My Best Documentary Winners

by jmpatison003 | created - 28 Oct 2011 | updated - 05 Aug 2012 | Public

This list details the films I feel should have won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature from 1942 through the present. My choices are purely opinion and largely reflect only those movies which I have seen, so my opinions, and subsequently this list, may change as time goes by and I see more films. I have also included whether or not my winner was nominated and/or won the Academy Award as well as the other films/actors/directors I would have nominated alongside my winner in PREFERENTIAL ORDER, though I do not have 4 nominees (5 in total) every single year until 1964. I also, like the Academy, have chosen not to give out an award for 1946. I do not have the time to write explanations for all of my choices so leave polite, mature feedback/comments and I'll be happy to justify my choices to the best of my ability. Note: For Nominees, * denotes category winner and ** denotes category winner for actual Academy Awards.

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1. The Battle of Midway (1942)

TV-G | 18 min | Short, Documentary, War

6.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The Japanese attack on Midway in June 1942, filmed as it happened.

Director: John Ford | Stars: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, Logan Ramsey, James Roosevelt

Votes: 1,064

Year: 1942 Director: John Ford Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes (tied) Nominees: **Prelude to War; **Moscow Strikes Back; **Kokoda Front Line!; Listen to Britain

2. Victory Through Air Power (1943)

70 min | Documentary, Animation, History

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

An animated documentary promoting of the soundness of strategic aerial bombing in World War II.

Directors: James Algar, Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kinney, H.C. Potter | Stars: Alexander de Seversky, Art Baker, Billy Mitchell

Votes: 674 | Gross: $0.80M

Year: 1943 Director: Perce Pearce (with H.C. Potter, James Algar, Clyde Geronimi, and Jack Kinney) Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: **Desert Victory; *The Battle of Russia; The Battle of Britain; *Report from the Aleutians

3. The Fighting Lady (1944)

Approved | 61 min | Documentary, History, War

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

The film follows the WWII exploits of the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10) (unidentified in the film), in its first major operations following its commissioning in 1943. ... See full summary »

Directors: Edward Steichen, William Wyler | Stars: Robert Taylor, Charles Boyer, Joseph J. Clark, Dixie Kiefer

Votes: 305

Year: 1944 Director: Edward Steichen Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: The Battle of China; *Resisting Enemy Interrogation

4. The True Glory (1945)

87 min | Documentary, War

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

A documentary account of the allied invasion of Europe during World War II compiled from the footage shot by nearly 1400 cameramen. It opens as the assembled allied forces plan and train ... See full summary »

Directors: Garson Kanin, Carol Reed | Stars: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Fallon, Robert Harris, Sam Levene

Votes: 319

Year: 1945 Director: Carol Reed Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *The Last Bomb; The Battle of San Pietro; War Comes to America; A Diary for Timothy

5. Design for Death (1947)

Approved | 48 min | Documentary

6.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

An Academy Award winner for best documentary, the film opens with a notice that..."Exhibition of confiscated Japanese film material authorized by permission of the Alien Property Custodian ... See full summary »

Stars: Kent Smith, Hans Conried

Votes: 21

Year: 1947 Director: Richard Fleischer Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *Journey Into Medicine; *The World Is Rich

6. The Quiet One (1948)

65 min | Documentary, Drama

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A documentary account of the rehabilitation at the Wiltwyck School of an emotionally disturbed Black boy who is unwanted, misunderstood, and inwardly tortured.

Director: Sidney Meyers | Stars: Gary Merrill, Donald Thompson, Clarence Cooper, Sadie Stockton

Votes: 139

Year: 1948 Director: Sidney Meyers Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; No Nominees: **The Secret Land; Seal Island

7. Daybreak in Udi (1949)

Approved | 47 min | Documentary

5.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

This 47-minute documentary, financed by HRH's government, won an Oscar in the special category, and most of it was later edited into a 1953 two-segment documentary called "Savage World" by ... See full summary »

Director: Terry Bishop | Stars: E.R. Chadwick, Harford Anerobi, Fanny Elumeze, Joseph Amalu

Votes: 27

Year: 1949 Director: Terry Bishop Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominee: *Kenji Comes Home

8. The Titan: Story of Michelangelo (1950)

Not Rated | 70 min | Documentary

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The life and works of the great artist Michelangelo Buonarroti are shown against the historical background of his time. It begins with his earliest artworks, and follows his life and career... See full summary »

Directors: Robert J. Flaherty, Richard Lyford, Curt Oertel | Star: Fredric March

Votes: 39

Year: 1950 Director: Robert J. Flaherty, Richard Lyford, and Curt Oertel Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *With These Hands

9. Kon-Tiki (1950)

Approved | 77 min | Documentary

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A documentary about the Kon-Tiki expedition of the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl.

