What Might Have Been the Golden Globe Nominees for Best Documentary of 2019?

The HFPA doesn’t honor nonfiction anymore, but if they did…

arnold schwarzenegger game changers
ReFuel Productions

Every year, documentaries become a little more popular, and every year, the Golden Globes pretend they don’t exist. This marks 43 years now that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has done without the Best Documentary Film category, which had a short life in the 1970s after a single instance in the 1950s.

At a time when multiple docs are succeeding at the box office and we seem to be closer than ever to a doc finally receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Picture (or so I predict will happen in the next decade), you’d think they’d want to recognize nonfiction films again. At least for all the projects involving celebrities these days.

Once again, just to point out the Golden Globes’ lack and to acknowledge their presumed reason being that docs don’t feature famous people they want to meet and have lunch with, I’ve compiled a list of likely contenders for the category if the HFPA had brought it back. These are the most celeb-heavy docs of 2019:

Anthropocene: The Human EpochAlicia Vikander, who hit a double at the Golden Globes back in 2016 for her performances in Ex Machina and The Danish Girl, is the narrator of this cinematic environmental issue film.

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-BlachéJodie Foster, the narrator of this film looking back on the first woman filmmaker, was first nominated by the HFPA the year the Golden Globes last recognized documentaries. She has since then been nominated six more times, the last time seven years ago for the forgotten Roman Polanski drama Carnage. And she’s won twice. She also received the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2013. The HFPA loves her. And she was also an executive producer of the doc, along with fellow Cecil B. DeMille Award recipient Robert Redford.

The Elephant Queen — Apple is on the board thanks to The Morning Show this year, but they could have had even more of a presence with a documentary category and a likely nomination for this nature film narrated by three-time Golden Globe contender Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Emanuel — This underrated documentary about the Charleston church shooting in 2015 deserves more recognition than it’s received. Thanks to an executive producer credit for Golden Globe winner Viola Davis, maybe the HFPA could have been the one organization to do the right thing and nominate the film.

Framing John DeloreanAlec Baldwin, who has won three Golden Globes out of 11 nominations, stars as the titular carmaker in this biographical documentary featuring dramatizations. Morena Baccarin and Golden Globe nominee Josh Charles also star.

The Game Changers — We can’t go a year of doing these imagined Golden Globes doc nominees without including a film promoting vegetarianism. This one focused on plant-based diets for athletes is produced by James Cameron, Jackie Chan, and Golden Globe winner Arnold Schwarzenegger, who also appears as a talking head.

Homecoming: A Film by BeyoncéBeyoncé received a Golden Globe nomination this year for her song “Spirit” from Disney’s The Lion King. What if she could have also been recognized for her directing with a nod to this concert film documenting her 2018 Coachella performances?

Ice on FireLeonardo DiCaprio, who is nominated this year for his lead role in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, once again proves the need for docs being awarded at the Golden Globes by producing and narrating another climate change issue film.

Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People — This biographical film’s narrator, Adam Driver, is one of many people actually nominated this year who are attached to docs that would have gotten them extra recognition had there been a doc category. Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People also features the voices of Sebastian Stan, Lauren Ambrose, Hugh Dancy, Billy Magnussen, Tim Blake Nelson, and Golden Globes favorites Rachel Brosnahan and Liev Schreiber.

The Lavender ScareGlenn Close has been nominated 13 times and has won three Golden Globes, including the Best Actress – Drama award last year. As narrator of this film, which also features the voices of Zachary Quinto and multiple Golden Globe nominees David Hyde Pierce and Cynthia Nixon, she would have made this a strong contender in a doc category.

Loopers: The Caddie’s Long Walk — This golf documentary not only is narrated by golf lover Bill Murray but it also features the six-time Golden Globe nominee and one-time winner on screen.

Love, Antosha — A lot of stars came out to share their love for Anton Yelchin in this biographical documentary about the late actor. Golden Globe winner Nicolas Cage is among those involved, sort of narrating parts of the film while reading from the subject’s writings.

The Many Lives of Nick Buoniconti — The already mentioned Liev Schreiber has been nominated six times for Golden Globes, five of them for Ray Donovan. He also narrated this documentary about the titular NFL Hall of Famer.

PavarottiRon Howard, who is a Golden Globe winner for acting on the small screen, has been nominated three times for directing. But despite his continued achievements in nonfiction film — with Pavarotti his best yet — he’s never received one for his documentaries. Because the Golden Globes don’t award documentaries!

Penguins — Disneynature always finds themselves in this list and would probably be a regular Golden Globes nominee if they had a doc category thanks to their constant appeal to masses with celebrity voiceover. This one is narrated by Ed Helms.

QT8: The First Eight Quentin Tarantino has received nine Golden Globe nominations, including the two he got this year for Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. He’s won twice, only for writing. This documentary focuses on the HFPA favorite and his many Golden Globe-nominated movies.

Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese — There’s the name right there in the title. No, not Dylan (who is a Golden Globe winner for his Wonder Boys song). Martin Scorsese, who is already nominated this year for The Irishman. Rolling Thunder Revue is his other deserving Netflix film of 2019.

Sea of ShadowsLeonardo DiCaprio appears on this list a second time for being an executive producer of Sea of Shadows, a thrilling issue film about one of the most endangered species on the planet, the vaquita.

SerendipityAngelina Jolie and Darren Aronofsky are executive producers of this film by and starring artist Prune Noury. The lovable late filmmaker Agnes Varda is also part of the fun.

Western Stars Bruce Springsteen has won both Golden Globes he was nominated for, and now that he’s co-directed a film focused on himself and his music, this would likely be a shoo-in for a nomination, as well.

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.