Best Documentaries

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1. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

82 Metascore

A filmmaker decides to memorialize a murdered friend when his friend's ex-girlfriend announces she is expecting his son.

Director: Kurt Kuenne | Stars: Kurt Kuenne, Andrew Bagby, David Bagby, Kathleen Bagby

Votes: 30,332

2. Devil's Freedom (2017)

74 min | Documentary

A documentary about the violence in Mexico told from the word of those who have suffered the pain and those who make the pain.

Director: Everardo González

Votes: 411

3. LA 92 (2017)

R | 114 min | Documentary, History

66 Metascore

Twenty-five years after the verdict in the Rodney King trial sparked several days of protests, violence and looting in Los Angeles, filmmakers examine that tumultuous period through rarely seen archival footage.

Directors: Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin | Stars: Henry Alfaro, Danny Bakewell, John D. Barnett, Bart Bartholomew

Votes: 2,805

4. Playing (2007)

100 min | Documentary, Drama

Following a newspaper ad, ordinary women tell part of their life stories to director Eduardo Coutinho, which are then re-enacted by actresses, blurring the barriers between truth, fiction and interpretation.

Director: Eduardo Coutinho | Stars: Marília Pêra, Andrea Beltrão, Fernanda Torres, Aleta Gomes Vieira

Votes: 906

5. 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: 22,804 | Gross: $3.12M

6. I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

PG-13 | 93 min | Documentary

95 Metascore

Writer James Baldwin tells the story of race in modern America with his unfinished novel, Remember This House.

Director: Raoul Peck | Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X

Votes: 14,664 | Gross: $7.12M

7. Finding Vivian Maier (2013)

Not Rated | 83 min | Documentary, Biography, Mystery

75 Metascore

A documentary on the late Vivian Maier, a nanny whose previously unknown cache of 100,000 photographs earned her a posthumous reputation as one of the most accomplished street photographers.

Directors: John Maloof, Charlie Siskel | Stars: Vivian Maier, John Maloof, Daniel Arnaud, Simon Amédé

Votes: 12,314 | Gross: $1.51M

8. Tempestad (2016)

105 min | Documentary

78 Metascore

The emotional journeys of two women victimized by corruption and injustice in Mexico and of the love, dignity and resistance that allowed them to survive.

Director: Tatiana Huezo

Votes: 316

9. Citizenfour (2014)

R | 114 min | Documentary, Biography, News

88 Metascore

A documentarian and a reporter travel to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with Edward Snowden.

Director: Laura Poitras | Stars: Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, William Binney, Jacob Appelbaum

Votes: 49,338 | Gross: $2.80M

10. Ex Libris: New York Public Library (2017)

197 min | Documentary

91 Metascore

A look within the walls of the New York Public Library.

Director: Frederick Wiseman | Stars: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Elvis Costello, Richard Dawkins, Edmund de Waal

Votes: 897 | Gross: $0.16M

11. The Salt of the Earth (2014)

PG-13 | 110 min | Documentary, Biography, History

83 Metascore

The life and work of photographer Sebastião Salgado, who has spent forty years documenting deprived societies in hidden corners of the world.

Directors: Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, Wim Wenders | Stars: Sebastião Salgado, Wim Wenders, Lélia Wanick Salgado, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado

Votes: 17,838 | Gross: $1.34M

12. Peace (I) (2010)

Not Rated | 75 min | Documentary, Drama, History

What is peace? What is coexistence? And what are the basis for them? PEACE is a visual-essay-like observational documentary, which contemplates these questions by observing the daily lives ... See full summary »

Director: Kazuhiro Sôda | Stars: Shiro Hashimoto, Hiroko Kashiwagi, Toshio Kashiwagi

Votes: 195

13. Faces Places (2017)

PG | 94 min | Documentary

94 Metascore

Director Agnes Varda and photographer/muralist J.R. journey through rural France and form an unlikely friendship.

Directors: JR, Agnès Varda | Stars: Agnès Varda, JR, Jeannine Carpentier, Clemens Van Dungern

Votes: 9,041 | Gross: $0.95M

14. Why We Fight (2005)

PG-13 | 98 min | Documentary, History, War

68 Metascore

Is American foreign policy dominated by the idea of military supremacy? Has the military become too important in American life? Jarecki's shrewd and intelligent polemic would seem to give an affirmative answer to each of these questions.

Director: Eugene Jarecki | Stars: Gore Vidal, John McCain, Ken Adelman, John Ashcroft

Votes: 9,601 | Gross: $1.44M

15. Blackfish (2013)

PG-13 | 83 min | Documentary, News

83 Metascore

A documentary following the controversial captivity of killer whales, and its dangers for both humans and whales.

