see another chapter of the franchise that John Carpenter began exactly 40 years ago with the original "Halloween," reacted with equal enthusiasm to the latest film, a legitimate hoot that's destined to re-energize the long-running slasher genre.

Surprisingly perhaps, it's a real dazzler -- from another terrifically startling score by Carpenter himself, to Myers' escape from an asylum (complete with a seemingly suitable homage to characters from the unrelated, Oscar-winning "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"), and a smashing return by Curtis, as a tough-as-nails Grandma Laurie Strode, looking for revenge on not-so-sweet Michael for what happened four decades ago.

"(Since then) I've prayed every day for him to escape," Strode tells a cop at one point, "so I can kill him." Meanwhile, her now-married daughter (Greer) tries to keep loony Laurie away from her granddaughter (a nice turn by relative newcomer Andi Matichak), herself a potential victim in Myers'
one-man march to stop trick-or-treating in the town of Haddonfield, Ill.

Rated "R": horror violence and bloody images, language, brief drug use and nudity; 1:46; $ $ $ $ out of $5

Monday, October 15, 2018

'Free Solo,' 'Minding the Gap,' 'Wild Wild Country' top BFCA doc noms


The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) have announced the nominees for the third annual "Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards." 

Alex Honnold is a man alone in the doc nomination-leading "Free Solo."
Winners will be presented their awards at a gala event, hosted by science educator and television personality Bill Nye on Saturday, Nov.10, at BRIC in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Free Solo, a thrilling mountain-climbing doc, leads this year with six nominations and one honor, including Best Documentary, Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi for Best Directors, Best Sports Documentary, Most Innovative Documentary, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and a Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary honor for Alex Honnold.

Recognized with five nominations each are Minding the Gap, a powerful film with skateboarding as its centerpiece, and Wild Wild Country, the six-part Netflix series about the separation of church and state.

At the gala ceremony, filmmaker Stanley Nelson, one of the foremost chroniclers of the African-American experience in nonfiction film today, will be presented with the "Critics’ Choice Impact Award."