Director: Thor Heyerdahl | Stars: Thor Heyerdahl, Herman Watzinger, Erik Hesselberg, Knut Haugland

Votes: 1,969

Year: 1951 Director: Thor Heyerdahl Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: None

10. The Sea Around Us (1953)

Approved | 62 min | Documentary

6.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Irwin Allen explores the mysteries of the deep blue sea in this Technicolor documentary. Based on Rachel L. Carson's famous study, this Oscar winning project investigates everything under ... See full summary »

Director: Irwin Allen | Stars: Don Forbes, Theodore von Eltz

Votes: 143

Year: 1952 Director: Irwin Allen Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *Navajo; *The Hoaxters

11. The Living Desert (1953)

Passed | 69 min | Family, Documentary

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

Documentary of the live of flora and fauna in a desert in the US.

Director: James Algar | Star: Winston Hibler

Votes: 973

Year: 1953 Director: James Algar Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *A Queen Is Crowned; *The Conquest of Everest; The Seafarers

12. The Back of Beyond (1954)

66 min | Documentary

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Add a Plot

Director: John Heyer | Stars: Tom Kruse, William Henry Butler, Jack the Dogger, Old Joe the Rainmaker

Votes: 52

Year: 1954 Director: John Heyer Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: **The Vanishing Prairie; The Stratford Adventure

13. The Unconquered (1954)

Approved | 55 min | Documentary

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

This documentary chronicles the life of Helen Keller, who was struck by an illness as a young child that left her both blind and deaf. Aided by her devoted teacher, Anne Sullivan, Keller is... See full summary »

Director: Nancy Hamilton | Stars: Katharine Cornell, Helen Keller, Polly Thompson, Dwight D. Eisenhower

Votes: 47

Year: 1955 Director: Nancy Hamilton Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: Night and Fog (Nuit et brouillard); *Crevecoeur (Heartbreak Ridge)

14. Le monde du silence (1956)

86 min | Documentary

7.2
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This pioneering nature documentary investigates aquatic habitats in various locations around the world. It doesn't shy away from the brutality present in the natural world, but it also ... See full summary »

Directors: Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Louis Malle | Stars: Frédéric Dumas, Albert Falco, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, François Saout

Votes: 1,088

Year: 1956 Director: Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Louis Malle Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *The Naked Eye; *Where Mountains Float (Hvor bjergene sejler); The Animal World

15. Albert Schweitzer (1957)

Approved | 85 min | Documentary, Biography, History

6.5
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This biographical drama/part-time documentary, narrative written by Dr. Albert Schweitzer and spoken by Fredric March, traces the life of Dr. Schweitzer (with actors playing the characters)... See full summary »

Director: Jerome Hill | Stars: Burgess Meredith, Fredric March, Albert Schweitzer, Helene Schweitzer

Votes: 65

Year: 1957 Director: Jerome Hill Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *On the Bowery; *Torero

16. White Wilderness (1958)

Approved | 72 min | Documentary, Family

5.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

The wildlife of the arctic is explored in this true-life adventure.

Director: James Algar | Stars: Winston Hibler, Volmer Sørensen

Votes: 298

Year: 1958 Director: James Algar Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *The Hidden World; *Antarctic Crossing; *Psychiatric Nursing

17. Serengeti (1959)

85 min | Documentary

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Add a Plot

Director: Bernhard Grzimek | Stars: Bernhard Grzimek, Holger Hagen, Hermann Rockmann

Votes: 327

Year: 1959 Director: Bernard Grzimek Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *The Race for Space; *From Generation to Generation

18. Primary (1960)

Not Rated | 60 min | Documentary

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

Cinéma vérité feature that follows presidential hopefuls John F. Kennedy and Hubert H. Humphrey during the 1960 Wisconsin primary.