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite | Stars: Tilikum, Dave Duffus, Samantha Berg, Dean Gomersall

Votes: 58,016 | Gross: $2.07M

16. Bus 174 (2002)

R | 122 min | Documentary, Crime

83 Metascore

Documentary depicts what happened in Rio de Janeiro on June 12th 2000, when bus 174 was taken by an armed young man, threatening to shoot all the passengers. Transmitted live on all ... See full summary »

Directors: José Padilha, Felipe Lacerda | Stars: Sandro do Nascimento, Rodrigo Pimentel, Luiz Eduardo Soares, Anonymous

Votes: 7,615 | Gross: $0.22M

17. O.J.: Made in America (2016)

TV-MA | 467 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

A chronicle of the rise and fall of O.J. Simpson, whose high-profile murder trial exposed the extent of American racial tensions, revealing a fractured and divided nation.

Director: Ezra Edelman | Stars: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mike Albanese, Muhammad Ali, Marcus Allen

Votes: 15,576

18. Pina (2011)

PG | 103 min | Documentary, Music

83 Metascore

A tribute to the late German choreographer, Pina Bausch, as her dancers perform her most famous creations.

Director: Wim Wenders | Stars: Pina Bausch, Regina Advento, Malou Airaudo, Ruth Amarante

Votes: 13,729 | Gross: $3.52M

19. We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (2013)

R | 130 min | Documentary

76 Metascore

A documentary that details the creation of Julian Assange's controversial website, which facilitated the largest security breach in U.S. history.

Director: Alex Gibney | Stars: Julian Assange, Adrian Lamo, John 'FuzzFace' McMahon, Alex Gibney

Votes: 7,227 | Gross: $0.16M

20. The Iron Ministry (2014)

Not Rated | 82 min | Documentary

76 Metascore

Filmed over three years on what will soon be the world's largest railway network, 'The Iron Ministry' traces the vast interiors of a country on the move: flesh and metal, clangs and squeals, light and dark, language and gesture.

Director: J.P. Sniadecki

Votes: 217

21. Abortion: Stories Women Tell (2016)

TV-14 | 92 min | Documentary

78 Metascore

This documentary gives women a voice in the choices they've had to make regarding their pregnancies.

Director: Tracy Droz Tragos

Votes: 176

22. Red Army (2014)

PG | 84 min | Documentary, Biography, History

83 Metascore

The story of the Soviet Union's famed Red Army hockey team through the eyes of its players.

Director: Gabe Polsky | Stars: Viacheslav Fetisov, Scotty Bowman, Herb Brooks, Don Cherry

Votes: 6,255 | Gross: $0.69M

23. Rush Hour (2018)

80 min | Documentary

A documentary of three people in three different cities, Istanbul, Los Angeles, and Mexico City, sharing their experiences on commuting - a sacrifice of half their lives for the sake of supporting themselves and their families.

Director: Luciana Kaplan | Star: Nicole Monosky

Votes: 83

24. The Missing Picture (2013)

Not Rated | 92 min | Documentary

87 Metascore

Rithy Panh uses clay figures, archival footage, and his narration to recreate the atrocities Cambodia's Khmer Rouge committed between 1975 and 1979.

Director: Rithy Panh | Stars: Randal Douc, Jean-Baptiste Phou

Votes: 2,879 | Gross: $0.05M

25. Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (2008)

Unrated | 99 min | Documentary, Crime

78 Metascore

Examines the public scandal and private tragedy which led to legendary filmmaker Roman Polanski's sudden flight from the United States.

Director: Marina Zenovich | Stars: Andrew Braunsberg, Richard Brenneman, Douglas Dalton, Marilyn Beck

Votes: 4,651 | Gross: $0.06M

26. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003)

R | 93 min | Documentary, Crime

71 Metascore

Nick Broomfield's second documentary about serial killer Aileen Wuornos, focusing on her mental state on death row.

Directors: Nick Broomfield, Joan Churchill | Stars: Aileen Wuornos, Nick Broomfield, Terry Humphreys-Slay, Leitha Prather

Votes: 6,088 | Gross: $0.10M

27. The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003)

PG-13 | 107 min | Documentary, Biography, History

87 Metascore

The story of America as seen through the eyes of the former Secretary of Defense under President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon Baines Johnson, Robert McNamara.

Director: Errol Morris | Stars: Robert McNamara, John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro, Richard Nixon

Votes: 22,049 | Gross: $4.20M

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: 14,746 | Gross: $0.05M

29. Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop (2015)

TV-MA | 81 min | Documentary

Dubbed "The Cannibal Cop," Gilberto Valle was convicted in March 2013 of conspiring to kidnap and eat young women. Valle argued it was all a fantasy; the prosecution's narrative convinced ... See full summary »

Director: Erin Lee Carr | Stars: Gary Allen, Violet Blue, James A. Cohen, Joseph DeMarco

Votes: 1,100

30. 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: 11,315

31. The Weather Underground (2002)

Unrated | 92 min | Documentary, History, War

77 Metascore

The remarkable story of The Weather Underground, radical activists of the 1970s, and of radical politics at its best and most disastrous.

