Best Documentaries

by niamhbarrett | created - 07 Sep 2018 | updated - 5 months ago | Public

Best documentaries

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1. Planet Earth II (2016)

TV-G | 298 min | Documentary

David Attenborough returns in this breathtaking documentary showcasing life on Planet Earth.

Star: David Attenborough

Votes: 84,677

2. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)

PG-13 | 79 min | Documentary, Biography

83 Metascore

Die-hard gamers compete to break world records on classic arcade games.

Director: Seth Gordon | Stars: Steve Wiebe, Billy Mitchell, Mark Alpiger, Adam Wood

Votes: 33,771 | Gross: $0.68M

3. Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)

TV-MA | 94 min | Documentary

77 Metascore

A behind-the-scenes look at how Jim Carrey adopted the persona of idiosyncratic comedian Andy Kaufman on the set of Man on the Moon (1999).

Director: Chris Smith | Stars: Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Milos Forman, Peter Bonerz

Votes: 20,770

4. Alive Inside (2014)

Not Rated | 78 min | Documentary, News

67 Metascore

Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music & Memory, fights against a broken healthcare system to demonstrate music's ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it.

Director: Michael Rossato-Bennett | Stars: Dan Cohen, Louise Dueno, Nell Hardie, Norman Hardie

Votes: 2,870 | Gross: $0.15M

5. Stop Making Sense (1984)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary, Music

89 Metascore

An innovative concert movie for the rock group The Talking Heads.

Director: Jonathan Demme | Stars: David Byrne, Bernie Worrell, Alex Weir, Steven Scales

Votes: 11,544 | Gross: $5.02M

6. My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman (2018– )

TV-MA | 60 min | Talk-Show

Comedian David Letterman interviews people he finds fascinating.

Stars: David Letterman, George Clooney, Tina Fey, Nate Holden

Votes: 3,906

7. Blue Planet II (2017–2018)

TV-G | 364 min | Documentary

David Attenborough returns to the world's oceans in this sequel to the acclaimed documentary filming rare and unusual creatures of the deep, as well as documenting the problems our oceans face.

Stars: David Attenborough, Peter Drost, Roger Munns, François Morel

Votes: 26,927

8. Cosmos (2014)

TV-PG | 557 min | Documentary

An exploration of our discovery of the laws of nature and coordinates in space and time.

Stars: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Stoney Emshwiller, Piotr Michael, André Sogliuzzo

Votes: 102,517

9. Jodorowsky's Dune (2013)

PG-13 | 90 min | Documentary

79 Metascore

The story of cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky's ambitious but ultimately doomed film adaptation of the seminal science fiction novel.

Director: Frank Pavich | Stars: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Michel Seydoux, H.R. Giger, Chris Foss

Votes: 19,874 | Gross: $0.65M

10. Attenborough's Paradise Birds (2015)

60 min | Documentary

Birds of paradise are one of David Attenborough's lifelong passions. He was the first to film many of their beautiful and often bizarre displays, and over his lifetime he has tracked them ... See full summary »

Director: Miles Barton | Star: David Attenborough

Votes: 450

11. The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015)

TV-14 | 279 min | Documentary, Crime

Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki examines the complicated life of reclusive real estate icon Robert Durst, the key suspect in a series of unsolved crimes.

Stars: Robert Durst, Andrew Jarecki, Gary Napoli, Debra Kay Anderson

Votes: 35,631

12. Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom (2015)

Not Rated | 102 min | Documentary

79 Metascore

A documentary on the unrest in Ukraine during 2013 and 2014, as student demonstrations supporting European integration grew into a violent revolution calling for the resignation of President Viktor F. Yanukovich.

Director: Evgeny Afineevsky | Stars: Bishop Agapit, Catherine Ashton, Serhii Averchenko, Kristina Berdinskikh

Votes: 11,554

13. Cuba and the Cameraman (2017)

113 min | Documentary

82 Metascore

Life in Cuba for three struggling families over the course of 45 years, from the cautious optimism of the early 1970s to the harrowing 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union and the 2016 death of Fidel Castro.

Director: Jon Alpert

Votes: 2,133

14. ITV Exposure (2011– )
Episode: White Right: Meeting the Enemy (2017)

55 min | Documentary, News

Emmy award-winning film-maker Deeyah Khan joins the front line of the race wars in America, sitting down face-to-face with Neo-Nazis and fascists.

Director: Deeyah Khan | Stars: Deeyah Khan, Jeff Schoep, Brian Culpepper, Mike Schloer

Votes: 553

15. Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)

PG-13 | 91 min | Documentary, Sport

76 Metascore

Documentary about the pioneering 1970s Zephyr skating team.

Director: Stacy Peralta | Stars: Sean Penn, Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Jeff Ament

Votes: 11,710 | Gross: $1.29M

16. Samsara (I) (2011)

PG-13 | 102 min | Documentary, Music

65 Metascore

Filmed over nearly five years in twenty-five countries on five continents, and shot on seventy-millimetre film, Samsara transports us to the varied worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders.

