HBO’s ‘Bully. Coward. Victim.’ documentary on Roy Cohn gets key nominations — will Oscars be next?

“Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn” is collecting nominations on the pathway to Oscar season. The film just earned two bids from Cinema Eye Honors, an awards group that honors nonfiction films and series as voted on by programmers and experts. The HBO doc, which chronicles the life of Roy Cohn, former attorney to Donald Trump, earned bids in the categories of Outstanding Broadcast Film and Outstanding Editing in a Broadcast Film or Series. In both cases it was nominated in a field of five, beating out tough competition, which could make it one of the films to watch in the upcoming Best Documentary Feature race at the Oscars.

Directed by Ivy Meeropol, “Bully. Coward. Victim.” is a sprawling look at Cohn’s impact in the legal world, delving into his time spent not only with Trump but Joseph McCarthy, Ronald Reagan and Rupert Murdoch. The film exposes Cohn’s approach to life, with his philosophy of refusing to admit defeat and how he influenced Trump, which continues to resonate today. Additionally, there is the added layer of Cohn’s hypocritical personal life as a gay man who also made efforts to remove other gays from government positions.

The film also offers a unique angle in that Meeropol is the granddaughter of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were famously convicted for espionage by Cohn’s direct recommendation. Meeropol interviews her father, Michael Meeropol, who provides his unique perspective on his parents’ life and his work advocating for them.

“Bully. Coward. Victim.” was recently added to the Academy’s online screening room for documentary branch members, and with its striking title and subject matter, it might stand out from the pack. Cohn was one of the more significant public figures from the ’50s through the ’80s and those who know him as Trump’s former attorney might be curious to see the extent of his life story, particularly for his mentorship of the future president.

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