Director: Robert Drew | Stars: Robert Drew, Hubert H. Humphrey, Muriel Buck Humphrey, Joseph Julian

Votes: 824

Year: 1960 Director: Robert Drew Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: **The Horse with the Flying Tail; Chronicle of Summer (Chronique d'un ete); *Rebel in Paradise

19. Le ciel et la boue (1961)

92 min | Documentary

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

In September, 1959, six Europeans leave Cook's Bay on the southern coast of Dutch New Guinea, now West Papua or Irian Jaya, to trek north to the far side of the island. The journey (450 ... See full summary »

Director: Pierre-Dominique Gaisseau | Stars: Gerard Delloye, Tony Saulnier, Herve de Maigret, William Dexter

Votes: 182

Note: Title translates Sky Above and Mud Beneath Year: 1961 Director: Pierre Dominique Gaisseau Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominee: *The Grand Olympics (La grande olimpiade)

20. Black Fox: The True Story of Adolf Hitler (1962)

89 min | Documentary, Biography, War

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The rise and fall of Nazi Germany in part through the use of classical allegory.

Director: Louis Clyde Stoumen | Star: Marlene Dietrich

Votes: 121

Year: 1962 Director: Louis Clyde Stoumen Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominee: *Alvorada

21. The Yanks Are Coming (1963)

45 min | Documentary

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

A documentary--nominated for an Academy Award--about the American involvement in World War I.

Director: Marshall Flaum | Star: Richard Basehart

Year: 1963 Director: Marshall Flaum Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; No Nominees: **Robert Frost: A Lover's Quarrel with the World; *The Link and the Chain (Le maillon et la chaine)

22. Seven Up! (1964 TV Short)

39 min | Documentary, Short, Biography

8.1
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    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. Director Michael Apted plans to reinterview them at seven-year ... See full summary »

Director: Paul Almond | Stars: Douglas Keay, Bruce Balden, Jacqueline Bassett, Symon Basterfield

Votes: 2,830

Year: 1964 Director: Paul Almond Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: Point of Order; **World Without Sun (Le monde sans soleil); *Four Days in November; *Alleman

23. The Battle of the Bulge... The Brave Rifles (1965)

52 min | Documentary, War

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Hitler's last offensive in 1944 in the Ardennes, with which he desperately tried to stop the allies thereof, to reach Antwerp.

Director: Laurence E. Mascott | Star: Arthur Kennedy

Votes: 34

Year: 1965 Director: Laurence E. Mascott Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; No Nominees: *Let My People Go: The Story of Israel; **The Eleanor Roosevelt Story; *The Forth Road Bridge; *To Die in Madrid (Mourir a Madrid)

24. The War Game (1965 TV Movie)

48 min | Documentary, Drama, War

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

A docudrama depicting a hypothetical nuclear attack on Britain.

Director: Peter Watkins | Stars: Michael Aspel, Peter Graham, Kathy Staff, Peter Watkins

Votes: 5,275

Year: 1966 Director: Peter Watkins Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *Le volcan interdit; *Helicopter Canada; *The Face of a Genius; Castro Street

25. Titicut Follies (1967)

Unrated | 84 min | Documentary

7.9
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    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.

Director: Frederick Wiseman

Votes: 3,167

Year: 1967 Director: Frederick Wiseman Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: Warrendale; **The Anderson Platoon (Le section Anderson); *A Time for Burning; *A King's Story

26. Journey Into Self (1969)

47 min | Documentary

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

The film portrays a 16-hour group-therapy session for eight well-adjusted people who had never met before.

Director: Bill McGaw | Stars: Richard Farson, Stanley Kramer, Carl Rogers

Votes: 31

Year: 1968 Director: Tom Skinner Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *Legendary Champions; High School; *Other Voices; *A Few Notes on Our Food Problem

27. Before the Mountain Was Moved (1970)

Documentary, Drama

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

A group of poor people in Raleigh County, West Virginia organize when strip mining is damaging their houses and community. They work to get the state legislature to pass some strong laws protecting citizens against coal mining interests.

