‘Summer of Soul’ Takes Top Honor at Critics Choice Documentary Awards

The Critics Choice Association awarded “Summer of Soul” the top prize at the sixth annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards, which honors the best achievements in nonfiction released in theaters, on TV, or on major digital platforms. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s look at the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival took home the most awards of any film, with five in total.

This year’s nominees were led by “Ascension” and “Summer of Soul,” two films by first-time documentarians. Each had six nominations. But “Ascension,” Jessica Kingdon’s look at the pursuit of the Chinese dream, failed to score any prizes November 14.

“Summer of Soul,” which won the top documentary prize and an Audience Award following its Sundance premiere earlier this year, won five of the six awards it was nominated for at the critics awards: Best Documentary Feature, Best First Documentary Feature, Best Editing, Best Archival Documentary, and Best Director, a prize Thompson shared with “The Rescue” in a tie.

“The Rescue,” Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s account of the 2018 rescue of a Thai soccer team from an underground cave, also won Best Cinematography and Best Score.

Below find the complete list of nominees for the Critics Choice Documentary Awards, with winners bolded:

Best Documentary Feature

“Ascension” (MTV Documentary Films)
“Attica” (Showtime)
“Becoming Cousteau” (Picturehouse/National Geographic Documentary Films)
“The Crime of the Century” (HBO Documentary Films)
“A Crime on the Bayou” (Augusta Films/Shout! Studios)
“Flee” (Neon)
“Introducing, Selma Blair” (Discovery+)
“The Lost Leonardo” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“My Name is Pauli Murray” (Amazon Studios)
“Procession” (Netflix)
“The Rescue” (National Geographic Documentary Films)
“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” (Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)

Best Director

Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin – “The Rescue” (National Geographic Documentary Films) (tie)
Liz Garbus – “Becoming Cousteau” (Picturehouse/National Geographic Documentary Films)
Jessica Kingdon – “Ascension” (MTV Documentary Films)
Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry – “Attica” (Showtime)
Jonas Poher Rasmussen – “Flee” (Neon)
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson – “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” (tie)
(Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)
Edgar Wright – “The Sparks Brothers” (Focus Features)

Best First Documentary Feature

Jessica Beshir – “Faya Dayi” (Janus Films)
Rachel Fleit – “Introducing, Selma Blair” (Discovery+)
Todd Haynes – “The Velvet Underground” (Apple TV+)
Jessica Kingdon – “Ascension” (MTV Documentary Films)
Kristine Stolakis – “Pray Away” (Netflix)
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson – “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”
(Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)
Edgar Wright – “The Sparks Brothers” (Focus Features)

Best Cinematography

Jessica Beshir – “Faya Dayi” (Janus Films)
Jonathan Griffith, Brett Lowell and Austin Siadak – “The Alpinist” (Roadside Attractions)
David Katznelson, Ian Seabrook and Picha Srisansanee – “The Rescue”
(National Geographic Documentary Films)
Jessica Kingdon and Nathan Truesdell – “Ascension” (MTV Documentary Films)
Nelson Hume and Alan Jacobsen – “The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52” (Bleecker Street Media)
Emiliano Villanueva – “A Cop Movie” (Netflix)
Pete West – “Puff: Wonders of the Reef” (Netflix)

Best Editing

Francisco Bello, Matthew Heineman, Gabriel Rhodes and David Zieff – “The First Wave”
(National Geographic Documentary Films)
Jeff Consiglio – “LFG” (HBO Max and CNN Films)
Bob Eisenhardt – “The Rescue” (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Affonso Gonçalves and Adam Kurnitz – “The Velvet Underground” (Apple TV+)
Jessica Kingdon – “Ascension” (MTV Documentary Films)
Joshua L. Pearson – “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”
(Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)
Julian Quantrill – “The Real Charlie Chaplin” (Showtime)