Director: Ron Fricke | Stars: Balinese Tari Legong Dancers, Ni Made Megahadi Pratiwi, Puti Sri Candra Dewi, Putu Dinda Pratika

Votes: 31,077 | Gross: $2.67M

17. The Source Family (2012)

TV-14 | 98 min | Documentary, Music

62 Metascore

A charismatic leader founds a commune in Los Angeles in the early '70s based on natural food, spiritual practices and psychedelic rock. This short-lived era is recreated with archival material and the memories of participants.

Directors: Maria Demopoulos, Jodi Wille | Stars: Ahom Aquarian, Isis Aquarian, Elena Michaels, Father Yod

Votes: 1,010

18. Planet Earth (2006)

TV-PG | 538 min | Documentary

Emmy Award-winning, 11 episodes, five years in the making, the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC, and the first to be filmed in high definition.

Stars: David Attenborough, Sigourney Weaver, Huw Cordey, Doug Allan

Votes: 157,203

19. Last Chance U (2016– )

TV-MA | 55 min | Documentary, Sport

Intense look inside the world of junior college football, chronicling the stories of players and coaches in the classroom and on the field.

Stars: Ron Ollie, John III Franklin, Buddy Stephens, Brittany Wagner

Votes: 5,264

20. Life and Death Row (2014– )

Documentary

A BBC documentary that follows the lives of three American citizens on death row.

Star: Shaun Dooley

Votes: 297

21. Fourteen Days in May (1987)

87 min | Documentary

Fourteen Days in May is a documentary film directed by Paul Hamann and originally shown on television by the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1987. The programme recounts the final days ... See full summary »

Director: Paul Hamann | Stars: Bobby Butler, Donald Cabana, Melanie Christopher, Paul Hamann

Votes: 222

22. Louis Theroux: Dark States (2017)

177 min | Documentary

Louis Theroux visits three American cities and examines a uniquely devastating human crisis in each - opioid and heroin addiction in Huntington, sex trafficking in Houston, and murder in Milwaukee.

Stars: Louis Theroux, Stephen R. Basting, Shunta Boston-Smith, David Chaffin

Votes: 782

23. Louis Theroux: Talking to Anorexia (2017 TV Movie)

59 min | Documentary

Louis meets different people suffering from anorexia and sees how it impacts their family as well as their personal health.

Director: Ellena Wood | Stars: Louis Theroux, Frances Connan, James Kelly

Votes: 498

24. Capturing the Friedmans (2003)

Not Rated | 107 min | Documentary, Biography

90 Metascore

Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes.

Director: Andrew Jarecki | Stars: Arnold Friedman, Jesse Friedman, David Friedman, Elaine Friedman

Votes: 23,028 | Gross: $3.12M

25. Rain in my Heart (2006 TV Movie)

100 min | Documentary

Documentary on four alcoholics living in Kent, England.

Director: Paul Watson

Votes: 73

26. The Ivory Game (2016)

112 min | Documentary

73 Metascore

Wildlife activists in take on poachers in an effort to end illegal ivory trade in Africa.

Directors: Kief Davidson, Richard Ladkani | Stars: Andrea Crosta, Ian Stevenson, Prince William

Votes: 2,554

27. My Son the Jihadi (2015 TV Special)

47 min | Documentary

Channel 4 documentary about British mother, Sally Evans, whose son, Thomas, had been recruited - and joined - Islamist terrorist organisation, Al Shabaab, in Somalia.

Director: Peter Beard | Stars: Michael Evans, Sally Evans, Thomas Evans

Votes: 176

28. The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014)

Not Rated | 105 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

72 Metascore

The story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz, who took his own life at the age of 26.

Director: Brian Knappenberger | Stars: Aaron Swartz, Tim Berners-Lee, Cindy Cohn, Gabriella Coleman

Votes: 14,877 | Gross: $0.05M

29. Philip and His Seven Wives (2005)

70 min | Documentary

Six years ago God told former rabbi, Philip Sharp, that he was to become a Hebrew king. Philip then decided to take seven women to be his wives and created a new Godly family. Now they all ... See full summary »

Director: Marc Isaacs | Star: Philip Sharp

Votes: 50

30. Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends (1998–2000)

Not Rated | 60 min | Documentary

Louis Theroux documents some of the US's most bizarre happenings, events and rituals, by getting involved himself.

Stars: Louis Theroux, David Paul, Randy James, J.J. Michaels

Votes: 2,555

31. Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity (2015– )

60 min | Documentary

Louis investigates Ohio's state psychiatric hospitals, meeting patients who have committed crimes but have been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Stars: Michael G. Borack, Indre Rukseniene, Jonathan, Brian

Votes: 985

32. Louis Theroux: Savile (2016 TV Movie)

75 min | Documentary

In light of numerous allegations of abuse and sexual violence against the late Sir Jimmy Savile, Louis Theroux re-examines his media relationship with the enigmatic public figure.

