Great Documentary Moviesby nanch | created - 22 Aug 2011 | updated - 6 months ago | Public
My ever expanding list of recommended documentary movies. In no particular order.
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1. Hoop Dreams (1994)
PG-13 | 170 min | Documentary, Drama, Sport
A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.
Votes: 21,093 | Gross: $7.83M
2. One Day in September (1999)
R | 94 min | Documentary, History, Sport
The Palestinian terrorist group Black September holds Israeli athletes hostage at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich.
Votes: 5,221 | Gross: $0.16M
5. Style Wars (1983 TV Movie)
69 min | Documentary, Music
A documentary that exposes the rich growing subculture of hip-hop that was developing in New York City in the late '70s and early '80s, specifically focusing on graffiti art and breakdancing.
7. Scratch (2001)
R | 92 min | Documentary, Music
A feature-length documentary film about hip-hop DJing, otherwise known as turntablism. From the South Bronx in the 1970s to San Francisco now, the world's best scratchers, beat-diggers, ... See full summary »
8. Children Underground (2001)
Not Rated | 104 min | Documentary
A profile of homeless Romanian children who were born victims of the nation's reckless population growth policy during its communist era.
9. Knuckle (2011)
R | 97 min | Documentary, Biography, Drama
An epic 12-year journey into the brutal and secretive world of Irish Traveler bare-knuckle fighting. This film follows a history of violent feuding between rival clans.
Votes: 2,574 | Gross: $0.00M
10. 10 MPH (2007)
Not Rated | 92 min | Documentary
Two guys quit stodgy corporate jobs, scrounged up all the savings they could, collected credit cards, and stepped - or better yet - scooted forward to follow their biggest dream: to become ... See full summary »
11. Seven Up! (1964 TV Short)
39 min | Documentary, Short, Biography
A group of seven-year-old British children from widely ranging backgrounds are interviewed about a range of subjects. Director Michael Apted plans to reinterview them at seven-year ... See full summary »
12. American Movie (1999)
R | 107 min | Documentary, Comedy
Documentary about an aspiring filmmaker's attempts to finance his dream project by finally completing the low-budget horror film he abandoned years before.
Votes: 14,717 | Gross: $1.16M
13. 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.
15. Koyaanisqatsi (1982)
Not Rated | 86 min | Documentary, Music
A collection of expertly photographed phenomena with no conventional plot. The footage focuses on nature, humanity and the relationship between them.
Votes: 29,626 | Gross: $1.72M
16. Powaqqatsi (1988)
G | 99 min | Documentary, Music
An exploration of technologically developing nations and the effect the transition to Western-style modernization has had on them.
Votes: 6,680 | Gross: $0.59M
20. Roger & Me (1989)
R | 91 min | Documentary
Votes: 23,980 | Gross: $6.71M
21. A Brief History of Time (1991)
G | 80 min | Documentary, Biography
A film about the life and work of the cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, who despite his near total paralysis, is one of the great minds of all time.
Votes: 4,271 | Gross: $2.28M
22. The Thin Blue Line (1988)
Not Rated | 101 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama
A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas.
Votes: 18,219 | Gross: $1.21M
23. Standard Operating Procedure (2008)
R | 116 min | Documentary, Crime, War
Errol Morris examines the incidents of abuse and torture of suspected terrorists at the hands of U.S. forces at the Abu Ghraib prison.
Votes: 3,553 | Gross: $0.23M
PG-13 | 107 min | Documentary, Biography, History
Votes: 20,632 | Gross: $4.19M
25. Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (1997)
PG | 80 min | Documentary
A documentary that explores the careers of four unrelated professionals: a lion tamer, a robotics expert, a topiary gardener, and a naked mole rat specialist.
Votes: 3,338 | Gross: $0.83M
28. Burden of Dreams (1982)
Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary
A documentary on the chaotic production of Werner Herzog's epic Fitzcarraldo (1982), showing how the film managed to get made despite problems that would have floored a less obsessively ... See full summary »
29. Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers (1980)
Not Rated | 51 min | Documentary, History
A documentary on the history of garlic. Blank interviews chefs, garlic lovers, and historians about the their love of the 'stinking rose.'
30. Ônibus 174 (2002)
R | 122 min | Documentary, Crime
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 »
Votes: 7,172 | Gross: $0.22M
31. Cane Toads: An Unnatural History (1988)
47 min | Documentary, Comedy
A documentary detailing the spread of Hawaiian sugar-cane toads through Australia in a botched effort to introduce them as counter pests.
33. The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom (2007– )
180 min | Documentary
Individual freedom is the dream of our age. It's what our leaders promise to give us, it defines how we think of ourselves and, repeatedly, we have gone to war to impose freedom around the ... See full synopsis »
157 min | Documentary, History
A series of three documentaries about the use of fear for political gain.