Director: Robert K. Sharpe

Votes: 19

Year: 1969 Director: Robert K. Sharpe Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; No Nominees: *In the Year of the Pig; Salesman; **Arthur Rubinstein - The Love of Life; *The Olympics in Mexico (Olimpiada en Mexico)

28. Woodstock (1970)

R | 184 min | Documentary, History, Music

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

The film chronicle of the legendary 1969 music festival.

Director: Michael Wadleigh | Stars: Joan Baez, Richie Havens, Roger Daltrey, Joe Cocker

Votes: 13,685 | Gross: $50.00M

Year: 1970 Director: Michael Wadleigh Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: Let It Be; *King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis; *Jack Johnson; Gimme Shelter

29. The Sorrow and the Pity (1969)

PG | 251 min | Documentary, History, War

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

From 1940 to 1944, France's Vichy government collaborated with Nazi Germany. Marcel Ophüls mixes archival footage with 1969 interviews of a German officer and of collaborators and ... See full summary »

Director: Marcel Ophüls | Stars: Georges Bidault, Matthäus Bleibinger, Charles Braun, Maurice Buckmaster

Votes: 2,982

Year: 1971 Director: Marcel Ophuls Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; No Nominees: *On Any Sunday; Land of Silence and Darkness; **The Hellstrom Chronicle; *The Ra Expeditions

30. Winter Soldier (1972)

Not Rated | 96 min | Documentary, History, War

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

For three days in 1971, former US soldiers who were in Vietnam testify in Detroit about their war experiences. Nearly 30 speak, describing atrocities personally committed or witnessed, ... See full summary »

Stars: Rusty Sachs, Joe Bangert, Scott Shimabukuro, Kenneth Campbell

Votes: 833

Year: 1972 Director: Winterfilm Collective (Rusty Sachs, Barbara Kopple, Fred Aranow, Nancy Baker, Joe Bangert, Rhetta Barron, Robert Fiore, David Gillis, David Grubin, Jeff Holstein, Barbara Jarvis, Al Kaupas, Mark Lenix, Michael Lesser, Nancy Miller, Lee Osborne, Lucy Massie Phenix, Roger Phenix, Benay Rubenstein, and Michael Weil) Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: *Malcolm X; *Manson; **Marjoe; *Ape and Super-Ape (Bij de beesten af)

31. The Great American Cowboy (1973)

G | 89 min | Documentary, Sport

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

A documentary about the rivalry between veteran Larry Mahan and newcomer Phil Lyne, as the two vie for the National Finals Rodeo Championship title.

Director: Kieth Merrill | Stars: Larry Mahan, Phil Lyne, Joel McCrea

Votes: 57

Year: 1973 Director: Kieth Merrill Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *Journey to the Outer Limits; *Schlacht um Berlin (Battle of Berlin); *Walls of Fire; Bukowski

32. Hearts and Minds (1974)

R | 112 min | Documentary, War

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

An examination of the conflicting attitudes of the opponents of the Vietnam War.

Director: Peter Davis | Stars: Tin Chan, Chau Diem, Ngo Dinh Diem, John Foster Dulles

Votes: 4,546 | Gross: $0.03M

Year: 1974 Director: Peter Davis Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *Antonia: A Portrait of the Woman; *The 81st Blow; *The Wild and the Brave; *The Challenge... A Tribute to Modern Art

33. The Man Who Skied Down Everest (1975)

G | 86 min | Documentary

7.2
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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 »

Director: Bruce Nyznik | Stars: Yûichirô Miura, Douglas Rain

Votes: 337

Year: 1975 Director: Bruce Nyznik Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *The Incredible Machine; *The California Reich; Protected: The Truth About Palm Island; *The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir

34. Hollywood on Trial (1976)

Not Rated | 105 min | Documentary

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

The documentary analyzes a dark period in Hollywood's history due to the Red Scare of the 1940's and 1950's, when actors, writers and directors were persecuted and investigated by the House... See full summary »

Director: David Helpern | Stars: Walter Bernstein, Alvah Bessie, Lester Cole, Howard Da Silva

Votes: 137

Year: 1976 Director: David Helpern Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; No Nominees: **Harlan County, USA; Grey Gardens; The Memory of Justice; *Volcano: An Inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry

35. Who Are the DeBolts? [And Where Did They Get 19 Kids?] (1977)

Not Rated | 72 min | Documentary, Biography

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Dorothy and Bob DeBolt's tale of the struggles and joys involved in their 19 adopted children, many of who are physically disabled war orphans.

