For almost 30 years, Michael Moore has been one of the most significant documentarians in the world. Since the release of his debut, Roger & Me, in 1989 by Warner Bros., the filmmaker has been an influential figure in nonfiction cinema and political activism, and early on he became perhaps the only real household name in his field. Moore has won an Oscar, the Palme d’Or (a rare feat for docs), box office success, critical acclaim, he’s conquered reality television and the stage. He’s only 64 years old, but he’s achieved a lot in his life.
Therefore, it’s time for him to receive a lifetime achievement honor. The Broadcast Film Critics Association and Broadcast Television Journalists Association have announced Moore will be recognized at this year’s Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards held in Brooklyn on November 10th. Past recipients of the Critics’ Choice Lifetime Achievement Award include Errol Morris in 2017 and D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus in 2016. This will be the third year for the event, which split from the main Critics’ Choice Awards.
When the BFCA included a single award for Best Documentary Feature at the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, which began in 1995, Moore won that honor three times — in 2002 with Bowling for Columbine, in 2004 with Fahrenheit 9/11, and in 2007 with Sicko. He was also nominated in 2009 for Capitalism: A Love Story and in 2015 for Where to Invade Next. This year, Moore has another qualified film, Fahrenheit 11/9. Nominations for the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards will be announced on October 12th.
In my review of Fahrenheit 11/9, I noted that this seems like the film Moore has been building up to his whole life and career: “Fahrenheit 11/9 comes across as a final rallying cry. In covering so much ground, it’s the ultimate Michael Moore movie, in its dealing with an issue in Flint, spotlighting a major school shooting, taking on the president and capitalistic motivations of politicians, and highlighting a ridiculous health insurance situation. He even slips in footage from Roger & Me and Bowling for Columbine.”
The film might not have much influence over this fall’s midterm elections or the possibility of impeachment of Donald Trump. His past films didn’t inspire stronger gun control laws or impact the 2004 election as desired. Still, he continues to enlighten while he entertains and provokes his audiences like no other. Moore is surely an inspiration to many people politically, though, and he’s certainly an influence on tons of documentary filmmakers who have come after him, particularly in the style of first-person perspective issue films.
The 3rd annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards will take place on the Saturday following Election Day, so I’m anticipating an interesting speech from Moore regardless of which way Americans vote this November. The ceremony will be hosted by Bill Nye, another politically outspoken figure, and he along with the presenters and winners might have something to say about the midterms or the country in general, as well. This should be a big occasion for docs, which are already having a notable year, mainly box office-wise.
As a member of the BFCA and BTJA and one of the nominating committee chairs for this event, I’ll be attending the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards and will hopefully report back, at least in part during the ceremony on Twitter, both from my personal handle and the Nonfics account.