‘Apollo 11’, ‘Tiger King’ Lead Documentary Emmy Nominations

Apollo 11 earned six Emmy nominations, including one for Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins’ cinematography


By Pat Mullen

Tiger King and Apollo 11 lead the documentary and non-fiction slate of this year’s Primetime Emmy nominations. Both docs received six nominations, and were somewhat vindicated by the kudos. Tiger King captivated audiences with its zany tale that provided welcome escapism during the early days of COVID-19 quarantines, but arguably faced considerable backlash from corners of the doc crowd, which found it ethically dubious for delivering entertainment at the sake of integrity.

Apollo 11, meanwhile, survived the awards race for a second round after coming up short at the Oscars. Todd Douglas Miller’s archival odyssey succeeded with the Emmys where it failed at the Oscars, sustaining industry buzz and hype through the end. The film was one of the major snubs on the morning of the Oscar nominations in January after it failed to land a nomination for Best Documentary Feature, marking the third consecutive year in which the doc branch snubbed the frontrunner (after Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and Jane missed previously). Apollo 11 landed the biggest novelty among this year’s Emmy nominations, too, with a shout-out for Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins in the category for Outstanding Cinematography. The film features ample footage shot by the astronauts during the Apollo 11 mission, marking a rare case in which an archival subject is acknowledged for his work fifty years after the fact.

Also nominated is this year’s Oscar winner American Factory, which scored three nominations, but failed to land a slot in the Outstanding Documentary category. The nominations for American Factory and Tiger King made for a good morning for Netflix, which received multiple citations for the Michael Jordan series The Last Dance and the Michelle Obama doc Becoming.

The full list of documentary Emmy nominations is below:

Outstanding Documentary or Non-Fiction Series

American Masters – Michael Kantor, Julie Sacks, Junko Tsunashima, Jeff Kaufman, Marcia S. Ross, Una Jackman, Suzi Dietz (PBS)
Hillary – Ben Silverman, Howard T. Owens, Nanette Burstein, Timothy Moran, Chi-Young Park, Tal Ben-David, Isabel San Vargas (Hulu)
McMillion$ – Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, Archie Gips, James Lee Hernandez, Brian Lazarte, Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller (HBO)
The Last Dance – Jason Hehir, Mike Tollin, Estee Portnoy, Curtis Polk, Connor Schell, Gregg Winik, Andrew Thompson (ESPN)
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness – Chris Smith, Fisher Stevens, Eric Goode, Rebecca Chaiklin (Netflix)

Outstanding Documentary or Non-Fiction Special

Beastie Boys Story – Jason Baum, Amanda Adelson, Spike Jonze, Mike Diamond, Adam Horovitz, Dechen Wangdu-Yauch, John Silva (Apple TV+)
Becoming – Lauren Cioffi, Katy Chevigny, Marilyn Ness, Priya Swaminathan, Tonia Davis (Netflix)
Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time – Erin Edeiken, Ryan Suffern, Frank Marshall, Alex Gibney, Stacey Offman, Richard Perello, Jeff Pollack (Epix)
The Apollo – Lisa Cortés, Jeanne Elfant Festa, Cassidy Hartmann, Roger Ross Williams, Dan Cogan, Nicholas Ferrall, Julie Goldman (HBO)
The Great Hack – Judy Korin, Pedro Kos, Karim Amer, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Nina Fialkow, Lyn Davis Lear, Mike Lerner (Netflix)

Outstanding Directing for a Documentary/Non-Fiction Program

American Factory – Steven Bognar, Julia Recihert (Netflix)
Apollo 11 – Todd Douglas Miller (CNN)
Becoming – Nadia Hallgren (Netflix)
The Cave – Feras Fayyad (National Geographic)
The Last Dance (“Episode 7”) – Jason Hehir (ESPN)
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (“Cult of Personality”) – Eric Goode, Rebecca Chaikklin (Netflix)

Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series or Special

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee – Jerry Seinfeld, Tammy Johnston, George Chapiro, Denis Jensen (Netflix)
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath – Leah Remini, Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Ray Dotch, Devon Graham Hammonds, Chris Rowe, Mike Rinder (A&E)
The World According to Jeff Goldblum – Jeff Goldblum, Jane Root, Peter Lovering, Keith Addis, Matt Renner, Arif Nurmohamed, John Hodgson (Disney+)
Ugly Delicious – Morgan Neville, Dara Horenblas, David Chang, Christopher Chen, Caryn Capotosto, Blake Davis, Chris Ying (Netflix)
Vice – Beverly Chase, Subrata De, Craig Thomson, Greg Wright (Showtime)

Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking

Chasing the Moon (American Experience) – Robert Stone, Susan Bellows, Mark Samels (PBS)
Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements – Tahria Sheather, Irene Taylor Brodsky, Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller (HBO)
One Child Nation – Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Sally Jo Fifer, Lois Vossen (PBS)
The Cave Kirstine Barfod, Sigrid Dyekjær (National Geographic)

Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction Program

Beastie Boys Story – Mike Diamond, Adam Horovitz, Spike Jonze
The Cave – Alisar Hasan, Feras Fayyad
Circus of Books – Rachel Mason, Kathryn Robson
Don’t F**k with Cats: Hunting An Internet Killer (“Closing the Net”) – Mark Lewis
McMillion$ (Episode 1) – James Lee Hernandez, Brian Lazart

Outstanding Cinematography for a Nonfiction Program

American Factory – Erick Stoll, Aubrey Keith
Apollo 11 – Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins
Becoming – Nadia Hallgren
The Cave – Muhammed Khair Al Shami, Ammar Suleiman, Mohammed Eyad
Sea Of Shadows – Richard Ladkani
Serengeti (“Rebirth”) – Richard Jones, Michael W. Richard, Warren Samuels, Matthew Goodman

Outstanding Picture Editing for a Nonfiction Program

American Factory – Lindsay Utz
Apollo 11 – Todd Douglas Miller
Beastie Boys Story – Buchanan, Zoe Schack
The Last Dance (Episode 1) – Chad Beck, Devin Concannon, Abhay Sofsky, Ben Sozanski
McMillion$ (Episode 3) – Jody McVeigh-Schultz, Lane Farnham, James Lee Hernandez, Brian Lazarte, Scott Hanson
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem And Madness (“Cult Of Personality”) – Doug Abel, Nicholas Biagetti, Dylan Hansen-Fliedner, Geoffrey Richman, Daniel Kohler

Outstanding Music Composition for a Documentary Series or Special (Original Dramatic Score)

Becoming – Kamasi Washington
Home (“Mine”) – Amanda Jones
McMillion$ (Episode 1) – Pinar Toprak, Alex Kovacs
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem And Madness (“Not Your Average Joe”) – Mark Mothersbaugh, John Enroth, Albert Fox
Why We Hate (“Tools & Tactics”) -Laura Karpman

Outstanding Sound Editing for a Nonfiction or Reality Program (Single or Multi-Camera)

Apollo 11 – Eric Milano
Beastie Boys Story – Martyn Zub, Paul Aulicino, Pernell Salinas
Cheer (“Daytona”) – Logan Byers, Kaleb Klinger, Sean Gray
Laurel Canyon: A Place In Time – Jonathan Greber
McMillion$ (Episode 1) – Ben Freer, Jordan Meltzer, Jody McVeigh-Schultz
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem And Madness (“Cult Of Personality”) – Ian Cymore, Rachel Wardell, Steve Griffen

Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Nonfiction or Reality Program (Single or Multi-Camera)

Apollo 11 – Eric Milano
Beastie Boys Story – William Tzouris, Jacob Feinberg, Martyn Zub
Cheer (“Daytona”) – Ryan David Adams
Laurel Canyon: A Place In Time – Gary A. Rizzo, Stephen Urata, Danielle Dupre, Tony Villaflor,
RuPaul’s Drag Race (“I’m That Bitch”) – Glenn Gaines, Ryan Brady, Erik Valenzuela, Sal Ojeda
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem And Madness (“The Noble Thing To Do”) – Jose Araujo, Royce Sharp, Jack Neu, Ian Cymore