Director: John Korty | Stars: Kim Atwood, Marty Atwood, Mike Atwood, Mimi Atwood

Votes: 149

Year: 1977 Director: John Korty Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *High Grass Circus; Pumping Iron; *Homage to Chagall: The Colours of Life; *The Children of THeatre Street

36. Gates of Heaven (1978)

Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A documentary about a pet cemetery in California, and the people who have pets buried there.

Director: Errol Morris | Stars: Lucille Billingsley, Zella Graham, Cal Harberts, Dan Harberts

Votes: 4,536

Year: 1978 Director: Errol Morris Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: **Scared Straight!; *Mysterious Castles of Clay; *Le vent des amoureux (The Lovers' Wind); *Raoni

37. Best Boy (1979)

111 min | Documentary, Biography

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

In this documentary, the director follows the day-to-day activities of his retarded, middle-aged cousin Philly, over a three-year period.

Director: Ira Wohl | Stars: Ira Wohl, Philip Wohl, Zero Mostel, Christine O'Connor

Votes: 552

Year: 1979 Director: Ira Wohl Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: 80 Blocks from Tiffany's; *Going the Distance; *Generation on the Wind; *The War at Home

38. The Day After Trinity (1981)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary, Biography

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

Scientists and witnesses involved in the creation and testing of the first ever atomic bomb reflect on the Manhattan project and its fascinating leader, J. Robert Oppenheimer, who upon ... See full summary »

Director: Jon Else | Stars: Hans Bethe, Holm Bursom, Haakon Chevalier, Stirling Colgate

Votes: 397

Year: 1980 Director: Jon H. Else Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; No Nominees: **From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China; *The Yellow Star - The Persecution of the Jews in Europe 1933-45; *Agee; *Front Line

39. Brooklyn Bridge (1981)

TV-G | 58 min | Documentary, History

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

This documentary chronicles the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. The difficult construction process is described in interesting detail; later parts of the film interview ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Burns | Stars: Paul Roebling, Julie Harris, Arthur Miller, Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Votes: 532

Year: 1981 Director: Ken Burns Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; No Nominees: **Genocide; The Decline of Western Civilization; Vernon, Florida; *Against Wind and Tide: A Cuban Odyssey

40. The Fifth Estate (1981– )
Episode: Just Another Missing Kid (1981)

90 min | Documentary, News

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

On July 10, 1978, Eric Wilson - a 19-year from Ottawa and student at Tufts University - left home to drive to a summer college course in Colorado. When he went missing four days afterward ... See full summary »

Director: John Zaritsky | Stars: Ian Parker, Jim Conway, Raymond Hatch, Marilyn Wilson

Votes: 63

Year: 1982 Director: John Zaritsky Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *In Our Water; Burden of Dreams; *Ben's Mill; Poetry in Motion

41. First Contact (1982)

58 min | Documentary

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

This documentary presents footage of the first contact between the highland tribes of Papua New Guinea, and European explorers. In the 1930s three Australian's, Michael, Daniel and James ... See full summary »

Directors: Robin Anderson, Bob Connolly | Stars: Richard Oxenburgh, Daniel Leahy, Mick Leahy, James Taylor

Votes: 153

Year: 1983 Director: Robin Anderson and Bob Connolly Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; No Nominees: *The Profession of Arms; *Seeing Red; Chicken Ranch; Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance

42. Marlene (1984)

Unrated | 94 min | Documentary, Biography

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

Retrospective on the career of enigmatic screen diva Marlene Dietrich.

