Documentaries

by dsensNWN00 | created - 09 Jul 2013 | updated - 1 week ago | Public

"If this species is to survive indefinitely, we need to become a multi-planet species" - Charles F. Bolden, NASA

"If we die we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us, it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life." - Gus Grissom

"When I am getting ready to cross a street, I look both ways before crossing." - Buzz Aldrin

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves." - Edward R. Murrow

"I believe in humanity. We are an incredible species. We're still just a child creature, we're still being nasty to each other. And all children go through those phases. We're growing up, we're moving into adolescence now. When we grow up – man, we're going to be something!" - Gene Roddenberry

Lifetime achievement goes to Michael Moore.

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1. Cosmos (1980)

TV-PG | 60 min | Documentary

Astronomer Carl Sagan leads us on an engaging guided tour of the various elements and cosmological theories of the universe.

Stars: Carl Sagan, Jaromír Hanzlík, Jonathan Fahn, Alan Belod

Votes: 32,929

2. Cosmos (2014–2020)

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: 100,747

3. The World at War (1973–1976)

TV-PG | 52 min | Documentary, History, War

A groundbreaking 26-part documentary series narrated by the actor Laurence Olivier about the deadliest conflict in history, World War II.

Stars: Laurence Olivier, Anthony Eden, Averell Harriman, Albert Speer

Votes: 19,579

4. Countdown to Zero (2010)

PG | 91 min | Documentary

70 Metascore

A documentary about how the likelihood of nuclear weapons (or fissile materials) usage has increased due to the rise of terrorism and lack of safeguards and verification.

Director: Lucy Walker | Stars: Graham Allison, James Baker III, Bruce Blair, Tony Blair

Votes: 2,083 | Gross: $0.27M

5. 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: 31,987 | Gross: $0.49M

6. In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)

PG | 100 min | Documentary, History

84 Metascore

The crew members of NASA's Apollo missions tell their story in their own words.

Director: David Sington | Stars: Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Stephen Armstrong, Viola Armstrong

Votes: 6,336 | Gross: $1.13M

  • filmed on location.

7. For All Mankind (1989)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary, History

An in-depth look at various NASA moon landing missions, starting with Apollo 8.

Director: Al Reinert | Stars: Jim Lovell, Ken Mattingly, Russell Schweickart, Eugene Cernan

Votes: 4,724 | Gross: $0.77M

8. Failure Is Not an Option (2003 TV Movie)

TV-PG | 90 min | Documentary, History

A history of the U.S. manned space program from Mercury to Apollo 17, as seen by the men of Mission Control.

Directors: Rushmore DeNooyer, Kirk Wolfinger | Stars: Gene Kranz, James Doolittle, Christopher Kraft, Robert Seamans

Votes: 112

9. The Wonder of It All (2007)

82 min | Documentary

"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." These words spoken by... See full summary »

Director: Jeffrey Roth | Stars: Eugene Cernan, Yuri Gagarin, John F. Kennedy, Alan Bean

Votes: 190 | Gross: $0.78M

10. Moonwalk One (1971)

G | 96 min | Documentary

This documentary from 1970 explores all aspects of the Apollo 11 Moon mission.

Director: Theo Kamecke | Stars: Laurence Luckinbill, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins

Votes: 224

12. Apollo 11 (2019)

G | 93 min | Documentary, History

88 Metascore

A look at the Apollo 11 mission to land on the moon led by commander Neil Armstrong and pilots Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

Director: Todd Douglas Miller | Stars: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin, Deke Slayton

Votes: 12,684 | Gross: $9.04M

* haven't seen yet.

13. First Man (2018)

PG-13 | 141 min | Biography, Drama, History

84 Metascore

A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

Director: Damien Chazelle | Stars: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler

Votes: 138,928 | Gross: $44.94M

* haven't seen yet.

14. Mars (2016–2018)

TV-PG | 60 min | Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi

The first manned mission from Earth to Mars in 2033 attempts to colonize the red planet.

Stars: Jihae, Alberto Ammann, Clémentine Poidatz, Sammi Rotibi

Votes: 11,236

15. 102 Minutes That Changed America (2008 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 102 min | Documentary, History

The morning of September 11, 2001 is shown through multiple video cameras in New York City, from the moment the first WTC tower is hit until after both towers collapse.

