'Moonage Daydream' Wins The Most Deserving Award Of The Year

Among this year's winners at the Cinema Eye Honors, Moonage Daydream expectedly and deservedly was recognized for Best Sound Design.

David Bowie in Moonage Daydream

If Moonage Daydream hadn’t won the Cinema Eye Honor for Best Sound Design, then nothing would have ever made sense again. Brett Morgen’s documentary celebrating the life and music of David Bowie is exceptional in many areas, but its sound design is probably its most obvious yet still most remarkable achievement. As expected, and much deserved, Moonage Daydream indeed won the award for its sound design at the 16th annual Cinema Eye Honors last night, recognizing the work of Samir Foco, John Warhurst, and Nina Hartsone, along with numerous non-nominated individuals who were also involved in the triumphant component of the film.

I hate to speculate what the award means for the Oscars. I don’t mean for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, which has only matched four times with the Cinema Eye Honor for Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking (this year’s winner of the latter, All That Breathes, is at least on the Oscar shortlist for the category). Instead, I’m wondering and hoping that the Academy will properly acknowledge Moonage Daydream in the Best Sound category. The documentary has already made a rare appearance on the Sound Branch’s shortlist (it’s also on the shortlist for Best Documentary Feature). Sadly, no awards pundits are predicting a nomination for the film.

The last and only time a documentary was nominated for Best Sound was in 1971. Woodstock was nominated for three Oscars, also including Best Editing and Best Documentary Feature, which it won. Moonage Daydream is similarly a music doc but not a concert film, and its sound design is potentially more deliberate and ambitious in its use of existing music tracks and newly added layers of audio collage. One only has to be following Brett Morgen on social media lately to become aware of just how much effort was put into the sound design of his documentary. Heck, they even rented out a football stadium for the grandiose project, which was best experienced theatrically with the best cinema sound system.

Moonage Daydream was also recently nominated for best sound mixing for a feature documentary by the Cinema Audio Society while the film has been shortlisted for a BAFTA for its editing (it’s also shortlisted for the best documentary category). The only other major honor that it had received so far is a Critics Choice Documentary Award for Best Editing. It also tied for the Cinema Eye Honor for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Design last night. The work that went into piecing together this film is just tremendous, and it’s deserving of everything it’s won and will hopefully win in the future in these craft categories, in particular, where they might exist.

Here is the full list of winners at the 16th annual Cinema Eye Honors:

Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking
All That Breathes
Directed and Produced by Shaunak Sen
Produced by Aman Mann and Teddy Leifer

Outstanding Achievement in Direction
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
Laura Poitras

Outstanding Achievement in Editing
Fire of Love
Erin Casper and Jocelyne Chaput

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography
All That Breathes
Ben Bernhard and Riju Das

Outstanding Achievement in Production
Odessa Rae, Diane Becker, Melanie Miller and Shane Boris

Outstanding Achievement in Original Score
Fire of Love
Nicolas Godin

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design
Moonage Daydream
Samir Foco, John Warhurst and Nina Hartstone

Outstanding Achievement in Visual Design (tie)
Fire of Love
Lucy Munger, Kara Blake, and Rui Ting Ji

Moonage Daydream
Stefan Nadelman

Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film
The Territory
Directed by Alex Pritz

Audience Choice Prize
Directed by Daniel Roher

Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Film for Broadcast
Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes
Directed by James Jones | HBO Documentary Films/HBO Max

Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Series
Black and Missing
Directed by Geeta Gandbhir and Samantha Knowles | HBO Documentary Films/HBO Max

Outstanding Achievement in Anthology Series
How To with John Wilson (Season 2)
Nathan Fielder, Michael Koman, Clark Reinking, and John Wilson, Executive Producers | HBO

Outstanding Achievement in Editing in a Nonfiction Film or Series for Broadcast
We Need to Talk About Cosby
Meg Ramsay | Showtime

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in a Nonfiction Film or Series for Broadcast
Playing With Sharks
Michael Taylor, Judd Overton, Nathan Barlow, and Toby Ralph | Disney+

Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Short Filmmaking
Nuisance Bear
Directed by Jack Weisman and Gabriela Osio Vanden

Legacy Award
Directed by Terry Zwigoff

Heterodox Award
Directed by Charlotte Wells

Spotlight Award
Master of Light
Directed by Rosa Ruth Boesten

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.