Director: Maximilian Schell | Stars: Marlene Dietrich, Maximilian Schell, Annie Albers, Bernard Hall

Votes: 620 | Gross: $0.85M

Year: 1984 Director: Maximilian Schell Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; No Nominees: **The Times of Harvey Milk; The Silent Scream; *High Schools; *Streetwise

43. Shoah (1985)

Not Rated | 566 min | Documentary, History, War

8.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
99 Metascore

Claude Lanzmann's epic documentary recounts the story of the Holocaust through interviews with witnesses - perpetrators as well as survivors.

Director: Claude Lanzmann | Stars: Simon Srebnik, Michael Podchlebnik, Motke Zaïdl, Hanna Zaïdl

Votes: 6,463 | Gross: $0.02M

Year: 1985 Director: Claude Lanzmann Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: *The Statue of Liberty; **Broken Rainbow; *The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo; *Soldiers in Hiding

44. Witness to Apartheid (1986)

58 min | Documentary

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Add a Plot

Directors: Kevin Harris, Sharon I. Sopher

Votes: 9

Year: 1986 Director: Sharon I. Sopher Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; No Nominees: **Artie Shaw: Time Is All You've Got; **Down and Out in America; *Chile: Hasta Cuando?; Huey Long

45. Yuki yukite, shingun (1987)

122 min | Documentary, War

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

A documentary following Kenzo Okuzaki, a 62-year-old WW2 veteran notorious for his protests against Emperor Hirohito, as he tries to expose the needless executions of two Japanese soldiers during the war.

Director: Kazuo Hara | Stars: Kenzo Okuzaki, Riichi Aikawa, Masaichi Hamaguchi, Toshio Hara

Votes: 1,039

Year: 1987 Director: Kazuo Hara Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: *Radio Bikini; *Eyes on the Prize; *Hellfire: A Journey from Hiroshima; **The Ten-Year Lunch

46. 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: 17,885 | Gross: $1.21M

Year: 1988 Director: Errol Morris Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: **Hotel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie; *Let's Get Lost; *Who Killed Vincent Chin?; The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years

47. 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: 3,840 | Gross: $0.77M

Year: 1989 Director: Al Reinert Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; No Nominees: Roger & Me; *Crack USA: County Under Siege; *Super Chief: The Life and Legacy of Earl Warren; *Adam Clayton Powell

48. American Dream (1990)

PG-13 | 98 min | Documentary

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Chronicles the six-month strike at Hormel in Austin, Minnesota, in 1985-86. The local union, P-9 of the Food and Commercial Workers, overwhelmingly rejects a contract offer with a $2/hour ... See full summary »

Directors: Barbara Kopple, Cathy Caplan, Thomas Haneke, Lawrence Silk | Stars: Jesse Jackson, Juan Munoz, Ray Rogers, Mike Kinney

Votes: 645 | Gross: $0.27M

Year: 1990 Director: Barbara Kopple Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: Echoes from a Somber Empire; *Building Bombs; *Waldo Salt: A Screenwriter's Journey; *Berkeley in the Sixties Special Mention: The Civil War by Ken Burns

49. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991)

R | 96 min | Documentary

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

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.

Directors: Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper, Eleanor Coppola | Stars: Dennis Hopper, Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, George Lucas

Votes: 15,323 | Gross: $1.32M

Year: 1991 Director: Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: A Brief History of Time; Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio; Sundown: The Future of Children and Drugs; *The Restless Conscience: Resistance to Hitler Within Germany 1933-1945

50. Brother's Keeper (1992)

R | 104 min | Documentary, Crime, Mystery

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

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: 3,263 | Gross: $1.31M

Year: 1992 Director: Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: *Music for the Movies: Bernard Herrmann; **The Panama Deception; *Fires of Kuwait; *Liberators: Fighting on Two Fronts in World War II

51. The War Room (1993)

PG | 96 min | Documentary, History

7.4
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A documentary of the Bill Clinton 1992 presidential campaign and the organization who ran it.

Directors: Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker | Stars: James Carville, George Stephanopoulos, Heather Beckel, Paul Begala

Votes: 3,295 | Gross: $0.90M

Year: 1993 Director: Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; No Nominees: Bells from the Deep: Faith and Superstition in Russia; **I Am Promise: The Children of Stanton Elementary School; *Children of Fate; The Last Party

52. Hoop Dreams (1994)

PG-13 | 170 min | Documentary, Drama, Sport

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

A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.

