The Critics Choice Association (CCA) unveiled the winners of the Seventh Annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards at a gala event in New York City. Good Night Oppy took home five trophies in all including the top award of the evening, winning Gold for Best Documentary Feature. The film’s other victories were Ryan White for Best Director, Best Score for Blake Neely, as well as Best Narration (written by Helen Kearns and Ryan White, performed by Angela Bassett), and Best Science/Nature Documentary.

The Critics Choice Documentary Awards recognize the year’s finest achievements in documentaries released in theaters, on TV and on major digital platforms, as determined by the voting of qualified CCA members. 

This year, for the first time, the Critics went one step further and recognized the top three finishers in the category of Best Documentary Feature. Fire of Love was the Silver medal winner, while the Bronze medal went to Navalny.

Fire of Love also won Best Archival Documentary and Navalny was named Best Political Documentary.

Katia and Maurice Krafft of “Fire of Love”

The Beatles: Get Back was another of the evening’s double award-winners, with wins for both Best Music Documentary and Best Limited Documentary Series.

The award for Best First Documentary Feature went to David Siev for Bad Axe.

Brett Morgen took home the award for Best Editing for Moonage Daydream. 

Sidney Poiter

Descendant was named Best Historical Documentary.

The Best Biographical Documentary award was given to Sidney. 

There was a tie for Best Sports Documentary with both Citizen Ashe and Welcome to Wrexham winning in the category.

The Best Short Documentary was awarded to Nuisance Bear.

30 for 30 won the Best Ongoing Documentary Series award.

At the ceremony, the Pennebaker Award was presented to acclaimed documentarian Barbara Kopple. The award, formerly known as the Critics Choice Lifetime Achievement Award, is named in honor of D A Pennebaker, a past winner. It was presented to Kopple by Chris Hegedus, Pennebaker’s long-time collaborator and widow.

Award-winning documentarian Dawn Porter received the prestigious Critics Choice Impact Award which recognizes documentarians whose work has resulted in tangible societal changes, presented by Jacqueline Glover, Head of Documentary at Disney’s Onyx Collective.

Christopher Campbell, Co-President of the Critics Choice Association’s Documentary Branch said, “Tonight was a whole new Doc Awards – hosting the ceremony in a new, bigger venue in Manhattan and streaming it live for the first time. We are thrilled to continue the celebration of so many groundbreaking and thought-provoking films while highlighting the works of so many brilliant filmmakers.”

“This evening was magical and we were once again able to celebrate an amazing talent pool of women like the legendary Barbara Kopple and the ferociously brave Dawn Porter.  Both women continue to blaze trails for the many generations poised to follow in their footsteps,” stated Carla Renata, Co-President of the Critics Choice Association’s Documentary Branch. “It has been thrilling to witness and honor such distinguished documentarians.  Their impressive art spanned subjects that made us weep or made our hearts swell, proving that documentary film – and its power to educate, inform, and inspire – remains a viable and pliable form of the cinematic landscape.”

Hosted by Wyatt Cenac, the star-studded event featured presenters and attendees including Rob McElhenney, Idina Menzel, Jeremy Sisto, Paul Shaffer, Brett Morgen, Kathy Ireland, Reginald Hudlin, Richard Kind, Reginald Hudlin, Soledad O’Brien, Tonya Lewis Lee, Tamara Tunie, Ryan White, Erich Bergen, Andrew Jarecki, Shoshana Bean, and Willie Colón, among others.

For the second year in a row,  the Critics Choice Documentary Awards welcomed National Geographic Documentary Films as the Presenting Sponsor.

Moonage Daydream

The Catalyst Sponsors for the Seventh Annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards were Netflix, Peacock, and Showtime Documentary Films.

Last year at the Sixth Annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards, Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) received the award for every category in which it was nominated, including the evening’s most prestigious award for Best Documentary Feature, as well as Best Director (TIE), Best First Documentary Feature, Best Editing, Best Archival Documentary, and Best Music Documentary. Subsequently, the film took home the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature Film.

To stream the ceremony, learn more about the Critics Choice Documentary Awards, and see the full list of winners, visit the Critics Choice Association website.

