The Must See Documentaries

by Chopchop38 | created - 19 Mar 2012 | updated - 2 months ago | Public
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1. Bowling for Columbine (2002)

R | 120 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
72 Metascore

Filmmaker Michael Moore explores the roots of America's predilection for gun violence.

Director: Michael Moore | Stars: Michael Moore, Charlton Heston, Marilyn Manson, Salvador Allende

Votes: 129,396 | Gross: $21.24M

2. Capturing the Friedmans (2003)

Not Rated | 107 min | Documentary, Biography

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
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: 20,878 | Gross: $3.12M

3. The Thin Blue Line (1988)

Not Rated | 101 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
79 Metascore

A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas.

Director: Errol Morris | Stars: Randall Adams, David Harris, Gus Rose, Jackie Johnson

Votes: 17,906 | Gross: $1.21M

4. For All Mankind (1989)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary, History

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

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

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

Votes: 3,842 | Gross: $0.77M

5. Lake of Fire (2006)

Unrated | 152 min | Documentary

8.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
83 Metascore

A graphic documentary on both sides of the abortion debate.

Director: Tony Kaye | Stars: Noam Chomsky, Bill Baird, Flip Benham, Dallas Blanchard

Votes: 2,270 | Gross: $0.02M

6. The Yes Men Fix the World (2009)

87 min | Documentary, Comedy

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
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: 4,744 | Gross: $0.19M

7. Collapse (II) (2009)

Unrated | 82 min | Documentary

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
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: 6,190 | Gross: $0.05M

8. Super Size Me (2004)

PG | 100 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
73 Metascore

While examining the influence of the fast food industry, Morgan Spurlock personally explores the consequences on his health of a diet of solely McDonald's food for one month.

Director: Morgan Spurlock | Stars: Morgan Spurlock, Daryl Isaacs, Chemeeka Walker, Dania Abu-Rmaileh

Votes: 91,241 | Gross: $11.53M

9. GasLand (2010)

Not Rated | 107 min | Documentary

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An exploration of the fracking petroleum extraction industry and the serious environmental consequences involved.

Director: Josh Fox | Stars: Josh Fox, Dick Cheney, Pete Seeger, Richard Nixon

Votes: 9,736 | Gross: $0.03M

10. The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off (2004 TV Movie)

50 min | Documentary

8.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  

A year ago, 36-year-old Jonny Kennedy died. He had a terrible genetic condition called Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) - which meant that his skin literally fell off at the slightest ... See full summary »

Director: Patrick Collerton | Stars: Edna Kennedy, Jonny Kennedy, Nell McAndrew

Votes: 346

11. Grizzly Man (2005)

R | 103 min | Documentary, Biography

7.8
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87 Metascore

A devastating and heartrending take on grizzly bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, who were killed in October of 2003 while living among grizzlies in Alaska.

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Timothy Treadwell, Amie Huguenard, Werner Herzog, Carol Dexter

Votes: 45,256 | Gross: $3.17M

12. Religulous (2008)

R | 101 min | Documentary, Comedy, War

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
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: 54,589 | Gross: $13.00M

13. In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)

PG | 100 min | Documentary, History

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
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: 5,832 | Gross: $1.13M

14. American Movie (1999)

R | 107 min | Documentary, Comedy

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
84 Metascore

Documentary about an aspiring filmmaker's attempts to finance his dream project by finally completing the low-budget horror film he abandoned years before.

Director: Chris Smith | Stars: Mark Borchardt, Mike Schank, Tom Schimmels, Monica Borchardt

Votes: 14,633 | Gross: $1.16M

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

PG-13 | 79 min | Documentary, Biography, Sport

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
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: 32,112 | Gross: $0.68M

16. Inside Job (2010)

PG-13 | 105 min | Documentary, Crime

8.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
88 Metascore

Takes a closer look at what brought about the 2008 financial meltdown.

Director: Charles Ferguson | Stars: Matt Damon, Gylfi Zoega, Andri Snær Magnason, Sigridur Benediktsdottir

Votes: 61,563 | Gross: $4.31M

17. Senna (2010)

PG-13 | 106 min | Documentary, Biography, Sport

8.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
79 Metascore

A documentary on Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 world championship three times before his death at age 34.

