50 Favorite Documentaries

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1.
Seven Up! (1964 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A group of seven-year-old British children from widely ranging backgrounds are interviewed about a range of subjects... (39 mins.)
Director: Paul Almond
“ The complete Up Series. ” - Lord_X
 
2.
Lessons of Darkness (1992 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
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. (54 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
 
3.
Night and Fog (1956 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
The history of Nazi Germany's death camps of the Final Solution and the hellish world of dehumanization and death contained inside. (32 mins.)
Director: Alain Resnais
 
4.
Man with a Movie Camera (1929 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A man travels around a city with a camera slung over his shoulder, documenting urban life with dazzling invention. (68 mins.)
Director: Dziga Vertov
 
5.
The White Diamond (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
About the daring adventure of exploring rainforest canopy with a novel flying device-the Jungle Airship... (88 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
 
6.
Koyaanisqatsi (1982 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A collection of expertly photographed phenomena with no conventional plot. The footage focuses on nature, humanity and the relationship between them. (86 mins.)
Director: Godfrey Reggio
 
7.
For All Mankind (1989 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
This movie documents the Apollo missions perhaps the most definitively of any movie under two hours... (80 mins.)
Director: Al Reinert
 
8.
Sans Soleil (1983 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
"He wrote me...." A woman narrates the thoughts of a world traveler, meditations on time and memory... (100 mins.)
Director: Chris. Marker
 
9.
Hearts and Minds (1974 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
An examination of the conflicting attitudes of the opponents of the Vietnam War. (112 mins.)
Director: Peter Davis
 
10.
Waltz with Bashir (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
An Israeli film director interviews fellow veterans of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon to reconstruct his own memories of his term of service in that conflict. (90 mins.)
Director: Ari Folman
 
11.
Human Planet (2011 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.1/10 X  
Like all life forms, humanity partially adapts to types of natural environment, yet also tends to change them... (50 mins.)
Stars: John Hurt
 
12.
Grey Gardens (1975 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
An old mother and her middle-aged daughter, the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, live their eccentric lives in a filthy, decaying mansion in East Hampton. (94 mins.)
 
13.
Planet Earth (2006 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.5/10 X  
Emmy Award-winning, 11 episodes, 5 years in the making, the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC, and the first to be filmed in high definition. (48 mins.)
 
14.
A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
Martin Scorsese describes his initial and growing obsession with films from the 1940s and 50s as the art form developed and grew with clips from classics and cult classics. (225 mins.)
 
15.
Cosmos (1980 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.3/10 X  
Astronomer Carl Sagan leads us on an engaging guided tour of the various elements and cosmological theories of the universe. (60 mins.)
 
16.
The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner (1974 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A study of the psychology of a champion ski-jumper, whose full-time occupation is carpentry. (45 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
 
17.
Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A horrific triple child murder leads to an indictment and trial of three nonconformist boys based on questionable evidence. (150 mins.)
 
18.
Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus (2003 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Searching for The Wrong-Eyed Jesus is a captivating and compelling road trip through the creative spirit of the the Southern U.S... (82 mins.)
Director: Andrew Douglas
 
19.
Nostalgia for the Light (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
In Chile's Atacama Desert, astronomers peer deep into the cosmos in search for answers concerning the origins of life... (90 mins.)
 
20.
The Act of Killing (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
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. (115 mins.)
 
21.
The Queen of Versailles (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A documentary that follows a billionaire couple as they begin construction on a mansion inspired by Versailles. During the next two years, their empire, fueled by the real estate bubble and cheap money, falters due to the economic crisis. (100 mins.)
 
22.
The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A comprehensive history of the medium and art of motion pictures. (60 mins.)
 
23.
Land of Silence and Darkness (1971 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Through examining Fini Straubinger, an old woman who has been deaf and blind since adolescence, and her work on behalf of other deaf and blind people... (85 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
 
24.
Crumb (1994 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
An intimate portrait of the controversial cartoonist and his traumatized family. (119 mins.)
Director: Terry Zwigoff
 
25.
The Salt of the Earth (2014 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
The life and work of photographer Sebastião Salgado, who has spent forty years documenting deprived societies in hidden corners of the world. (110 mins.)
 