Best Narration

“9/11: Inside the President’s War Room”(Apple TV+)
Jeff Daniels, narrator

“Becoming Cousteau” (Picturehouse/National Geographic Documentary Films)
Vincent Cassel, narrator
Mark Monroe and Pax Wassermann, wrriters

“The Crime of the Century” (HBO Documentary Films)
Alex Gibney, narrator
Alex Gibney, writer

“The Neutral Ground” (PBS)
CJ Hunt, narrator
CJ Hunt, writer

“The Real Charlie Chaplin” (Showtime)
Pearl Mackie, narrator
Oliver Kindeberg, Peter Middleton and James Spinney, writers

“Val” (Amazon Studios)
Jack Kilmer, narrator
Val Kilmer, writer

“The Year Earth Changed” (Apple TV+)
David Attenborough, narrator

Best Score

Jongnic Bontemps – “My Name is Pauli Murray” (Amazon Studios)
Dan Deacon – “Ascension” (MTV Documentary Films)
Alex Lasarenko and David Little – “The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52” (Bleecker Street Media)
Cyrus Melchor – “LFG” (HBO/CNN)
Daniel Pemberton – “The Rescue” (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Rachel Portman – “Julia” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Dirac Sea – “Final Account” (Focus Features)

Best Archival Documentary

“Becoming Cousteau” (Picturehouse/National Geographic Documentary Films)
“The Real Charlie Chaplin” (Showtime)
“The Real Right Stuff” (Disney+)
“Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street” (HBO Documentary Films)
“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” (Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)
“Val” (Amazon Studios)
“The Velvet Underground” (Apple TV+)

Best Historical or Biographical Documentary

“Attica” (Showtime)
“A Crime on the Bayou” (Augusta Films/Shout! Studios)
“Fauci” (Magnolia Pictures/National Geographic Documentary Films)
“Final Account” (Focus Features)
“Julia” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“My Name is Pauli Murray” (Amazon Studios)
“No Ordinary Man” (Oscilloscope)
“Val” (Amazon Studios)

Best Music Documentary

“Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry” (Apple TV+)
“Bitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James” (Showtime)
“Listening to Kenny G” (HBO Documentary Films)
“The Sparks Brothers” (Focus Features)
“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” (Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)
“Tina” (HBO Documentary Films)
“The Velvet Underground” (Apple TV+)

Best Political Documentary

“The Crime of the Century” (HBO Documentary Films)
“Enemies of the State” (IFC Films)
“Four Hours at the Capitol” (HBO Documentary Films)
“Influence” (StoryScope, EyeSteelFilm)
“Mayor Pete” (Amazon Studios)
“Missing in Brooks County” (Giant Pictures)
“Nasrin” (Hulu)
“Not Going Quietly” (Greenwich Entertainment)

Best Science/Nature Documentary

“Becoming Cousteau” (Picturehouse/National Geographic Documentary Films)
“Fauci” (National Geographic Documentary Films)
“The First Wave” (National Geographic Documentary Films)
“The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52” (Bleecker Street Media)
“Playing with Sharks” (National Geographic Documentary Films)
“Puff: Wonders of the Reef” (Netflix)
“The Year Earth Changed” (Apple TV+)

Best Sports Documentary

“The Alpinist” (Roadside Attractions)
“Changing the Game” (Hulu)
“The Day Sports Stood Still” (HBO)
“Kevin Garnett: Anything Is Possible” (Showtime)
“LFG” (HBO Max/CNN Films)
“Tiger” (HBO)

Best Short Documentary

“Audible” (Netflix)
“Borat’s American Lockdown” (Amazon Studios)
“Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis” (Netflix)
“Day of Rage: How Trump Supporters Took the U.S. Capitol” (The New York Times)
“The Doll” (Jumping Ibex)
“The Last Cruise” (HBO Documentary Films)
“The Queen of Basketball” (The New York Times)
“Snowy” (TIME Studios)

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