Director: Arthur Cary | Stars: Louis Theroux, Jimmy Savile, Kat Ward, Jonathan Ross

Votes: 1,593

33. The Cove (2009)

PG-13 | 92 min | Documentary, Crime

84 Metascore

Using state-of-the-art equipment, a group of activists, led by renowned dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, infiltrate a cove near Taijii, Japan to expose both a shocking instance of animal abuse and a serious threat to human health.

Director: Louie Psihoyos | Stars: Richard O'Barry, Louie Psihoyos, Hardy Jones, Michael Illiff

Votes: 46,100 | Gross: $0.87M

34. 13th (2016)

TV-MA | 100 min | Documentary, Crime, News

88 Metascore

An in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation's history of racial inequality.

Director: Ava DuVernay | Stars: Melina Abdullah, Michelle Alexander, Cory Booker, Dolores Canales

Votes: 21,315

35. Zeitgeist (2007 Video)

Not Rated | 118 min | Documentary, History

Mythology and belief in society today, presenting uncommon perspectives of common cultural issues.

Director: Peter Joseph | Stars: Chogyam Trungpa, Jordan Maxwell, George Carlin, Bill Hicks

Votes: 47,109

36. Tower (2016)

TV-14 | 82 min | Documentary, Animation, Crime

92 Metascore

Animation, testimony, and archival footage combine to relate the events of August 1, 1966 when a gunman opened fire from the University of Texas clock tower, killing 16 people.

Director: Keith Maitland | Stars: Violett Beane, Louie Arnette, Blair Jackson, Monty Muir

Votes: 6,880 | Gross: $0.09M

37. Waking Sleeping Beauty (2009)

PG | 86 min | Documentary

70 Metascore

The story of the Disney Renaissance, an incredibly prolific, successful and prestigious decade lasting from 1984 to 1994 that saw the fallen Walt Disney Animation Studios' unexpected progressive triumphant return to excellence.

Director: Don Hahn | Stars: Roy Edward Disney, John Lasseter, Michael Eisner, Don Hahn

Votes: 2,254 | Gross: $0.08M

38. Bukowski: Born into This (2003)

R | 130 min | Documentary, Biography

77 Metascore

Documentary on Charles Bukowski, author of 'Notes of a Dirty Old Man', 'Love Is a Dog from Hell', and the autobiographical novels, 'Women', 'Hollywood', and 'Post Office'.

Director: John Dullaghan | Stars: Charles Bukowski, Bono, John Bryan, Linda Lee Bukowski

Votes: 3,244 | Gross: $0.30M

39. Making a Murderer (2015– )

TV-14 | 60 min | Documentary, Crime

Filmed over a 10-year period, Steven Avery, a DNA exoneree who, while in the midst of exposing corruption in local law enforcement, finds himself the prime suspect in a grisly new crime.

Stars: Dolores Avery, Steven Avery, Laura Nirider, Ken Kratz

Votes: 81,041

40. Louis Theroux: Extreme Love - Dementia (2012 TV Movie)

59 min | Documentary

Louis travels to Phoenix, Arizona - the capital of dementia care.

Director: Dan Child | Star: Louis Theroux

Votes: 742

41. Wonders of Life (2013– )

TV-PG | 59 min | Documentary

Physicist and professor Brian Cox travels across the globe to uncover the secrets of the most extraordinary phenomenon in the universe: life.

Star: Brian Cox

Votes: 1,423

42. The Keepers (II) (2017)

TV-MA | 436 min | Documentary, Crime

A seven-part docuseries about the unsolved murder of a nun and the horrific secrets and pain that linger nearly five decades after her death.

Stars: Gemma Hoskins, Abbie Schaub, Virginia Anzengruber, Jean Hargadon Wehner

Votes: 15,208

43. Bitter Lake (2015)

136 min | Documentary

An experimental documentary that explores Saudi Arabia's relationship with the U.S. and the role this has played in the war in Afghanistan.

Director: Adam Curtis | Stars: George Bush, George W. Bush, Joanne Herring, Hamid Karzai

Votes: 2,424

44. Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (2013)

R | 85 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

64 Metascore

The life and career of the legendary Hollywood insider, Shep Gordon.

Directors: Beth Aala, Mike Myers | Stars: Shep Gordon, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Douglas, Alice Cooper

Votes: 3,079 | Gross: $0.21M

45. Long Shot (2017 TV Short)

TV-14 | 40 min | Documentary, Short, Sport

When Juan Catalan is arrested for a murder he insists he didn't commit, he builds his case for innocence around raw footage from a popular TV show, "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Director: Jacob LaMendola | Stars: Tasha Boggs, Juan Catalan, Melissa Catalan, Miguel Catalan

Votes: 4,133