Directors: Sam Green, Bill Siegel | Stars: Lili Taylor, Pamela Z, Jim Lange, Evan White

Votes: 3,331 | Gross: $0.56M

32. RBG (2018)

PG | 98 min | Documentary, Biography

71 Metascore

The exceptional life and career of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has developed a breathtaking legal legacy while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon.

Directors: Julie Cohen, Betsy West | Stars: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ann Kittner, Harryette Helsel, Nina Totenberg

Votes: 9,109 | Gross: $14.02M

33. Zero Days (2016)

PG-13 | 116 min | Documentary

77 Metascore

A documentary focused on Stuxnet, a piece of self-replicating computer malware that the U.S. and Israel unleashed to destroy a key part of an Iranian nuclear facility, and which ultimately spread beyond its intended target.

Director: Alex Gibney | Stars: David Sanger, Emad Kiyaei, Eric Chien, Liam O'Murchu

Votes: 8,199 | Gross: $0.10M

34. Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016)

120 min | Documentary, History

85 Metascore

The history of Dawson City, the gold rush town that had a historical treasure of forgotten silent films buried in permafrost for decades until 1978.

Director: Bill Morrison | Stars: Kathy Jones-Gates, Michael Gates, Sam Kula, Bill O'Farrell

Votes: 1,304 | Gross: $0.13M

35. Made in Bangkok (2015)

75 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama

Morgana is a Mexican transgender opera singer with a dream: a sex reassignment surgery. We follow her odyssey all the way to Bangkok as she fights for the identity she has been struggling all her life to construct.

Director: Flavio Florencio | Stars: Morganna Love, Noa Herrera

Votes: 90

36. Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief (2015)

Not Rated | 119 min | Documentary

80 Metascore

A documentary looking at the inner-workings of the Church of Scientology.

Director: Alex Gibney | Stars: Paul Haggis, Jason Beghe, Spanky Taylor, David Miscavige

Votes: 35,040

37. The Battle of Chile: Part I (1975)

Not Rated | 191 min | Documentary

The chronicle of the political tension in Chile in 1973 and of the violent counter revolution against the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende.

Director: Patricio Guzmán | Stars: Salvador Allende, Abilio Fernández

Votes: 1,079

38. Chavela (2017)

Unrated | 93 min | Documentary, Biography, History

68 Metascore

The life of pioneering singer Chavela Vargas, from her birth in Costa Rica in 1919 to her death in Mexico in 2012.

Directors: Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi | Stars: Eugenia León, Jesusa Rodríguez, Tania Libertad, Marcela Rodríguez

Votes: 558 | Gross: $0.15M

39. Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2016)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary

73 Metascore

A small financial institution called Abacus becomes the only company criminally indicted in the wake of the United States' 2008 mortgage crisis.

Director: Steve James | Stars: Thomas Sung, Hwei Lin Sung, Cyrus Vance Jr., Matt Taibbi

Votes: 2,479 | Gross: $0.10M

40. Amanda Knox (2016)

TV-MA | 92 min | Documentary, Crime

78 Metascore

American exchange student Amanda Knox is convicted and eventually acquitted for the 2007 death of another student in Italy.

Directors: Rod Blackhurst, Brian McGinn | Stars: Amanda Knox, Meredith Kercher, Raffaele Sollecito, Giuliano Mignini

Votes: 18,189

41. Kiki (2016)

Unrated | 94 min | Documentary

73 Metascore

A group of LGBTQ youths of color unite to form a safe gathering space.

Director: Sara Jordenö | Stars: Loretta Coombs, Takima Coombs, Afrika Juicy Couture, Bootz Juicy Couture

Votes: 458

42. The Act of Killing (2012)

Not Rated | 117 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

90 Metascore

A documentary which challenges former Indonesian death-squad leaders to reenact their mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.

Directors: Joshua Oppenheimer, Anonymous, Christine Cynn | Stars: Anwar Congo, Herman Koto, Syamsul Arifin, Ibrahim Sinik

Votes: 32,172 | Gross: $0.49M

43. Searching for Sugar Man (2012)

PG-13 | 86 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

79 Metascore

Two South Africans set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock n roller, Rodriguez.

Director: Malik Bendjelloul | Stars: Rodriguez, Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman, Dennis Coffey, Mike Theodore

Votes: 59,912 | Gross: $3.97M

44. The Imposter (2012)

R | 99 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

77 Metascore

A documentary centered on a young man in Spain who claims to a grieving Texas family that he is their 16-year-old son who has been missing for 3 years.

Director: Bart Layton | Stars: Adam O'Brian, Nicholas Barclay, Carey Gibson, Bryan Gibson

Votes: 42,903 | Gross: $0.89M



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