The Biggest Little Farm (2019)

A scene from the documentary 'The Biggest Little Farm' (Neon)

The nominations for the Fourth Annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards were unveiled today by The Critics Choice Association (CCA). The awards will be handed out at a gala event, hosted by “Property Brothers’” Jonathan Scott, on Sunday, November 10 at BRIC in Brooklyn, New York.

2019 has been an outstanding year for documentaries, which made the process of selecting the nominees challenging for qualified CCA members. After narrowing down a long list of documentaries released in theaters, television, and major digital platforms, a vote was held to determine this year’s nominees.

“The Biggest Little Farm” received the most nominations with seven, including Best Documentary Feature, Best Director (John Chester), Best Cinematography, Best Score, Best Narration, Best Editing, and Best Science/Nature Documentary. The beautifully photographed doc chronicles the eight-year journey by Los Angeles married couple John and Molly Chester who ditched the big city life for a dream of turning 200 acres of barren farmland into a rich productive biodiverse design for living.

Todd Douglas Miller’s “Apollo 11” which chronicles Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins’ trip to the moon received six nominations for Best Documentary Feature, Best Director (Miller), Best Archival Documentary, Best Editing, Best Score, and Best Science/Nature Documentary. Presented in IMAX at select theaters, the documentary features never-before-seen 65mm footage, recently discovered in NASA’s archives along with 11,000 hours of audio recordings, for the breathtaking 93-minute film. 

Peter Jackson’s homage to British troops of the First World War, “They Shall Not Grow Old,” tied “Apollo 11” with six nominations including Best Documentary Feature, Best Director (Jackson), Best Editing, Best Score, Best Archival Documentary, and Most Innovative Documentary. The documentary is a remarkable achievement by Jackson who digitally remastered and colorized never-before-seen footage overlayed by interviews from the 60s and 70s with those who partook in the Great War.

Other documentaries receiving recognition include "One Child Nation” with five nominations and “The Cave,” “Honeyland,” “American Factory,” “Aquarela,” and “Sea of Shadows” each receiving four nominations.

At this year’s ceremony, legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman will be honored with the special D A Pennebaker Award, formerly the Critics’ Choice Lifetime Achievement Award, named for prior winner D A Pennebaker, who passed away this summer. Filmmaker Chris Hegedus, Pennebaker’s long-time collaborator, and widow, will present the award to Wiseman.

Also, acclaimed filmmaker Michael Apted (“Chronicles of Narnia,” “Amazing Grace”) will be presented with The Landmark Award for his extraordinary and unparalleled achievement with the “Up” series, which has just added “63 Up” to this historic work.

CCA CEO Joey Berlin said, “As the film and television industry constantly evolves, documentaries remain a vibrant creative art form that entertains as well as informs.” He added, ““The CCA has the privilege to publicly support and celebrate the outstanding work of these artists, while at the same time providing media consumers with help in making informed and smart choices as they face more decisions about ‘what to watch’ than ever before. We are proud that our awards event has become a valuable way to help people ‘find the good stuff’ and to help filmmakers find their audiences.”

The nominees for the fourth annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards are:

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) Narrated by Alicia Vikander, written by Jennifer Baichwal

The Biggest Little Farm (Neon) Narrated by John Chester and Molly Chester, written by John Chester

The Edge of Democracy (Netflix) Narrated by Petra Costa, written by Petra Costa, Carol Pires, David Barker and Moara Passoni

The Elephant Queen (Apple) Narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor, written by Mark Deeble

For Sama (PBS) Narrated and written by Waad Al-Kateab

Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People (First Run) Narrated by Adam Driver, written by Oren Rudavsky and Bob Seidman

One Child Nation (Amazon Studios) Narrated and written by Nanfu Wang

Western Stars (Warner Bros.) Narrated and written by Bruce Springsteen

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

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)

Death Row Doctor (The New York Times Op-Docs)

In the Absence (Field of Vision)

Lost World

Mack Wrestles (ESPN)

Period. End of Sentence. (Netflix)

The Polaroid Job (The New York Times Op-Docs)

Sam and the Plant Next Door (The Guardian)

The Unconditional

The Waiting Room (The Guardian)

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)

Joe Friar is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (Los Angeles) and the Houston Film Critics Society.  He co-founded the Victoria Film Society and reviews films for Hit Radio 104.7 and the Victoria Advocate.

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Joe Friar is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (Los Angeles) and the Houston Film Critics Society. He co-founded the Victoria Film Society and reviews films for Hit Radio 104.7 and the Victoria Advocate."

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