Outstanding Documentaries

by zelig-vienna | created - 11 Aug 2011 | updated - 06 Jan 2012 | Public

Some extraordinary documentaries, any suggestions are welcome. (no politics here. i do like michael moore, but not in this list.)

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1. Capturing the Friedmans (2003)

Not Rated | 107 min | Documentary, Biography

7.8
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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: 21,067 | Gross: $3.12M

2. The Most Hated Family in America (2007 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 60 min | Documentary

8.0
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Louis meets the Phelps family, who protest against an America that tolerates homosexuality

Director: Geoffrey O'Connor | Stars: Louis Theroux, Lauren Drain, Steve Drain, Fred Phelps

Votes: 3,377

3. Defamation (2009)

Not Rated | 91 min | Documentary

7.4
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58 Metascore

Intent on shaking up the ultimate 'sacred cow' for Jews, Israeli director Yoav Shamir embarks on a provocative - and at times irreverent - quest to answer the question, "What is anti-Semitism today?"

Director: Yoav Shamir | Stars: Yoav Shamir, Abraham Foxman, Bob Wolfson, Notav

Votes: 1,325 | Gross: $0.01M

4. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996)

Not Rated | 150 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama

8.3
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A horrific triple child murder leads to an indictment and trial of three nonconformist boys based on questionable evidence.

Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky | Stars: Tony Brooks, Diana Davis, Terry Wood, Dick Clay

Votes: 12,368

5. Religulous (2008)

R | 101 min | Documentary, Comedy, War

7.7
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56 Metascore

Bill Maher's take on the current state of world religion.

Director: Larry Charles | Stars: Bill Maher, Tal Bachman, Jonathan Boulden, Steve Burg

Votes: 54,809 | Gross: $13.00M

6. Man on Wire (2008)

PG-13 | 94 min | Documentary, Biography

7.8
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89 Metascore

A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century".

Director: James Marsh | Stars: Philippe Petit, Jean François Heckel, Jean-Louis Blondeau, Annie Allix

Votes: 46,342 | Gross: $2.96M

7. Freakonomics (2010)

PG-13 | 85 min | Documentary

6.4
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58 Metascore

A collection of documentaries that explores the hidden side of human nature through the use of the science of economics.

Directors: Heidi Ewing, Alex Gibney, Seth Gordon, Rachel Grady, Eugene Jarecki, Morgan Spurlock | Stars: James Ransone, Tempestt Bledsoe, Morgan Spurlock, Melvin Van Peebles

Votes: 6,227 | Gross: $0.10M

8. Food, Inc. (2008)

PG | 94 min | Documentary

7.8
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80 Metascore

An unflattering look inside America's corporate controlled food industry.

Director: Robert Kenner | Stars: Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, Richard Lobb, Vince Edwards

Votes: 46,164 | Gross: $4.42M

9. Jesus Camp (2006)

PG-13 | 87 min | Documentary

7.5
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62 Metascore

A documentary on kids who attend a summer camp hoping to become the next Billy Graham.

Directors: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady | Stars: Mike Papantonio, Lou Engle, Becky Fischer, Ted Haggard

Votes: 24,457 | Gross: $0.90M

10. Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism (2004)

Unrated | 78 min | Documentary

7.6
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58 Metascore

Documentary on reported Conservative bias of the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News Channel (FNC), which promotes itself as "Fair and Balanced". Material includes interviews with former FNC employees and the inter-office memos they provided.

Director: Robert Greenwald | Stars: Douglas Cheek, Walter Cronkite, Roger Ailes, Eric Alterman

Votes: 5,947 | Gross: $0.24M

11. Cropsey (2009)

Not Rated | 84 min | Documentary, Crime, Horror

6.4
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73 Metascore

Realizing the urban legend of their youth has actually come true; two filmmakers delve into the mystery surrounding five missing children and the real-life boogeyman linked to their disappearances.

