Best Documentaries

by wholedacdc | created - 02 Dec 2011 | updated - 06 Dec 2011 | Public

in no particular order

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1. 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: 21,020 | Gross: $7.83M

2. 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: 32,204 | Gross: $0.68M

3. Grizzly Man (2005)

R | 103 min | Documentary, Biography

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
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: 45,510 | Gross: $3.17M

4. The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia (2009)

TV-MA | 86 min | Documentary

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

A year in the life of the White family, well known for Jesco White, the star of the "Dancing Outlaw" documentary.

Director: Julien Nitzberg | Stars: J. Parker Bazzle II, Big & Rich, Ponty's Camper, Derek Wayne Castle

Votes: 3,103

5. The Botany of Desire (2009 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 120 min | Documentary

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

Michael Pollan, a professor of journalism and a student of food, presents the history of four plants, each of which found a way to make itself essential to humans, thus ensuring widespread ... See full summary »

Directors: Michael Schwarz, Edward Gray | Stars: Frances McDormand, Michael Pollan

Votes: 446

6. The Aristocrats (2005)

Unrated | 89 min | Documentary, Comedy

6.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
72 Metascore

One hundred superstar comedians tell the same very, VERY dirty, filthy joke--one shared privately by comics since Vaudeville.

Director: Paul Provenza | Stars: George Carlin, Don Rickles, Chris Rock, Chris Albrecht

Votes: 15,386 | Gross: $6.38M

7. 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: 55,692 | Gross: $3.29M

8. The Beatles Anthology (1995– )

600 min | Documentary, Music

9.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.4/10 X  

An autobiographical documentary of the greatest of the rock bands.

Stars: Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, George Martin

Votes: 4,639

9. Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (2008)

R | 120 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

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

A portrait of the late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

Director: Alex Gibney | Stars: Hunter S. Thompson, Johnny Depp, Joe Cairo, David Carlo

Votes: 6,887 | Gross: $1.25M

10. 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: 26,027

11. American Masters (1985– )
Episode: No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005)

Not Rated | 359 min | Documentary, Biography

8.5
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A chronicle of Bob Dylan's strange evolution between 1961 and 1966 from folk singer to protest singer to "voice of a generation" to rock star.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Bob Dylan, B.J. Rolfzen, Dick Kangas, Liam Clancy

Votes: 10,278

12. Planet Earth (2006)

TV-G | 533 min | Documentary

9.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.4/10 X  

Emmy Award-winning, 11 episodes, five years in the making, the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC, and the first to be filmed in high definition.

Stars: David Attenborough, Sigourney Weaver, Huw Cordey, Doug Allan

Votes: 128,314

13. Microcosmos (1996)

G | 80 min | Documentary

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

A documentary on insect life in meadows and ponds.

Directors: Claude Nuridsany, Marie Pérennou | Stars: Kristin Scott Thomas, Jacques Perrin

Votes: 9,791 | Gross: $1.57M

14. 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: 9,100 | Gross: $0.25M

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

R | 96 min | Documentary

8.2
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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: 15,446 | Gross: $1.32M

16. This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)

Unrated | 98 min | Documentary

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

Kirby Dick's exposé about the American movie ratings board.

Director: Kirby Dick | Stars: Kirby Dick, Kimberly Peirce, Darren Aronofsky, Atom Egoyan

Votes: 26,176 | Gross: $0.30M

17. 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: 91,583 | Gross: $11.53M

18. 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: 46,001 | Gross: $2.96M

19. Jesus Camp (2006)

PG-13 | 87 min | Documentary

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

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

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

Votes: 24,354 | Gross: $0.90M

20. 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: 129,754 | Gross: $21.24M

21. 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: 13,744 | Gross: $50.00M

22. Dont Look Back (1967)

Not Rated | 96 min | Documentary, Music

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Documentary covering Bob Dylan's 1965 tour of England, which includes appearances by Joan Baez and Donovan.

Director: D.A. Pennebaker | Stars: Bob Dylan, Albert Grossman, Bob Neuwirth, Joan Baez

Votes: 6,955

23. Sicko (2007)

PG-13 | 123 min | Documentary, Drama

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

A documentary comparing the highly profitable American health care industry to other nations, and HMO horror stories including shotgun deaths.

Director: Michael Moore | Stars: Michael Moore, Tucker Albrizzi, Tony Benn, George W. Bush

Votes: 69,721 | Gross: $24.54M

24. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

PG | 96 min | Documentary

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
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: 73,908 | Gross: $23.81M

25. 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: 18,095 | Gross: $1.21M

26. The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)

PG-13 | 110 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

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

Daniel Johnston, manic-depressive genius singer/songwriter/artist is revealed in this portrait of madness, creativity and love.

Director: Jeff Feuerzeig | Stars: Daniel Johnston, Mabel Johnston, Bill Johnston, Laurie Allen

Votes: 7,903 | Gross: $0.33M

27. Shark Week (1987– )

43 min | Documentary

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

Documentary following sharks and shark attacks.

Stars: Devon Massyn, Andy Casagrande, Amy Kukulya, Ylian Alfaro Snyder

Votes: 172

28. National Geographic Explorer (1985– )
Episode: Inside North Korea (2007)

Documentary, History

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

Posing as a medical coordinator, Lisa Ling gains access to North Korea offering viewers a chance to see inside the "Hermit Kingdom".

Director: Peter Yost | Stars: Michael Breen, Brian Green, Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-il

Votes: 253

29. 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: 43,213 | Gross: $0.86M

30. It Might Get Loud (2008)

PG | 98 min | Documentary, Music

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

A documentary on the electric guitar from the point of view of three significant rock musicians: the Edge, Jimmy Page and Jack White.

Director: Davis Guggenheim | Stars: Jimmy Page, The Edge, Jack White, Link Wray

Votes: 11,292 | Gross: $1.61M

31. George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011)

Not Rated | 208 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

8.1
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Filmmaker Martin Scorsese examines the life of musician George Harrison, weaving together interviews, concert footage, home movies and photographs.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: George Harrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr

Votes: 8,090

32. Night and Fog (1956)

Not Rated | 32 min | Documentary, Short, History

8.6
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The history of Nazi Germany's death camps of the Final Solution and the hellish world of dehumanization and death contained inside.

Director: Alain Resnais | Stars: Michel Bouquet, Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Hitler

Votes: 14,308

33. Roger & Me (1989)

R | 91 min | Documentary

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

Director Michael Moore pursues GM CEO Roger B. Smith to confront him about the harm he did to Flint, Michigan with his massive downsizing.

Director: Michael Moore | Stars: Michael Moore, Roger B. Smith, Rhonda Britton, Fred Ross

Votes: 23,960 | Gross: $6.71M

34. Murderball (2005)

R | 88 min | Documentary, Sport

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

Quadriplegics, who play full-contact rugby in wheelchairs, overcome unimaginable obstacles to compete in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.

Directors: Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro | Stars: Joe Soares, Keith Cavill, Mark Zupan, Joe Bishop

Votes: 9,342 | Gross: $1.52M

35. Helvetica (2007)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary

7.2
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A documentary about typography, graphic design, and global visual culture.

Director: Gary Hustwit | Stars: Manfred Schulz, Massimo Vignelli, Rick Poynor, Wim Crouwel

Votes: 6,686 | Gross: $0.20M

36. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (2002)

Unrated | 92 min | Documentary, Music

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

First-time filmmaker and award-winning photographer Sam Jones documents the recording of Wilco's album, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot."

Director: Sam Jones | Stars: Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Leroy Bach, Glenn Kotche

Votes: 1,837 | Gross: $0.45M