Directors: Nicole Rittenmeyer, Seth Skundrick | Stars: George W. Bush, Joe Napolitano, Kelly Edwards

Votes: 2,147

  • the ultimate in found footage horror, documentary, mockumentary, desaster movie, blockbuster and action movie in general (sorry to say, but that's a fact).

16. The House I Live In (2012)

Not Rated | 108 min | Documentary

77 Metascore

From the dealer to the narcotics officer, the inmate to the federal judge, a penetrating look inside America's criminal justice system, revealing the profound human rights implications of U.S. drug policy.

Director: Eugene Jarecki | Stars: Eugene Jarecki, David Simon, Shanequa Benitez, William Julius Wilson

Votes: 5,049 | Gross: $0.21M

17. Lessons of Darkness (1992)

Not Rated | 54 min | Documentary, War

This film shows the disaster of the Kuwaitian oil fields in flames, with few interviews and no explanatory narration. Hell itself is presented in such beautiful sights and music that one has to be fascinated by it.

Director: Werner Herzog | Star: Werner Herzog

Votes: 4,840

  • there's no way this is even possible.

18. My Best Fiend (1999)

Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary, Biography

70 Metascore

In the 1950s, an adolescent Werner Herzog was transfixed by a film performance of the young Klaus Kinski. Years later, they would share an apartment where, in an unabated, forty-eight-hour ... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale, Justo González

Votes: 9,707 | Gross: $0.10M

* As bad evil unfair smear campaigns go, it's delicious. File it under unstoppable force meets unmovable object, or abusive sadomasochistic marriage. And it might just be the old germany vs. the new.

19. Restrepo (2010)

R | 93 min | Documentary, War

85 Metascore

A year with one platoon in the deadliest valley in Afghanistan.

Directors: Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger | Stars: The Men of Battle Company 2nd of the 503rd Infantry Regiment 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Juan 'Doc Restrepo, Dan Kearney, LaMonta Caldwell

Votes: 21,145 | Gross: $1.33M

20. The Battle for Marjah (2010)

88 min | Documentary

On February 13, 2010, American-led coalition forces launched the biggest military operation since the beginning of the Afghanistan War. Their target was the town of Marjah, a Taliban ... See full summary »

Director: Anthony Wonke

Votes: 626

21. Taking Fire (2016– )

Documentary, War

Soldiers recount their experiences in one of the worst places of Afghanistan through helmet cameras and testimony years after their tour.

Stars: Kyle Boucher, Kevin Conroy, J.J. McCool, Ken Shriver

Votes: 226

22. Touching the Void (2003)

R | 106 min | Documentary, Adventure, Drama

82 Metascore

The true story of two climbers and their perilous journey up the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985.

Director: Kevin Macdonald | Stars: Simon Yates, Joe Simpson, Brendan Mackey, Nicholas Aaron

Votes: 31,914 | Gross: $4.59M

  • see also: The Beckoning Silence (2007).


Think about mountain climbing what you will (or 'Man on Wire' for that matter), but it makes for nice photography.

23. Free Solo (2018)

PG-13 | 100 min | Documentary, Adventure, Sport

83 Metascore

Alex Honnold attempts to become the first person to ever free solo climb El Capitan.

Directors: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi | Stars: Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, Jimmy Chin, Cheyne Lempe

Votes: 40,320 | Gross: $17.54M

24. The Square (2013)

Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary, News

84 Metascore

A group of Egyptian revolutionaries battle leaders and regimes, risking their lives to build a new society of conscience.

Director: Jehane Noujaim | Stars: Ahmed Hassan, Khalid Abdalla, Magdy Ashour, Ramy Essam

Votes: 8,156 | Gross: $0.12M

25. The Invisible War (2012)

Not Rated | 93 min | Documentary, Crime

75 Metascore

An investigative documentary about the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the US military.

Director: Kirby Dick | Stars: Amy Ziering, Kirby Dick, Kori Cioca, Jessica Hinves

Votes: 6,398 | Gross: $0.07M

26. America Undercover (1983– )
Episode: The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer (1992)

Not Rated | 47 min | Documentary

Richard Kuklinski was a devoted husband, loving father--and ruthless killer of over 100 people. You'll meet him in this powerful documentary that features one of the most vivid and ... See full summary »

Directors: Arthur Ginsberg, Tom Spain | Stars: Richard Kuklinski, Michael Baden, Robert J. Carroll, Lee Grant

Votes: 827

27. The Atomic Cafe (1982)

Not Rated | 86 min | Documentary, History

Disturbing collection of 1940s and 1950s United States government-issued propaganda films designed to reassure Americans that the atomic bomb was not a threat to their safety.

