My Labor of Love, ramblr78 List of Best Documentaries (For The Adventurous Enthusiast)by ramblr78 | created - 27 Aug 2011 | updated - 1 month ago | Public
I've watched a lot of documentaries and these are my personal picks (with comments) for the top 57 (and counting)!
- Instant Watch Options
- Movies or TV
- IMDb Rating
- In Theaters
- On TV
- Release Year
1. Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (2014)
TV-PG | 557 min | Documentary
An exploration of our discovery of the laws of nature and coordinates in space and time.
Well told, extremely engaging. Provides a concise history of mankind, narrated in an objective yet interesting manner. Must watch for everyone.
2. 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: 15,188 | Gross: $0.94M
I love adventure/exploration docs and Werner Herzog films, this film has both.
3. Earthlings (2005)
95 min | Documentary
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.
Extremely powerful, a reflection on who we are and where we are going as a species. Is it time for a paradigm shift towards a gentler more peaceful world? I really hope this film will persuade you that it is.
Feels like watching life from another dimension. Maha Khumb, a spiritual event for Hindus which proclaims to wash their sins away in the three sacred rivers that connect once every 12 years. Disciplined and dedicated saints doing penance towards achieving moksha and spiritual enlightenment. Methods: questionable and subjective. Goal: enlightenment, the noblest path mankind can follow. have been to the last two Maha Khumbu Melas, in Allahabad in 2001 and in 2013 and yes, there are people like this (I mean the foreigners) Find it on You-Tube. Ecstatic docu.
6. Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015)
TV-MA | 145 min | Documentary, Animation, Biography
Extremely well crafted documentary, whether you care much for the subject matter or not (I surely do), worth seeing.
Brett Morgan, we need to see Dave Grohl's interview, please edit it back in :(
7. 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: 21,002 | Gross: $7.83M
Amazing doc, should be on anyone's top doc list imho.
8. Hated: GG Allin & the Murder Junkies (1993)
Not Rated | 52 min | Documentary, Biography, Music
Documentary about notorious punk rock performer GG Allin.
This guy was the real deal. Amazing character, haters will hate but Kevin Allin was a messenger from another dimension. Just watched the film, I am still awestruck.
9. Bill Cunningham New York (2010)
Not Rated | 84 min | Documentary, Biography, History
A profile of the noted and extraordinarily cheerful veteran New York City fashion photographer.
Votes: 4,644 | Gross: $1.51M
Not a fashion fan personally, but Bill is an truly inspiring human being who never made compromises in his craft. One of the greatest and last of the original American Bohemians.
10. Samsara (I) (2011)
PG-13 | 102 min | Documentary, Music
Filmed over nearly five years in twenty-five countries on five continents, and shot on seventy-millimetre film, Samsara transports us to the varied worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders.
Votes: 26,787 | Gross: $2.60M
Opening scene a dance, closing scene a desert, life is a dance, an unwritten page is our future, we have a choice on where we want to go as human beings, it's still not too late to become the dream.
11. Beautiful People (1974)
G | 92 min | Comedy, Documentary
Hilarious documentary on the wildlife of the Namib Desert.
12. Frozen Planet (2011)
TV-PG | 60 min | Documentary
Focuses on life and the environment in both the Arctic and Antarctic.
Wonderful series focusing on present day climate change and how the two poles become the epicenter for the future of our planet's environmental stability. Fantastic writing, narration, photography, extremely informative. I've watched many (most?) BBC/Attenborough collaborations and this one, for me, was the most engaging.
America Undercover (1983– )
The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer
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 »
Another compelling and truly chilling character, this 40 min HBO interview is a must watch.
14. The Money Masters (1996)
210 min | Documentary
The Money Masters is a 1996 documentary film that discusses the concepts of money, debt, taxes, and describes their development from biblical times onward.
Released in 1996, it was the first docu in which several more were to follow in the fifteen years after, gives a historical and what proves to be a prophetic account of the shortcomings of America's economic policies (2008 crash and subsequent recession). Despite some dated theorys (gold standard) the film describes the history of how it all came to be, which is a HUGE fraud and the very thing our forefathers came here to escape; an aristocracy overseen by the landed banking class. Very dry, very low budget, VERY informative
15. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
R | 87 min | Documentary, Comedy, Crime
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 »
Votes: 55,653 | Gross: $3.29M
Amazing doc about an experience from Banksy's life the true artist, others will imitate but nobody can measure up to Banksy, esp. that what's his name Hirst cough*
16. 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: 4,260 | Gross: $2.28M
I watched this film at the age of 13, the first docu I had ever seen in a movie theater and still remember vividly the day, the movie theater in which I saw it and the inspiration I felt after watching it.
17. Making a Murderer (2015– )
TV-14 | 60 min | Documentary, Crime
Filmed over a 10-year period, Steven Avery, a DNA exoneree who, while in the midst of exposing corruption in local law enforcement, finds himself the prime suspect in a grisly new crime. ... See full summary »
18. Inside Job (2010)
PG-13 | 105 min | Documentary, Crime
Takes a closer look at what brought about the 2008 financial meltdown.