Directors: Barbara Brancaccio, Joshua Zeman | Stars: Joshua Zeman, Barbara Brancaccio, Bill Ellis, Dorothy D'Eletto

Votes: 6,514 | Gross: $0.05M

12. Billy the Kid (2007)

PG-13 | 84 min | Documentary

7.4
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75 Metascore

"I'm not black, I'm not white, not foreign, just different in the mind. Different brains, that's all," explains 15-year-old Billy in Jennifer Venditti's provocative coming of age film. ... See full summary »

Director: Jennifer Venditti | Stars: Penny Baker, Billy P., Heather Pelletier

Votes: 492

13. Murder on a Sunday Morning (2001)

Not Rated | 111 min | Documentary, Crime

8.0
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Oscar-winning documentary that documents a murder trial in which a 15-year-old African-American is wrongfully accused of a 2000 murder in Jacksonville, Florida.

Director: Jean-Xavier de Lestrade | Stars: Ann Finnell, Patrick McGuinness, James Williams, Michael Glover

Votes: 3,755

14. The Yes Men Fix the World (2009)

87 min | Documentary, Comedy

7.6
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71 Metascore

Troublemaking duo Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, posing as their industrious alter-egos, expose the people profiting from Hurricane Katrina, the faces behind the environmental disaster in Bhopal, and other shocking events.

Directors: Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno, Kurt Engfehr | Stars: Reggie Watts, Mike Bonanno, Andy Bichlbaum, Richard Ebeling

Votes: 4,757 | Gross: $0.19M

15. The Staircase (2004– )

TV-14 | 384 min | Documentary, Crime

8.2
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Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, presents a gripping courtroom thriller, offering a rare and revealing inside look at a high-profile murder trial. In ... See full summary »

Stars: Michael Peterson, David Rudolf, Ron Guerette, Tom Maher

Votes: 3,866

16. Catfish (2010)

PG-13 | 87 min | Documentary

7.1
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65 Metascore

Young filmmakers document their colleague's budding online friendship with a young woman and her family which leads to an unexpected series of discoveries.

Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman | Stars: Yaniv Schulman, Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost, Angela Wesselman-Pierce

Votes: 37,442 | Gross: $3.23M

17. Spellbound (2002)

G | 97 min | Documentary, Comedy, Thriller

7.6
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80 Metascore

Spellbound follows eight teenagers on their quest to win the 1999 National Spelling Bee.

Director: Jeffrey Blitz | Stars: Angela Arenivar, Ubaldo Arenivar, Jorge Arenivar, Scott McGarraugh

Votes: 11,375 | Gross: $5.73M

18. Outrage (I) (2009)

R | 90 min | Documentary

7.6
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64 Metascore

An indictment of closeted politicians who lobby for anti-gay legislation in the U.S.

Director: Kirby Dick | Stars: Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, Wayne Barrett, Elizabeth Birch

Votes: 1,517 | Gross: $0.04M

19. Brother's Keeper (1992)

R | 104 min | Documentary, Crime, Mystery

7.6
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92 Metascore

This documentary by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky details the murder trial of Delbert Ward. Delbert's of a family of 4 brothers (the other 3 being Roscoe, Lyman and William - Bill, for ... See full summary »

Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky | Stars: Delbert Ward, Roscoe Ward, Lyman Ward, Walt Geisler

Votes: 3,306 | Gross: $1.31M

20. When We Were Kings (1996)

PG | 88 min | Documentary, Sport

8.0
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83 Metascore

A documentary of the 1974 heavyweight championship bout in Zaire, "The Rumble in the Jungle," between champion George Foreman and underdog challenger Muhammad Ali.

Director: Leon Gast | Stars: Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Don King, James Brown

Votes: 13,290 | Gross: $2.67M

21. Tarnation (2003)

Unrated | 88 min | Documentary, Biography

7.2
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87 Metascore

Filmmaker Jonathan Caouette's documentary on growing up with his schizophrenic mother -- a mixture of snapshots, Super-8, answering machine messages, video diaries, early short films, and more -- culled from 19 years of his life.

Director: Jonathan Caouette | Stars: Jonathan Caouette, Renee Leblanc, Adolph Davis, Rosemary Davis

Votes: 5,932 | Gross: $0.59M