Directors: Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty, Pierce Rafferty | Stars: Paul Tibbets, Harry S. Truman, W.H.P. Blandy, Brien McMahon

Votes: 3,735 | Gross: $0.02M

28. 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: 21,996 | Gross: $4.20M

29. Collapse (II) (2009)

Unrated | 82 min | Documentary

71 Metascore

A documentary on Michael Ruppert, a police officer turned independent reporter who predicted the current financial crisis in his self-published newsletter, From the Wilderness.

Director: Chris Smith | Star: Michael Ruppert

Votes: 6,737 | Gross: $0.05M

30. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

PG | 96 min | Documentary, News

75 Metascore

Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim follows Al Gore on the lecture circuit, as the former presidential candidate campaigns to raise public awareness of the dangers of global warming and calls for immediate action to curb its destructive effects on the environment.

Director: Davis Guggenheim | Stars: Al Gore, Billy West, George Bush, George W. Bush

Votes: 78,198 | Gross: $23.81M

31. Obedience (1962)

45 min | Documentary

Documents the famous Milgram experiment, which measured the willingness of test subjects to obey authority in ways contrary to their own judgment and conscience.

Director: Stanley Milgram | Stars: John T. Williams, James J. McDonough

Votes: 56

  • shocking. Careful, you can never un-see this.

32. The Specialist (1999)

128 min | Documentary

75 Metascore

The incredible trial of an appallingly ordinary man. Drawn entirely on the 350 hours of rare footage recorded during the trial of Adolf Eichmann, in 1961, in Jerusalem, this film about ... See full summary »

Director: Eyal Sivan | Stars: Adolf Eichmann, Gideon Hausner, Gabriel Bach, Avraham Lindwasser

Votes: 318 | Gross: $0.02M

33. Deepsea Challenge 3D (2014)

PG | 91 min | Documentary

58 Metascore

A 3D documentary chronicling filmmaker James Cameron's diving expeditions in his Deepsea Challenger submersible.

Directors: John Bruno, Ray Quint, Andrew Wight | Stars: James Cameron, Suzy Amis, Frank Lotito, Paul Henri

Votes: 1,486 | Gross: $0.15M

  • excellent use of 3d, excellent as a documentary. Excellent as engineering, I guess.

34. Black Sky: The Race for Space (2004 TV Movie)

90 min | Documentary

The remarkable story of Burt Rutan and SpaceShipOne. Only three of the most powerful governments in the world have achieved what they set out to do from a garage in the Mojave desert: to put a man in space.

Directors: Scott B, Sandy Guthrie, Jill Shinefield, Gail Willumsen | Stars: Paul G. Allen, Tom Bales, Jim Benson, Brian Binnie

Votes: 45

  • Congratulations are in order.

35. Pax Americana and the Weaponization of Space (2009)

Not Rated | 43 min | Documentary

When a war starts in space, can anyone really win?

Director: Denis Delestrac | Stars: George W. Bush, Helen Caldicott, Kevin Chilton, Noam Chomsky

Votes: 72

  • 85 minutes runtime.

36. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)

R | 84 min | Comedy

89 Metascore

Kazakh TV talking head Borat is dispatched to the United States to report on the greatest country in the world. With a documentary crew in tow, Borat becomes more interested in locating and marrying Pamela Anderson.

Director: Larry Charles | Stars: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ken Davitian, Luenell, Chester

Votes: 337,314 | Gross: $128.51M

  • life-threatening. Satire is only when it hurts.

37. The Ambassador (2011)

Not Rated | 93 min | Documentary

67 Metascore

Danish journalist Mads Brügger goes undercover as a Liberian Ambassador to embark on a dangerous yet hysterical journey to uncover the blood diamond trade in Africa.

Director: Mads Brügger | Stars: Mads Brügger, Heather Schmid

Votes: 3,699 | Gross: $0.03M

  • I would have stayed in diamond trade, though' (if it wasn't so d-mned dangerous...)

38. Documentary Now! (2015– )

23 min | Comedy

Documentary Now parodies the current obsession with documentaries. Season one features six different stories and stylistic approaches paying tribute to the doc format.

Stars: Helen Mirren, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Deb Hiett

Votes: 4,544



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