Director: Asif Kapadia | Stars: Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Frank Williams, Ron Dennis

Votes: 50,087 | Gross: $1.61M

18. TT3D: Closer to the Edge (2011)

Not Rated | 104 min | Documentary, Sport

8.0
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By vividly recounting the TT's legendary rivalries and the Isle of Man's unique road racing history, this 3D feature documentary will discover why modern TT riders still risk their lives to... See full summary »

Director: Richard De Aragues | Stars: Guy Martin, Ian Hutchinson, John McGuinness, Michael Dunlop

Votes: 5,605

19. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

R | 87 min | Documentary, Comedy, Crime

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
85 Metascore

The story of how an eccentric French shop-keeper and amateur film-maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner. The film contains... See full summary »

Director: Banksy | Stars: Banksy, Mr. Brainwash, Space Invader, Debora Guetta

Votes: 55,412 | Gross: $3.29M

20. The Cove (2009)

PG-13 | 92 min | Documentary, Crime

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
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: 43,047 | Gross: $0.86M

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

Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama

8.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
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: 25,797

22. When We Were Kings (1996)

PG | 88 min | Documentary, Sport

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
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: 13,198 | Gross: $2.67M

23. Taxi to the Dark Side (2007)

R | 106 min | Documentary, Crime, War

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
82 Metascore

Alex Gibney exposes the haunting details of the USA's torture and interrogation practices during the War in Afghanistan.

Director: Alex Gibney | Stars: Alex Gibney, Brian Keith Allen, Moazzam Begg, Christopher Beiring

Votes: 12,422 | Gross: $0.27M

24. Burma VJ: Reporter i et lukket land (2008)

Unrated | 84 min | Documentary, History, News

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
82 Metascore

Using smuggled footage, this documentary tells the story of the 2007 protests in Burma by thousands of monks.

Director: Anders Østergaard | Stars: George W. Bush, Ko Muang, Aung San Suu Kyi

Votes: 2,190 | Gross: $0.05M

25. Spellbound (2002)

G | 97 min | Documentary, Comedy, Thriller

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
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: 11,339 | Gross: $5.73M

26. When Louis Met... The Hamiltons (2001 TV Special)

78 min | Documentary

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Add a Plot

Director: Will Yapp | Stars: Louis Theroux, Neil Hamilton, Christine Hamilton, Gyles Brandreth

Votes: 344

27. Young@Heart (2007)

PG | 107 min | Documentary, Music

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
75 Metascore

A documentary on a chorus of senior citizens from Massachusetts who cover songs by Jimi Hendrix, Coldplay, Sonic Youth, and other unexpected musicians.

Directors: Stephen Walker, Sally George | Stars: Joe Benoit, Helen Boston, Louise Canady, Elaine Fligman

Votes: 3,675 | Gross: $3.96M

28. 102 Minutes That Changed America (2008 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 102 min | Documentary, History

8.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

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: 1,865

29. The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear (2004)

157 min | Documentary, History

8.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
78 Metascore

A series of three documentaries about the use of fear for political gain.

Stars: Gilles Kepel, Melvin Goodman, Stephen Holmes, William Kristol

Votes: 3,476

30. The Queen of Versailles (2012)

PG | 100 min | Documentary

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
80 Metascore

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.

Director: Lauren Greenfield | Stars: Jaqueline Siegel, David Siegel, Alyse Barker, Lorraine Barrett

Votes: 11,406 | Gross: $2.40M

31. Raw Deal: A Question of Consent (2001)

90 min | Documentary, Crime

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A documentary about the circumstances during a party at a University of Florida fraternity that led up to what may or may not have been a rape. Interspersed with actual footage shot by the ... See full summary »

Director: Billy Corben | Stars: Craig C. DeThomasis, Alice Hendon, Disa Holly, Lisa King

Votes: 273

32. Catfish (2010)

PG-13 | 87 min | Documentary

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
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: 37,238 | Gross: $3.23M

33. West of Memphis (2012)

R | 147 min | Documentary, Crime

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
80 Metascore

An examination of a failure of justice in the case against the West Memphis Three.

Director: Amy Berg | Stars: Jason Baldwin, Damien Wayne Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Michael Baden

Votes: 8,472 | Gross: $0.31M

34. Searching for Sugar Man (2012)

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

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
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: 54,146 | Gross: $3.97M

35. Undefeated (2011)

PG-13 | 113 min | Documentary, Sport

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
71 Metascore

Chronicles three underprivileged students from inner-city Memphis and their volunteer coach who tries to help them beat the odds on and off the field.

Directors: Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin | Stars: Bill Courtney, O.C. Brown, Montrail 'Money' Brown, Chavis Daniels

Votes: 6,183 | Gross: $0.56M

36. Catastrophe (2008– )

Documentary

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Catastrophe or opportunity depends on your perspective as a victim or survivor. But from the perspective of species catastrophes are an important part of the engine of evolution as this highly scientific series explains.