35. The Cruise (1998)
PG-13 | 76 min | Documentary
Affectionate portrait of Tim "Speed" Levitch, a tour guide for Manhattan's Gray Line double-decker buses. He talks fast, is in love with the city, and dispenses historical facts, ... See full summary »
Votes: 1,459 | Gross: $0.24M
39. The Farm: Angola, USA (1998)
88 min | Documentary
Documentary depicting day to day life in Angola Prison mostly from an inmate's perspective. Interviews are with several inmates including one with a life sentence who is about to die.
42. Gimme Shelter (1970)
R | 91 min | Documentary, Music, Thriller
A harrowing documentary of the Stones' 1969 tour, with much of the focus on the tragic concert at Altamont.
Votes: 9,138 | Gross: $0.25M
43. When We Were Kings (1996)
PG | 88 min | Documentary, Sport
A documentary of the 1974 heavyweight championship bout in Zaire, "The Rumble in the Jungle," between champion George Foreman and underdog challenger Muhammad Ali.
Votes: 13,280 | Gross: $2.67M
44. Grey Gardens (1975)
PG | 94 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama
An old mother and her middle-aged daughter, the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy, live their eccentric lives in a filthy, decaying mansion in East Hampton.
Votes: 9,620 | Gross: $0.03M
45. Salesman (1969)
G | 85 min | Documentary, Drama
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.
46. Grizzly Man (2005)
R | 103 min | Documentary, Biography
Votes: 45,674 | Gross: $3.17M
47. Encounters at the End of the World (2007)
G | 99 min | Documentary
Film-maker Werner Herzog travels to the McMurdo Station in Antarctica, looking to capture the continent's beauty and investigate the characters living there.
Votes: 15,250 | Gross: $0.94M
48. The White Diamond (2004)
Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary
About the daring adventure of exploring rain forest canopy with a novel flying device-the Jungle Airship. Airship engineer Dr. Graham Dorrington embarks on a trip to the giant Kaieteur ... See full summary »
49. Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (2000 TV Movie)
65 min | Documentary, Adventure, Biography
Werner Herzog returns to the South American jungle with Juliane Koepcke, the German woman who was the sole survivor of a plane crash there in 1971. They find the remains of the plane and recreate her journey out of the jungle.
50. Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997)
Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary, Biography, Drama
German-American Dieter Dengler discusses his service as an American naval pilot in the Vietnam War. Dengler also revisits the sites of his capture and eventual escape from the hands of the Vietcong, recreating many events for the camera.
51. Land of Silence and Darkness (1971)
Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary
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, this film shows how the deaf and blind... See full summary »
52. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991)
R | 96 min | Documentary
Documentary that chronicles how Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979) was plagued by extraordinary script, shooting, budget, and casting problems--nearly destroying the life and career of the celebrated director.
Votes: 15,536 | Gross: $1.32M
54. Incident at Oglala (1992)
PG | 89 min | Documentary, History
This film describes the events surrounding a 1975 shootout at the Pine Ridge reservation in S. Dakota where two FBI agents were killed.
Votes: 948 | Gross: $0.54M
86 min | Documentary, History
Featuring never-before-seen footage, this documentary delivers a startling new look at the Peoples Temple, headed by preacher Jim Jones who, in 1978, led more than 900 members to Guyana, where he orchestrated a mass suicide via tainted punch.
57. The Man Who Skied Down Everest (1975)
G | 86 min | Documentary
A Japanese skier ultimately dreamed of literally skiing Mt. Everest. He planned to ski some 8,000 feet down an icy glacier at a 40 to 45 degree angle, from the 26,000 foot level near the ... See full summary »
59. Murderball (2005)
R | 88 min | Documentary, Sport
Quadriplegics, who play full-contact rugby in wheelchairs, overcome unimaginable obstacles to compete in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Votes: 9,358 | Gross: $1.52M
61. Sicko (2007)
PG-13 | 123 min | Documentary, Drama
A documentary comparing the highly profitable American health care industry to other nations, and HMO horror stories including shotgun deaths.
Votes: 69,820 | Gross: $24.54M
63. A State of Mind (2004)
93 min | Documentary
A British documentary that follows two young North Korean girls as they prepare for the Mass Games, the world's largest choreographed gymnastics performance.
Votes: 966 | Gross: $0.04M
65. Swimming to Cambodia (1987)
R | 85 min | Comedy, Drama
Votes: 1,785 | Gross: $1.09M
68. Touching the Void (2003)
R | 106 min | Documentary, Adventure, Drama
The true story of two climbers and their perilous journey up the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985.
Votes: 29,527 | Gross: $4.58M
69. My Enemy's Enemy (2007)
PG-13 | 87 min | Documentary, Biography, History
A look at the history of one-time Gestapo commander Klaus Barbie, infamously known as "The Butcher of Lyon." This documentary's main focus will be on Barbie's post-war activities, in which ... See full summary »
70. The Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires (1996 TV Movie)
Three part documentary that shows the insight look at the history of computers, from its rise in the 1970s to the beginning of the Dot-com boom of the late 1990s.