As previously announced, multi award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore will be honored with the "Critics’ Choice Lifetime Achievement Award." 
Nominees for the third annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards are:
BEST DOCUMENTARY
Crime + Punishment – Director: Stephen Maing (Hulu)
Dark Money – Director: Kimberly Reed (PBS)
Free Solo – Directors: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Hal – Director: Amy Scott (Oscilloscope)
Hitler’s Hollywood – Director: Rüdiger Suchsland (Kino Lorber)
Minding the Gap – Director: Bing Liu (Hulu)
RBG – Directors: Julie Cohen, Betsy West (Magnolia Pictures, Participant Media)
Three Identical Strangers – Director: Tim Wardle (Neon, CNN Films)
Wild Wild Country – Directors: Chapman Way, Maclain Way (Netflix)
Won't You Be My Neighbor? – Director: Morgan Neville (Focus Features)
BEST LIMITED DOCUMENTARY SERIES
America to Me (Starz)
Dirty Money (Netflix)
Elvis Presley: The Searcher (HBO Documentary Films, Sony Pictures Television)
Flint Town (Netflix)
One Strange Rock (National Geographic)
The Fourth Estate (Showtime Networks)
The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling (HBO)
Wild Wild Country (Netflix)
BEST ONGOING DOCUMENTARY SERIES
30 for 30 (ESPN)
American Masters (PBS)
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (CNN)
Frontline (PBS)
Independent Lens (PBS)
Making a Murderer (Netflix)
POV (PBS)
The History of Comedy (CNN)
BEST DIRECTOR
Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi – Free Solo (National Geographic Documentary Film)
Bing Liu – Minding the Gap (Hulu)
Morgan Neville – Won't You Be My Neighbor? (Focus Features)
Kimberly Reed – Dark Money (PBS)
Rüdiger Suchsland – Hitler's Hollywood (Kino Lorber)
Tim Wardle – Three Identical Strangers (Neon, CNN Films)
Chapman Way and Maclain Way (Netflix) -- Wild Wild Country
BEST FIRST-TIME DIRECTOR
Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster – Science Fair (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Heather Lenz – Kusama – Infinity (Magnolia Pictures)
Bing Liu – Minding the Gap (Hulu)
Stephen Nomura Schible – Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda (MUBI)
Amy Scott – Hal (Oscilloscope Laboratories
Rudy Valdez – The Sentence (HBO Documentary Films)
BEST POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY
RBG – Directors: Julie Cohen, Betsy West (Magnolia Pictures, Participant Media)
Dark Money – Director: Kimberly Reed (PBS)
Fahrenheit 11/9 – Director: Michael Moore (Briarcliff Entertainment)
Flint Town – Directors: Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper, Jessica Dimmock (Netflix)
Hitler’s Hollywood – Director: Rüdiger Suchsland (Kino Lorber)
John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls – Directors: George Kunhardt, Peter W. Kunhardt, Teddy Kunhardt (HBO)
The Fourth Estate – Directors: Liz Garbus, Jenny Carchman (Showtime Networks)
BEST SPORTS DOCUMENTARY
Andre the Giant – Director: Jason Hehir (HBO)
Being Serena (HBO)
Free Solo – Directors: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (National Geographic Documentary Film)
John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection – Director: Julien Faraut (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
Minding the Gap – Director: Bing Liu (Hulu)
The Workers Cup – Director: Adam Sobel (Passion River)
BEST MUSIC DOCUMENTARY
Bad Reputation – Director: Kevin Kerslake (Magnolia Pictures)
David Bowie: The Last Five Years – Director: Francis Whately (HBO Documentary Films)
Elvis Presley: The Searcher – Director: Thom Zimny (HBO Documentary Films, Sony Pictures Television)
Lynyrd Skynyrd: If I Leave Here Tomorrow – Director: Stephen Kijak (Showtime Networks)
Quincy – Directors: Alan Hicks, Rashida Jones (Netflix)
Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda – Director: Stephen Nomura Schible (MUBI)
Whitney – Director: Kevin Macdonald (Roadside Attractions, Miramax)
MOST COMPELLING LIVING SUBJECT OF A DOCUMENTARY
(ALL LISTED IN THE CATEGORY WILL BE HONORED AT THE EVENT) 
Scotty Bowers – Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (Greenwich Entertainment, Kino Lorber, Starz!)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg – RBG (Magnolia Pictures, Participant Media)
Alex Honnold – Free Solo (National Geographic Documentary Film)
Joan Jett – Bad Reputation (Magnolia Pictures)
Quincy Jones – Quincy (Netflix)
David Kellman and Bobby Shafran – Three Identical Strangers(Neon, CNN Films)
John McEnroe – John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection(Oscilloscope Laboratories)
Leon Vitali – Filmworker (Kino Lorber)
MOST INNOVATIVE DOCUMENTARY
306 Hollywood – Directors: Elan Bogarin, Jonathan Bogarin (PBS, El Tigre)
Free Solo – Directors: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (National Geographic Documentary Film)
Hitler's Hollywood – Director: Rüdiger Suchsland (Kino Lorber)
Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda – Director: Stephen Nomura Schible (MUBI)
Wild Wild Country – Directors: Chapman Way, Maclain Way (Netflix)
Won't You Be My Neighbor? – Director: Morgan Neville (Focus Features)
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
306 Hollywood – Cinematographers: Elan Bogarin, Jonathan Bogarin, Alejandro Mejía (PBS, El Tigre)
The Dawn Wall – Cinematographer: Brett Lowell (The Orchard)
Free Solo – Cinematographers: Jimmy Chin, Clair Popkin, Mikey Schaefer (National Geographic Documentary Film)
Minding the Gap – Cinematographer: Bing Liu (Hulu)
Pandas – Cinematographer: David Douglas (Warner Brothers)
Wild Wild Country – Cinematographer: Adam Stone (Netflix)
BEST EDITING
Dark Money – Editor: Jay Arthur Sterrenberg (PBS)
Filmworker – Editor: Tony Zierra (Kino Lorber)
Free Solo – Editor: Bob Eisenhardt (National Geographic Documentary Film)
John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection – Editor: Julien Faraut (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
Three Identical Strangers – Editor: Michael Harte (Neon, CNN Films)
Won't You Be My Neighbor? – Editors: Jeff Malmberg, Aaron Wickenden (Focus Features)
“We are thrilled to celebrate this year’s outstanding documentary work at the upcoming event,” said Broadcast Film Critics Association President Joey Berlin. “The year 2018 has been called ‘The Year of the Documentary,’ and we are so happy to give these films and shows the recognition and high praise that they deserve.”
The Critics’ Choice 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. Qualified members of BFCA and BTJA will choose the winners from amongst the nominees in voting from Nov, 7-Nov. 9.
For the first time, the Critics' Choice Documentary Awards also has introduced "Catalyst Sponsorship," a program for industry leaders to support the event. The inaugural sponsors include Focus Features, National Geographic Documentary Films, Netflix, Curiosity Stream, and others.