Monday, September 28, 2020

'The Cave,' 'Apollo 11,' and 'American Factory' — winning documentaries at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards examined politics and government

After writing about Sandy Hook Promise and Discovery Channel's Shark Week winning Emmy Awards for commercials, it's time to move on to winners for more substantial efforts, documentary features. To that end, it's time to look at the winners out of the films and categories I covered last month in 'The Cave' vs. 'American Factory' — Oscar nominees and other documentaries at the Emmy Awards.

While I featured "The Cave" and "American Factory" in the title of the nominees post because the first was nominated for an Oscar and the second won one, it was one of the other documentaries, "Apollo 11," that won the most Emmy Awards of the nominated documentaries, three, while "The Cave" earned two and "American Factory" took home only one. That written, I begin with "The Cave" because it won the most prestigious category for a documentary at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking.

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.
Now the announcement of the winner for Merit in Documentary Filmmaking from the Television Academy.

The team from The Cave wins the Emmy for Outstanding Merit in Documentary Filmmaking.
Handicapping on the numbers worked, as "The Cave" won. It also won the next award.

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.
And now, the video of the announcement, 2020 Creative Arts Emmys: Cinematography for a Non-Fiction Program.

The team from The Cave wins the Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography for a Non-Fiction Program.
I was right that it went to professionals instead of amateurs. Congratulations to the crew of "The Cave" for winning two Emmy Awards. You deserve it, especially after beating Oscar winner "American Factory."

"American Factory" did not leave empty-handed, as it won the next award.

Outstanding Directing for a Documentary/Nonfiction Program

Steven Bognar & Julia Reichert, American Factory (Netflix)
Todd Douglas Miller, Apollo 11 (CNN)
Nadia Hallgren, Becoming (Netflix)
Feras Fayyad, The Cave (National Geographic Channel)
Jason Hehir, The Last Dance (Episode: "Episode 7") (ESPN)
Eric Goode & Rebecca Chaiklin, Tiger King (Episode: "Cult of Personality") (Netflix)
This is one tough category for "Tiger King" and "The Last Dance," as both series are up against not only the Oscar nominated "The Cave," but also Critics' Choice Documentary Award and Golden Coffee Cup Movie winner "Apollo 11" and Oscar winner "American Factory." Even "Becoming" about former First Lady Michelle Obama is a serious contender, as it earned a total of four nominations including Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special, directing, and two others. No wonder "McMillion$" didn't make the cut! As for which show will win, I would bet on "American Factory," the Oscar recipient.
I was right! "American Factory" won this category! Unfortunately, the Television Academy did not upload a video. To make up for it, here is "American Factory" wins Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards.

Mark Ruffalo presents Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert and Jeff Reichert with the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for "American Factory" at the 92nd Oscars in 2020.

Better late than never, as I never did recap the Oscar winners, just the nominees. Tsk, tsk, shame on me. Here's to a belated congratulations to "American Factory" for both the Oscar and the Emmy.

Follow over the jump for the three Emmy Awards won by "Apollo 11."

My favorite documentary of 2019 was "Apollo 11," which won two Golden Coffee Cups this past May. As I wrote above, it won three Emmy Awards, beginning with the next category.
Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming

American Factory – Lindsay Utz (Netflix) Apollo 11 – Todd Douglas Miller (CNN) Beastie Boys Story – Jeff Buchanan, Zoe Schack (Apple TV+) The Last Dance – Chad Beck, Devin Concannon, Abhay Sofsky, Ben Sozanski (Episode: "Episode 1") (ESPN) McMillion$ – Jody McVeigh-Schultz, Lane Farnham, James Lee Hernandez, Brian Lazarte, Scott Hanson (Episode: "Episode 3") (HBO) Tiger King – Doug Abel, Nicholas Biagetti, Dylan Hansen-Fliedner, Geoffrey Richman, Daniel Kohler (Episode: "Cult of Personality") (Netflix)
This is another tough category, although I think "The Last Dance" has a better chance here than in the other two, despite the fierce competition. First, it has a lot of old footage and editing is the one thing that makes that work, although the same could be said about "Apollo 11," which I think is one of the favorites. Second, Hollywood loves a good story about entertainment, and sports counts, although music counts more, helping "Beastie Boys Story." That written, I think Oscar winner "American Factory" has the best chance. "The Last Dance" may have to be satisfied with its Black Reel Awards for Television 2020 win for Outstanding TV Documentary or Special, at least until the Critics' Choice Documentary Awards this fall, where it might qualify for Best Sports Documentary.
I was right to think that "Apollo 11' was one of the favorites, as it won, beating out the one movie I though could beat it, "American Factory."* Unfortunately, the Television Academy didn't upload a clip of it winning. They did tweet out this nice image, however.

Next, two categories I originally considered in 'Tiger King' vs. 'McMillion$' — big cats and true crime at the Emmy Awards for World Lion Day.
Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)

Apollo 11 (CNN)
Beastie Boys Story (AppleTV+)
Cheer (Episode: "Daytona") (Netflix)
Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time (EPIX)
McMillion$ (HBO)
Tiger King (Episode: "Cult of Personality") (Netflix)
Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Program (Single or Multi-Camera)

Apollo 11 (CNN)
Beastie Boys Story (Apple TV+)
Cheer ("Daytona") (Netflix)
Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time (EPIX)
RuPaul's Drag Race (Episode: "I'm That Bitch") (VH1)
Tiger King (Episode: "The Noble Thing to Do") (Netflix)
"Apollo 11" is the nominee I'm rooting for, but my experience is that music documentaries have the best track record in sound categories, so I think "Beastie Boys Story" is the favorite.
These are also the other two categories with nominations for "Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time," so according to my criterion, it would be the other favorite.
Much to my pleasant surprise, "Apollo 11" beat the music documentaries, true crime series, and reality shows to win both categories. Here are the videos of the acceptances of these awards. First, 2020 Creative Arts Emmys: Sound Editing for a Non-Fiction or Reality Program.

The team from Apollo 11 wins the Emmy for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Non-Fiction or Reality Program (Single or Multi-Camera).
I agree, get money out of politics.

Next, watch 2020 Creative Arts Emmys: Sound Mixing for a Non-Fiction or Reality Program.

The team from Apollo 11 wins the Emmy for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Non-Fiction or Reality Program (Single or Multi-Camera).
The nominees clips may be different, but the acceptance speech was the same. Not only is Eric Milano a vegan, he likes to recycle, too!

Congratulations to all the all the documentary feature winners, "American Factory" for its one Emmy, "The Cave" for winning two, and "Apollo 11" for being the big documentary winner at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards with three!

*While I was right about "The Last Dance" not winning this category, I was dead wrong about its overall chances at winning any award. That's a story for another entry. Stay tuned.
Previous posts about the 2020 Primetime and Creative Arts Emmy Awards

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