71. Unzipped (1995)
R | 73 min | Documentary
Isaac Mizrahi, one of the most successful designers in high fashion, plans his fall 1994 collection. He combines inspirations such as the Hollywood Eskimo look, the Mary Tyler Moore show, ... See full summary »
Votes: 976 | Gross: $2.88M
73. Der Lauf der Dinge (1987)
Not Rated | 30 min | Documentary, Short
Inside a warehouse, a precarious 70-100 feet long structure has been constructed using various items. When this is set in motion, a chain reaction ensues. Fire, water, law of gravity as ... See full summary »
74. Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006)
PG | 92 min | Documentary
A documentary that investigates the birth and death of the electric car, as well as the role of renewable energy and sustainable living in the future.
Votes: 11,633 | Gross: $1.68M
75. Why We Fight (2005)
PG-13 | 98 min | Documentary, History, War
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.
Votes: 9,386 | Gross: $1.44M
77. Capturing the Friedmans (2003)
Not Rated | 107 min | Documentary, Biography
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.
Votes: 21,046 | Gross: $3.12M
80. Captured (2008)
Not Rated | 93 min | Documentary
CAPTURED - Since 1979 Clayton Patterson has dedicated his life to documenting the final era of raw creativity and lawlessness in New York City's Lower East Side, a neighborhood famed for ... See full summary »
82. The Bridge (I) (2006)
R | 94 min | Documentary, Drama
People suffer largely unnoticed while the rest of the world goes about its business. This is a documentary exploration of the mythic beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge, the most popular ... See full summary »
Votes: 10,078 | Gross: $0.18M
84. Murder on a Sunday Morning (2001)
Not Rated | 111 min | Documentary, Crime
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.
85. The Staircase (2004– )
TV-14 | 384 min | Documentary, Crime
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 »
87. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004)
Not Rated | 141 min | Documentary, Music
A documentary crew followed Metallica for the better part of 2001-2003, a time of tension and release for the rock band, as they recorded their album St. Anger, fought bitterly, and sought the counsel of their on-call shrink.
Votes: 15,015 | Gross: $1.22M
Not Rated | 150 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama
A horrific triple child murder leads to an indictment and trial of three nonconformist boys based on questionable evidence.
89. Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (2000 TV Movie)
Unrated | 130 min | Documentary, Crime
The case of the West Memphis Three, its questionable circumstances and the parties involved are followed up years later.
R | 87 min | Documentary, Crime
1992, Florida, USA. Aileen Wuornos is claimed to be the world's first female serial killer.
91. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003)
R | 93 min | Documentary, Crime
Nick Broomfield's second documentary on Aileen Carol Wuornos, a highway prostitute who was executed in 2002 for killing six men in the state of Florida. This second installment includes the filmmaker's testimony at Wournous's trial.
Votes: 5,327 | Gross: $0.10M
92. Biggie and Tupac (2002)
R | 108 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime
Documentary on the deaths of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls and the East Coast/West Coast, hip-hop/rap rivalry that culminated in late 1996 and early 1997.
Votes: 3,909 | Gross: $0.09M
93. Winnebago Man (2009)
85 min | Documentary, Biography, Comedy
Jack Rebney is the most famous man you've never heard of - after cursing his way through a Winnebago sales video, Rebney's outrageously funny outtakes became an underground sensation and ... See full summary »
Votes: 4,239 | Gross: $0.18M
94. Trouble the Water (2008)
Unrated | 93 min | Documentary
A redemptive tale of an aspiring rap artist surviving failed levees and her own troubled past and seizing a chance for a new beginning.
Votes: 1,794 | Gross: $0.52M
95. God Grew Tired of Us (2006)
PG | 89 min | Documentary
Four boys from Sudan embark on a journey to America after years of wandering Sub-Saharan Africa in search of safety.
Votes: 2,592 | Gross: $0.28M
96. Taxi to the Dark Side (2007)
R | 106 min | Documentary, Crime, War
Alex Gibney exposes the haunting details of the USA's torture and interrogation practices during the War in Afghanistan.
Votes: 12,712 | Gross: $0.27M
97. Les glaneurs et la glaneuse (2000)
Not Rated | 82 min | Documentary
An intimate, picaresque inquiry into French life as lived by the country's poor and its provident, as well as by the film's own director, Agnes Varda. The aesthetic, political and moral ... See full summary »
Votes: 4,328 | Gross: $0.15M
98. In the Year of the Pig (1968)
Not Rated | 103 min | Documentary, War
Produced at the height of the Vietnam War, Emile de Antonio's Oscar-nominated 1968 documentary chronicles the war's historical roots. With palpable outrage, De Antonio (Point of Order, ... See full summary »