26.
Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Documentary that chronicles how Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now was plagued by extraordinary script, shooting, budget, and casting problems--nearly destroying the life and career of the celebrated director. (96 mins.)
 
27.
First Love (1974 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
After the doctor's refusal to perform abortion on a 17-year old girl, she and her boyfriend have to cope with the new situation... (52 mins.)
 
28.
Belarmino (1964 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Interview with a has-been boxing champion «who could have been great», probing, and soul revealing. (80 mins.)
Director: Fernando Lopes
 
29.
My Voyage to Italy (2001 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
World-renowned director Martin Scorsese narrates this journey through his favorites in Italian cinema. (246 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
 
30.
War Photographer (2001 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Documentary about war photographer James Nachtwey, considered by many the greatest war photographer ever. (96 mins.)
Director: Christian Frei
 
31.
The Thin Blue Line (1988 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas. (103 mins.)
Director: Errol Morris
 
32.
F for Fake (1973 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A documentary about fraud and fakery. (89 mins.)
Director: Orson Welles
 
33.
The Cruise (1998 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Affectionate portrait of Tim "Speed" Levitch, a tour guide for Manhattan's Gray Line double-decker buses... (76 mins.)
Director: Bennett Miller
 
34.
Encounters at the End of the World (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Film-maker Werner Herzog travels to the McMurdo Station in Antarctica, looking to capture the continent's beauty and investigate the characters living there. (99 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
 
35.
Pina (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A tribute to the late German choreographer, Pina Bausch, as her dancers perform her most famous creations. (103 mins.)
Director: Wim Wenders
 
36.
Burden of Dreams (1982 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A documentary on the chaotic production of Werner Herzog's epic Fitzcarraldo, showing how the film... (95 mins.)
Director: Les Blank
 
37.
José and Pilar (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
"José and Pilar," a documentary by Miguel Gonçalves Mendes, is a deeply moving story about love, loss and literature... (117 mins.)
 
38.
Marjoe (1972 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Part documentary, part expose, this film follows one-time child evangelist Marjoe Gortner on the "church tent" Revivalist circuit... (88 mins.)
 
39.
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
The story of America as seen through the eyes of the former Secretary of Defense under President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara. (107 mins.)
Director: Errol Morris
 
40.
High School (1968 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman takes us inside Northeast High School as a fly on the wall to observe the teachers and how they interact with the students. (75 mins.)
 
41.
Salesman (1968 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Four relentless door-to-door salesmen deal with constant rejection, homesickness and inevitable burnout as they go across the country selling very expensive bibles to low-income Catholic families. (85 mins.)
 
42.
Baraka (1992 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
A collection of expertly photographed scenes of human life and religion. (96 mins.)
Director: Ron Fricke
 
43.
Anvil: The Story of Anvil (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Since 1978, Anvil has become one of heavy metal's most influential yet commercially unsuccessful acts. In 2006, after a fledging European tour Anvil sets out to record their thirteenth album and continue to follow their dreams. (80 mins.)
Director: Sacha Gervasi
 
44.
George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Filmmaker Martin Scorsese examines the life of musician George Harrison, weaving together interviews, concert footage, home movies and photographs. (208 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
 
45.
Titicut Follies (1967 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman takes us inside the Massachusetts Correctional Institution Bridgewater where people stay trapped in their madness. (84 mins.)
 
46.
Wheel of Time (2003 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Wheel of Time is Werner Herzog's photographed look at the largest Buddhist ritual in Bodh Gaya, India. (81 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
 
47.
Stories We Tell (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A film that excavates layers of myth and memory to find the elusive truth at the core of a family of storytellers. (108 mins.)
Director: Sarah Polley
 
48.
Roger & Me (1989 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Director Michael Moore pursues GM CEO Roger Smith to confront him about the harm he did to Flint, Michigan with his massive downsizing. (91 mins.)
Director: Michael Moore
 
49.
Deliver Us from Evil (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Documentary about Father Oliver O'Grady, a Catholic priest who was relocated to various parishes around the United States during the 1970s in an attempt by the Catholic Church to cover up his rape of dozens of children. (101 mins.)
Director: Amy Berg
 
50.
Into the Abyss (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Conversations with death row inmate Michael Perry and those affected by his crime serve as an examination of why people - and the state - kill. (107 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog