Happy Sunday, which means it's time for the Sunday entertainment feature. As I plan on doing through October, the subject will be the Emmy Awards
. Today, I'm writing this year's version of 'RBG' vs. 'Free Solo' and other Oscar nominees at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards
, examining the documentary films and specials nominated at the 72nd Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards
. Five documentaries I've blogged about before earned nominations, including Critics' Choice
and Golden Coffee Cup
winner "Apollo 11
" with five, Oscar nominee "The Cave"
with four, Oscar winner "American Factory
" with three, and Critics' Choice nominee "One Child Nation"
and BAFTA nominee "The Great Hack
," both with one each.
I would have loved for all five to be the nominees in the first category, but only two of them made the cut.
Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking
The Cave (National Geographic Channel)
Chasing the Moon (American Experience) (PBS)
Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements (HBO)
One Child Nation (PBS)
If I handicapped this category purely on the number of nominations, I'd pick "The Cave" with its four nominations while all the others only have one. In addition, it's the only Oscar nominee in the category. However, electorates matter and the Emmy electorate is not the Oscar electorate. "Icarus" won the Academy Award
but did not win any of its categories at the Emmys
two years ago and Oscar winner "American Factory" did not even earn a nomination in this category. As for the film that could upset "The Cave," I'd pick "One Child Nation," which was the most nominated documentary at the Critics' Choice Awards
, even though it didn't win a single category. After all, I did write "I think it will have better luck at the Emmy Awards next year." This is its one chance to prove me right.
Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special
The Apollo (HBO)
Beastie Boys Story (Apple TV+)
The Great Hack (Netflix)
Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time (EPIX)
The most nominated entry is "Beastie Boys Story" with five nominations, followed by "Becoming" with four, "Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time" with three, and "The Apollo" and "The Great Hack" with one each. While the explicitly political documentaries are "Becoming" about Michelle Obama and "The Great Hack" about Cambridge Analytica
, I think one of the three music documentaries will win. Hollywood loves a good show about entertainment and, while none of these are about movies and television, music comes close. That's why I suspect "Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time" might be favored over "Beastie Boys Story." Laurel Canyon is in the Hollywood hills, while the Beastie Boys are from New York.
Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series or Special
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (Netflix)
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath (A&E)
Ugly Delicious (Netflix)
The World According to Jeff Goldblum (Disney+)
This is the category "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
" dominated for six years
and his absence is palpable. As I wrote last year, "Anthony Bourdain was a great writer right up until the end. I will miss him." So does this category. With his show over, there are no multiple nominees here, so I can't use that criterion to handicap the competition. Instead, I will resort to previous wins and nominations. According to that method, "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath" is the clear favorite, as it has won before and has been nominated every year since. The next best bet would be "Vice," which tied "Parts Unknown" six years ago and has been a multiple, if not consecutive, nominee since. The dark horse would be "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee," which was nominated last year. I'm still going with "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath," as it's a story about Hollywood, which Hollywood loves.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Black Patriots: Heroes of the Revolution (History)
David Attenborough on Seven Worlds, One Planet (Episode: "Antarctica") (BBC America)
Angela Bassett on The Imagineering Story (Episode: "The Happiest Place on Earth") (Disney+)
Chiwetel Ejiofor on The Elephant Queen (Apple TV+)
Lupita Nyong'o on Serengeti (Episode: "Destiny") (Discovery Channel)
What a list of all-star talent! Lupita Nyong'o is an Oscar winner, Angela Bassett is an Oscar nominee and Golden Globes winner, Chiwetel Ejiofor is an Oscar nominee, and David Attenborough is two-time returning winner
. On that basis, I'd say Sir David is the nominal favorite, although he's up against stiff competition. The nominee I'd look out for is Nyong'o because "Serengeti" is the only series with two nominations.
That reminds me that I'm used to seeing a lot of nature documentaries nominated at the Emmys, but that's not the case this year. I suspect that's because "Tiger King" sucked up all the oxygen that would normally go to shows about wild animals.
Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming
American Factory - Aubrey Keith, Erick Stoll (Netflix)
Apollo 11 - Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins (CNN)
Becoming - Nadia Hallgren (Netflix)
The Cave - Muhammed Khair Al Shami, Ammar Sulaiman, Mohammad Eyad (National Geographic)
Sea of Shadows - Richard Ladkani (National Geographic)
Serengeti - Richard Jones, Michael W. Richards, Warren Samuels, Matthew Goodman (Episode: "Rebirth") (Discovery Channel)
This is one of two categories that have three of the top documentaries, four if one counts "Becoming," competing against each other, so the competition is stiff. On the basis of number of nominations, I'd pick "Apollo 11," but it's up against "The Cave" and "American Factory," which are shot by professionals, while Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, while legendary astronauts and American heroes, are essentially amateur cameramen. The Emmy electorate might prefer the professionals, which give nature documentaries "Sea of Shadows" and "Serengeti" a chance.
Outstanding Main Title Design
Abstract: The Art of Design (Netflix)
Carnival Row (Prime Video)
Godfather of Harlem (Epix)
The Morning Show (Apple TV+)
The Politician (Netflix)
"Abstract: The Art of Design" is the one documentary nominated in this category. I'll have more to say about its chances when I see the rest of the nominees — before I wrote this I'd only seen "Carnival Row," "Watchmen," and "Westworld" — but I'll embed its video below.
Follow over the jump for the nominees I covered in 'Tiger King' vs. 'McMillion$' — big cats and true crime at the Emmy Awards for World Lion Day