Votes: 61,895 | Gross: $4.31M
Excellent docu about the financial meltdown of 2008, very dry, very informative and very accurate, pay attention and understand.
19. Blackfish (2013)
PG-13 | 83 min | Documentary, Drama
A documentary following the controversial captivity of killer whales, and its dangers for both humans and whales.
Votes: 52,228 | Gross: $2.06M
Living wild intelligent creatures are not meant to be exploited, free the orca whale.
20. Last Chance U (2016– )
TV-MA | 55 min | Documentary, Sport
"Last Chance U" follows a group of young men training to become the future stars of the NFL. Based at East Mississippi Community College (EMCC), "Last Chance U" takes us on a journey to ... See full summary »
Love the human aspect of this film, great story, a must watch for sports fans especially football. Strong southern accent recommend watching with subtitles. Netflix keep these great serials and documentaries coming, giving HBO a run for its money :)
21. Pumping Iron (1977)
PG | 85 min | Documentary, Sport
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 »
22. Jodorowsky's Dune (2013)
PG-13 | 90 min | Documentary
The story of cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky's ambitious but ultimately doomed film adaptation of the seminal science fiction novel.
Votes: 17,086 | Gross: $0.65M
Salvador Dali, Orson Welles, Mick Jagger Oh My! At the one time, when all of the stars aligned, it pains me to know that a film this monumental was never made. Well crafted docu, in tune with the subject matter, nails the music, imagery and interviews.
23. How to Make Money Selling Drugs (2012)
Not Rated | 96 min | Documentary, Crime
Ten easy steps show you how to make money from drugs, featuring a series of interviews with drug dealers, prison employees, and lobbyists arguing for tougher drug laws.
Votes: 6,313 | Gross: $1.50M
watched the docu twice found it even better the second time through
24. Room 237 (I) (2012)
Not Rated | 102 min | Documentary
Votes: 18,447 | Gross: $0.26M
Intriguing conspiracy theory written on the greatest horror film of all time.
25. Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus (2003)
82 min | Documentary
Searching for The Wrong-Eyed Jesus is a captivating and compelling road trip through the creative spirit of the the Southern U.S. Director Andrew Douglas's film follows "Alt Country" singer... See full summary »
Votes: 1,021 | Gross: $0.08M
26. Cutie and the Boxer (2013)
R | 82 min | Documentary, Biography
This candid New York love story explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of famed boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko. Anxious to shed her role as her overbearing husband's assistant, Noriko finds an identity of her own.
Votes: 4,114 | Gross: $0.20M
27. Louie Bluie (1985)
Not Rated | 75 min | Documentary, Music
About the obscure country-blues musician and idiosyncratic visual artist Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong, member of the last known black string band in America.
Catch it on you tube while its still there, otherwise very hard to find.
28. Grizzly Man (2005)
R | 103 min | Documentary, Biography
Votes: 45,469 | Gross: $3.17M
29. The Wildest Dream (2010)
PG | 94 min | Documentary, Adventure, Biography
Uses astonishing visuals to tell the intersecting stories of George Mallory, the first man to attempt a summit of Mount Everest, and Conrad Anker, the mountaineer who finds Mallory's frozen remains 75 years later.
Votes: 1,976 | Gross: $0.87M
A little dry for my taste as a docu, but the story is so amazing to me thus the high ranking.
30. Streetwise (1984)
91 min | Documentary
Gritty documentary looks at the life and lives of teenagers living on the streets of Seattle.
Although not exactly the same in subject matter, I found this film much more interesting than the more publicised 'Dark Days' and made 15 years ealier.
31. The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)
Not Rated | 100 min | Documentary, History, Music
The Los Angeles punk music scene circa 1980 is the focus of this film. With Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Discipline, Circle Jerks, Fear, Germs, and X.
34. The Cove (2009)
PG-13 | 92 min | Documentary, Crime
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.
Votes: 43,194 | Gross: $0.86M
35. Vernon, Florida (1981)
Not Rated | 55 min | Documentary, Comedy
Early Errol Morris documentary intersplices random chatter he captured on film of the genuinely eccentric residents of Vernon, Florida. A few examples? The preacher giving a sermon on the ... See full summary »
More eccentric people with some fantastic quotes to boot.
36. The Art of Flight (2011)
PG-13 | 80 min | Documentary, Adventure, Sport
Two years in the making, "The Art of FLIGHT" gives iconic snowboarder Travis Rice and friends the opportunity to redefine what is possible in the mountains. Experience the highs, as new ... See full summary »
Different Drummer (1989–1991)
Not Rated | 29 min | Documentary
This documentary short, produced for West Virginia public TV's "Different Drummer" series, introduces us to Jesco White, a hard-living, tap-dancing Boone County resident whose repeated ... See full summary »
38. Fast Food Nation (2006)
R | 116 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
An ensemble piece examining the health risks involved in the fast food industry and its environmental and social consequences as well.