Winners of the Seventh Annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards



Gold: Good Night Oppy (Amazon Studios)

Silver: Fire of Love (National Geographic Documentary Films/Neon)

Bronze: Navalny (HBO Max/CNN Films/Warner Bros. Pictures)


Ryan White – Good Night Oppy (Amazon Studios)


David Siev – Bad Axe (IFC Films)


The Cinematography Team – Our Great National Parks (Netflix)


Brett Morgen – Moonage Daydream (Neon/HBO Documentary Films)


Blake Neely – Good Night Oppy (Amazon Studios)


Good Night Oppy (Amazon Studios)

   Written by Helen Kearns, Ryan White

   Performed by Angela Bassett


Fire of Love (National Geographic Documentary Films/Neon)


Descendant (Netflix)


Sidney (Apple TV+)


The Beatles: Get Back (Disney+)


Navalny (HBO Max/CNN Films/Warner Bros. Pictures)


Good Night Oppy (Amazon Studios)

Citizen Ashe


Citizen Ashe (HBO Max/CNN Films)

Welcome to Wrexham (FX)


Nuisance Bear (The New Yorker Studios)


The Beatles: Get Back (Disney+)


30 for 30 (ESPN)

The Beatles: Get Back

About the Critics Choice Awards

The Critics Choice Documentary Awards are an offshoot of the Critics Choice Awards, which are bestowed annually by the CCA to honor the finest in cinematic and television achievement. Historically, the Critics Choice Awards are the most accurate predictor of Academy Award nominations.

The Critics Choice Awards ceremony will be held on January 15, 2023 at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Century City, CA, and will be broadcast live on the CW.

About the Critics Choice Association (CCA) 

The Critics Choice Association is the largest critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 580 media critics and entertainment journalists. It was established in 2019 with the formal merger of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, in recognition of the intersection between film, television, and streaming content. For more information, visit:

By Alex McPherson
Director Ryan White’s “Assassins” is a scathing indictment of North Korean politics and a timely reminder of the lengths that some people will go to retain power.

On February 13, 2017, Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of Kim Jong-un, was fatally poisoned in broad daylight at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia. Security cameras recorded two young women, the Indonesian-born Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese-born Doan Thi Huong, carrying out the deed, rinsing the poison off their hands, and leaving the airport. Siti and Doan were arrested a couple days later, seemingly oblivious to the gravity of what they had just done. Per the Malaysian legal system, they both faced the death penalty if found guilty of the murder. Are Siti and Doan highly skilled assassins, or are they mere pawns being controlled by larger forces?

White’s film, composed of interviews with those involved in the events themselves and the investigation, seeks to uncover these answers. As the larger plot is unearthed, “Assassins” becomes a persuasive ode to journalism and empathy for those marginalized, arguing for justice in a world plagued by selfishness and brutality. The film often proves heartbreaking, upsetting, and downright infuriating. We witness the truth being obscured by power hungry individuals only interested in protecting themselves, no matter the cost. 

Through relying on plain-spoken interviewees, this increasingly complex tale is presented in an accessible fashion, ensuring that practically anyone can get wrapped up in the proceedings. Expectations might be subverted, and previous notions of culpability and victimhood may be upended — all through the film’s empathetic eye and outlining of cold, hard evidence.

While White’s filmmaking lacks a distinctive style, the central events and subsequent investigation are more than enough to keep viewers engaged. In a way, though, the film doesn’t need additional cinematic flourishes to render it compelling. Feelings of dread and suspense are palpable, and it’s easy to become enthralled by the film’s drama based on the subjects alone. White’s film is a no-frills affair, embracing the journalistic process and taking time to explore the backgrounds of Siti and Doan, as well as North Korea generally, with strong attention to detail.

Indeed, as we learn more about Siti and Doan — who had no previous connections to North Korea — we see two individuals being exploited by larger pressures operating behind the scenes, leading them down a path that, unbeknownst to them, involved political assassination. Siti and Doan’s portrayals aren’t simplified for dramatic purposes, and “Assassins” quickly establishes them as sympathetic individuals, coming from loving families and humble origins, with their own hopes and dreams, but remaining vulnerable and naive amid a world drenched in ambiguity.

“Assassins” also provides a blunt crash course on North Korean history, detailing the rivalry between Kim Jong-un and Kim Jong-nam. The film makes a strong argument that, well, Kim Jong-un is an unstable, murderous leader, as if that wasn’t already obvious — all the more nauseating that former President Donald Trump cuddled up to him.

By the film’s conclusion, I was shaken, and surprised at how emotionally invested I had become in Siti and Doan’s struggles. I’m grateful that films like “Assassins” exist to help spotlight individuals and truths previously silenced — depicting human stories with universal appeal and sobering repercussions for modern society. This gripping documentary, in particular, remains among the most effective I’ve ever seen, and is unquestionably worth seeking out. 

“Assassins” is a documentary directed by Ryan White. It is 104 minutes. It is available Video on Demand on multiple platforms. Alex Rating: A .