Director: Steve James | Stars: William Gates, Arthur Agee, Emma Gates, Curtis Gates

Votes: 20,862 | Gross: $7.83M

Year: 1994 Director: Steve James Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: Crumb; *D-Day Remembered; **Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision; *A Great Day in Harlem Special Mention: Baseball by Ken Burns

53. Anne Frank Remembered (1995)

PG | 117 min | Documentary, Biography, War

8.1
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Using previously unreleased archival material in addition to contemporary interviews, this academy award-winning documentary tells the story of the Frank family and presents the first ... See full summary »

Director: Jon Blair | Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Glenn Close, Janny Brandes-Brilslijper, Rose De Liema

Votes: 865 | Gross: $1.31M

Year: 1995 Directory: Jon Blair Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: Death for Five Voices; The Gate of Heavenly Peace; *Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dreams; *The Battle Over Citizen Kane

54. The Celluloid Closet (1995)

R | 102 min | Documentary, History

7.8
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A documentary surveying the various Hollywood screen depictions of homosexuals and the attitudes behind them throughout the history of North American film.

Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman | Stars: Lily Tomlin, Tony Curtis, Susie Bright, Arthur Laurents

Votes: 5,445 | Gross: $1.51M

Year: 1996 Director: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: **When We Were Kings; *Mandela; *The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story; *Tell the Truth and Run: George Seldes and the American Press

55. The Long Way Home (1997)

Not Rated | 120 min | Documentary, History, War

7.5
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The story of the post World War II Jewish refugee situation from liberation to the establishment of the modern state of Israel.

Director: Mark Jonathan Harris | Stars: Morgan Freeman, Israel Lau, Livia Shacter, Abraham Klausner

Votes: 589

Year: 1997 Director: Mark Jonathan Harris Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *4 Little Girls; *Waco: The Rules of Engagement; *Colors Straight Up; *Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life

56. The Last Days (1998)

PG-13 | 87 min | Documentary, War

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

In late 1944, even as they faced imminent defeat, the Nazis expended enormous resources to kill or deport over 425,000 Jews during the "cleansing" of Hungary. This Oscar-winning documentary... See full summary »

Director: James Moll | Stars: Bill Basch, Martin Basch, Randolph Braham, Alice Lok Cahana

Votes: 1,718 | Gross: $0.42M

Year: 1998 Director: James Moll Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *The Farm: Angola, USA; *Regret to Inform; SlamNation; *The Dancemaker

57. Buena Vista Social Club (1999)

G | 105 min | Documentary, Music

7.6
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81 Metascore

Aging Cuban musicians whose talents had been virtually forgotten following Castro's takeover of Cuba, are brought out of retirement by Ry Cooder, who travelled to Havana in order to bring the musicians together, resulting in triumphant performances of extraordinary music, and resurrecting the musicians' careers.

Director: Wim Wenders | Stars: Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Rubén González, Eliades Ochoa

Votes: 14,389 | Gross: $7.00M

Year: 1999 Director: Wim Wenders Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; No Nominees: **One Day in September; My Best Fiend (Mein liebster Fiend - Klaus Kinski); Just Watch Me: Trudeau and the '70s Generation; *Genghis Blues

58. The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1998)

PG | 90 min | Documentary, Biography, Sport

7.6
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75 Metascore

The life and career of Hank Greenberg, the first major Jewish baseball star in the Major Leagues.

Director: Aviva Kempner | Stars: Reeve Brenner, Hank Greenberg, Walter Matthau, Alan M. Dershowitz

Votes: 728 | Gross: $1.70M

Year: 2000 Director: Aviva Kempner Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: Calle 54; *Scottsboro: An American Tragedy; **Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport; *Long Night's Journey into Day

59. The Endurance (2000)

G | 97 min | Documentary, History

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

A retelling of Sir Ernest Shackleton 's ill-fated expedition to Antarctica in 1914-1916, featuring new footage of the actual locations and interviews with surviving relatives of key ... See full summary »

Director: George Butler | Stars: Liam Neeson, Julian Ayer, John Blackborow, David Cale