Votes: 21,879 | Gross: $1.00M
40. Armadillo (2010)
Not Rated | 105 min | Documentary, War
In February of 2009, a group of Danish soldiers accompanied by documentarian Janus Metz arrived at Armadillo, an army base in the southern Afghan province of Helmand. Metz and ... See full summary »
Director: Janus Metz
Votes: 8,577 | Gross: $0.01M
Very similar to Restrepo I found this film more informative and educational than its English speaking counterpart.
42. The Corporation (2003)
Unrated | 145 min | Documentary, History
Documentary that looks at the concept of the corporation throughout recent history up to its present-day dominance.
Votes: 19,030 | Gross: $1.88M
43. Stories We Tell (2012)
PG-13 | 108 min | Documentary
A film that excavates layers of myth and memory to find the elusive truth at the core of a family of storytellers.
Votes: 10,487 | Gross: $1.60M
Slow start but after the first 30 mins or so it becomes a very interesting film about an ordinary family who find themselves in caught in the middle of an extraordinary situation. Very touching.
Unrated | 85 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime
A rare behind-the-curtain look at the Earth Liberation Front, the radical environmental group that the FBI calls America's 'number one domestic terrorist threat.'
Votes: 2,834 | Gross: $0.06M
45. Where to Invade Next (2015)
R | 120 min | Documentary, Comedy
To learn what the USA can learn from other nations, Michael Moore playfully "invades" them to see what they have to offer.
Votes: 18,393 | Gross: $3.82M
Not a Michael Moore fan, but this was an entertaining albeit patronizing and unreliable inquisition into the basic governing systems of other countries, especially European social systems. Informative with a few enlightening quotes from his subjects.
46. TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away from Keyboard (2013)
Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary
An intellectual freedoms documentary based around the interpersonal triumphs, and defeats of the three main characters against the largest industry in the known universe. The media industry.
Not a great docu in terms of content, but because it is a subject that is getting so much attention these days (and because I wouldn't have been able to watch a number of these outstanding films without it); thus the high ranking.
47. The Economics of Happiness (2011)
67 min | Documentary, News
'The Economics of Happiness' features a chorus of voices from six continents calling for systemic economic change. The documentary describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing ... See full summary »
More like the Economics of Localization (I'm all for localization ftr), but not the best docu in terms of subject matter, facts and qualified sources. Happiness is a subject that NEEDS to be discussed more as it is clearly lacking in this fast growing world at present. It is our responsibility to make our modern day system assist us in being happy which is more important than anything else in life. MUST WATCH.
48. Man on Wire (2008)
PG-13 | 94 min | Documentary, Biography
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".
Votes: 45,945 | Gross: $2.96M
Although the story itself is intriguing, I found this film failed to convey the poetic act that it was trying to recount.
49. 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.
50. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
PG | 96 min | Documentary
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.
Votes: 73,844 | Gross: $23.81M
The BBC Earth et al. series' are far superior to this, but credit must be given to Al Gore and co. for bringing the global warming issue to the mainstream forefront.
51. Ekspeditionen til verdens ende (2013)
Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary, Adventure, Comedy
A grand and adventurous journey of discovery to the last white areas of the world map. But no matter how far we go and how hard we try to find answers, we ultimately meet ourselves and our own transience.
Votes: 447 | Gross: $0.04M
Beautiful cinematography, lacks direction, seems intentional, real, some characters more interesting than others.
52. Super Size Me (2004)
PG | 100 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama
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.
Votes: 91,523 | Gross: $11.53M
As if we didn't know already...
53. March of the Penguins (2005)
G | 80 min | Documentary, Family
In the Antarctic, every March since the beginning of time, the quest begins to find the perfect mate and start a family.
Votes: 50,653 | Gross: $77.44M
54. Hearts and Minds (1974)
R | 112 min | Documentary, War
An examination of the conflicting attitudes of the opponents of the Vietnam War.
Votes: 4,565 | Gross: $0.03M
More war, more needless deaths and shattered lives based on a false premise.
55. Earth (2007)
G | 90 min | Documentary
Feature-length version of the documentary TV series Planet Earth (2006), following the migration paths of four animal families.
Votes: 13,342 | Gross: $38.05M
Moments of breathtaking imagery the first half somehow seems more captivating than the second. Planet Earth II coming next year, very excited.
56. Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers (2006)
75 min | Documentary, War
Robert Greenwald looks at war profiteering in Iraq by private contracting companies Halliburton, CACI, and KBR.
57. Zeitgeist (2007 Video)
Not Rated | 118 min | Documentary, History
Mythology and belief in society today, presenting uncommon perspectives of common cultural issues.
Too far fetched with questionable facts and sources for my taste the first 20 or so minutes about the history of religion proved very enlightening.