Stars: Tony Robinson, John Power, Peter Schultz, Hazel Barton

Votes: 83

37. McCullin (2012)

91 min | Documentary

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
74 Metascore

To many, Don McCullin is the greatest living war photographer, often cited as an inspiration for today's photojournalists. For the first time, McCullin speaks candidly about his ... See full summary »

Directors: David Morris, Jacqui Morris | Stars: Harold Evans, Don McCullin, Michael Parkinson, Sue Ryder

Votes: 1,996

38. Gimme Shelter (1970)

R | 91 min | Documentary, Music, Thriller

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
80 Metascore

A harrowing documentary of the Stones' 1969 tour, with much of the focus on the tragic concert at Altamont.

Directors: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin | Stars: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, Charlie Watts

Votes: 9,044 | Gross: $0.25M

39. Waltz with Bashir (2008)

R | 90 min | Animation, Biography, Drama

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
91 Metascore

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.

Director: Ari Folman | Stars: Ari Folman, Ron Ben-Yishai, Ronny Dayag, Ori Sivan

Votes: 49,426 | Gross: $2.28M

40. Night Will Fall (2014)

Not Rated | 75 min | Documentary, History, War

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
85 Metascore

Researchers discover film footage from World War II that turns out to be a lost documentary shot by Alfred Hitchcock and Sidney Bernstein in 1945 about German concentration camps.

Director: Andre Singer | Stars: Helena Bonham Carter, Jasper Britton, Leonard Berney, George Leonard

Votes: 2,446

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

TV-14 | 279 min | Documentary

8.7
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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: 27,197

42. Blackfish (2013)

PG-13 | 83 min | Documentary, Drama

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
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: 51,924 | Gross: $2.06M

43. That Sugar Film (2014)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
56 Metascore

Damon Gameau embarks on an experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body.

Director: Damon Gameau | Stars: Damon Gameau, Hugh Jackman, Milla Bakaitis, Richard Davies

Votes: 6,423

44. The Seven Five (2014)

R | 104 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
69 Metascore

Meet the dirtiest cop in NYC history. Michael Dowd stole money and dealt drugs while patrolling the streets of 80s Brooklyn.

Director: Tiller Russell | Stars: Ken Eurell, Walter Yurkiw, Chickie, Dori Eurell

Votes: 3,865 | Gross: $0.01M

45. Earthlings (2005)

95 min | Documentary, Horror

8.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

Using hidden cameras and never-before-seen footage, Earthlings chronicles the day-to-day practices of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit.

Director: Shaun Monson | Star: Joaquin Phoenix

Votes: 14,635

46. Unser täglich Brot (2005)

Not Rated | 92 min | Documentary

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
86 Metascore

OUR DAILY BREAD is a wide-screen tableau of a feast which isn't always easy to digest - and in which we all take part. A pure, meticulous and high-end film experience that enables the audience to form their own ideas.

Director: Nikolaus Geyrhalter | Stars: Claus Hansen Petz, Arkadiusz Rydellek, Barbara Hinz, Renata Wypchlo

Votes: 2,219

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

Not Rated | 119 min | Documentary

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
80 Metascore

A film that claims to be a look at the inner-workings of the Church of Scientology.

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

Votes: 30,396

48. Bitter Lake (2015)

136 min | Documentary

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

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: 2,012

49. The Century of the Self (2002– )

235 min | Documentary

9.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9/10 X  
80 Metascore

A documentary about the rise of psychoanalysis as a powerful means of persuasion for both governments and corporations.

Stars: Adam Curtis, Ann Bernays, Robert Reich, Alfred Pritz

Votes: 3,671

50. Five Broken Cameras (2011)

Not Rated | 94 min | Documentary, War

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
78 Metascore

A documentary on a Palestinian farmer's chronicle of his nonviolent resistance to the actions of the Israeli army.

Directors: Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi | Stars: Emad Burnat, Soraya Burnat, Mohammed Burnat, Yasin Burnat

Votes: 5,218 | Gross: $0.11M

51. Pumping Iron (1977)

PG | 85 min | Documentary, Sport

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

From Gold's Gym in Venice Beach California to the showdown in Pretoria, amateur and professional bodybuilders prepare for the 1975 Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe contests in this ... See full summary »

Directors: George Butler, Robert Fiore | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Matty Ferrigno, Victoria Ferrigno

Votes: 18,165