Votes: 1,651 | Gross: $2.45M

Year: 2001 Director: George Butler Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: *Children Underground; *Promises; **Murder on a Sunday Morning (Un coupable ideal); *War Photographer Special Mention: Jazz by Ken Burns

60. 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: 129,360 | Gross: $21.24M

Year: 2002 Director: Michael Moore and Michael Donovan Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *Spellbound; Stevie; Bus 174 (Onibus 174); *Winged Migration (Le peuple migrateur)

61. Touching the Void (2003)

R | 106 min | Documentary, Adventure, Drama

8.1
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82 Metascore

The true story of two climbers and their perilous journey up the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985.

Director: Kevin Macdonald | Stars: Simon Yates, Joe Simpson, Brendan Mackey, Nicholas Aaron

Votes: 29,220 | Gross: $4.58M

Year: 2003 Director: Kevin MacDonald Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: **The Fog of War; *My Architect: A Son's Journey; *Capturing the Friedmans; *The Weather Underground

62. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)

R | 122 min | Documentary, Drama, War

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
67 Metascore

Michael Moore's view on what happened to the United States after September 11; and how the Bush Administration allegedly used the tragic event to push forward its agenda for unjust wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Director: Michael Moore | Stars: Michael Moore, George W. Bush, Ben Affleck, Stevie Wonder

Votes: 117,950 | Gross: $119.19M

Year: 2004 Director: Michael Moore Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: **Born into Brothels; *Super Size Me; *Twist of Faith; The Agronomist

63. March of the Penguins (2005)

G | 80 min | Documentary, Family

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

In the Antarctic, every March since the beginning of time, the quest begins to find the perfect mate and start a family.

Director: Luc Jacquet | Stars: Morgan Freeman, Charles Berling, Romane Bohringer, Jules Sitruk

Votes: 50,366 | Gross: $77.44M

Year: 2005 Director: Luc Jacquet Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: Grizzly Man; *Murderball; *Enron: The Smartest Guys in to Room; *Darwin's Nightmare

64. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

PG | 96 min | Documentary

7.5
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75 Metascore

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.

Director: Davis Guggenheim | Stars: Al Gore, Billy West, George Bush, George W. Bush

Votes: 73,524 | Gross: $23.81M

Year: 2006 Director: Davis Guggenheim Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *Iraq in Fragments; *Deliver Us from Evil; *My Country, My Country; *Jesus Camp

65. 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: 12,412 | Gross: $0.27M

Year: 2007 Director: Alex Gibney and Eva Orner Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: *No End in Sight; *Sicko; Body of War; *War/Dance Special Mention: The War by Ken Burns

66. Man on Wire (2008)

PG-13 | 94 min | Documentary, Biography

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
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: 45,565 | Gross: $2.96M

Year: 2008 Director: Simon Chinn and James Marsh Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; Yes Nominees: Waltz with Bashir (Vals Im Bashir); *Encounters at the End of the World; *Trouble the Water; *The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)

67. 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: 45,778 | Gross: $4.42M

Year: 2009 Director: Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: Yes; No Nominees: **The Cove; *Burma VJ; Capitalism: A Love Story; *Which Way Home Special Mention: The National Parks: America's Best Idea by Ken Burns

68. Waiting for 'Superman' (2010)

PG | 111 min | Documentary

7.5
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81 Metascore

An examination of the current state of education in America today.

Director: Davis Guggenheim | Stars: Charles Adam, Charles Adams, Jonathan Alter, Robert Balfanz

Votes: 10,025 | Gross: $6.41M

Year: 2010 Director: Davis Guggenheim Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: Freakonomics; *Exit Through the Gift Shop; *Gasland; **Inside Job

69. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)

G | 90 min | Documentary, History

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

Werner Herzog gains exclusive access to film inside the Chauvet caves of Southern France and captures the oldest known pictorial creations of humanity.

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Werner Herzog, Jean Clottes, Julien Monney, Jean-Michel Geneste

Votes: 12,896 | Gross: $5.23M

Year: 2011 Director: Werner Herzog Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and if so, did it win?: No Nominees: The Interrupters; Project Nim; Senna; *Pina