What's Up Docs

Some great documentaries. All-Time. Alphabetically (except for the 7 Up Series which is chronological).
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1.
The Atomic Cafe (1982 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
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. (86 mins.)
 
2.
Babies (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A look at one year in the life of four babies from around the world, from Mongolia to Namibia to San Francisco to Tokyo. (79 mins.)
Director: Thomas Balmès
 
3.
The Beatles Anthology (1995 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.4/10 X  
An autobiographical documentary of the greatest of the rock bands. (600 mins.)
 
4.
Bobby Fischer Against the World (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
'Bobby Fischer Against the World' is a documentary feature exploring the tragic and bizarre life of the late chess master Bobby Fischer... (93 mins.)
Director: Liz Garbus
 
5.
Bowling for Columbine (2002 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Filmmaker Michael Moore explores the roots of America's predilection for gun violence. (120 mins.)
Director: Michael Moore
 
6.
A Brief History of Time (1991 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
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. (80 mins.)
Director: Errol Morris
 
7.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Werner Herzog gains exclusive access to film inside the Chauvet caves of Southern France and captures the oldest known pictorial creations of humanity. (90 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
 
8.
The Corporation (2003 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Documentary that looks at the concept of the corporation throughout recent history up to its present-day dominance. (145 mins.)
 
9.
The Civil War (1990 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.4/10 X  
A comprehensive survey of the American Civil War. (680 mins.)
 
10.
Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1963 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Governor George Wallace will not let two black students into an Alabama school, against the wishes of President Kennedy. Loud shouts come from both sides of the issue as JFK stands by his decisions. (52 mins.)
 
11.
Crumb (1994 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
An intimate portrait of the controversial cartoonist and his traumatized family. (119 mins.)
Director: Terry Zwigoff
 
12.
Darwin's Nightmare (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A documentary on the effect of fishing the Nile perch in Tanzania's Lake Victoria. The predatory fish, which has wiped out the native species, is sold in European supermarkets, while starving Tanzanian families have to make do with the leftovers. (107 mins.)
Director: Hubert Sauper
 
13.
A Decade Under the Influence (2003 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A documentary examining the decade of the 1970s as a turning point in American cinema. Some of today's best filmmakers interview the influential directors of that time. (138 mins.)
 
14.
Earth (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Feature-length version of the documentary TV series Planet Earth, following the migration paths of four animal families. (90 mins.)
 
15.
Encounters at the End of the World (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Film-maker Werner Herzog travels to the McMurdo Station in Antarctica, looking to capture the continent's beauty and investigate the characters living there. (99 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
 
16.
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A documentary about the Enron corporation, its faulty and corrupt business practices, and how they led to its fall. (110 mins.)
Director: Alex Gibney
 
17.
500 Nations (1995 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
An exploration of the various Native American nations and their fall to the European conquerors.
 
18.
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
The story of America as seen through the eyes of the former Secretary of Defense under President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara. (107 mins.)
Director: Errol Morris
 
19.
Food, Inc. (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
An unflattering look inside America's corporate controlled food industry. (94 mins.)
Director: Robert Kenner
 
20.
GasLand (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
An exploration of the fracking petroleum extraction industry and the serious environmental consequences involved. (107 mins.)
Director: Josh Fox
 
21.
Grey Gardens (1975 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
An old mother and her middle-aged daughter, the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, live their eccentric lives in a filthy, decaying mansion in East Hampton. (94 mins.)
 
22.
Grizzly Man (2005 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
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. (103 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
 
23.
Harlan County U.S.A. (1976 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A filmed account of a bitterly violent miner strike. (103 mins.)
Director: Barbara Kopple
 
24.
Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Documentary that chronicles how Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now was plagued by extraordinary script, shooting, budget, and casting problems--nearly destroying the life and career of the celebrated director. (96 mins.)
 
25.
Hoop Dreams (1994 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional. (170 mins.)
Director: Steve James
 
26.
Human Planet (2011 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.1/10 X  
Like all life forms, humanity partially adapts to types of natural environment, yet also tends to change them... (50 mins.)
Stars: John Hurt
 
27.
An Inconvenient Truth (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Director Davis Guggenheim eloquently weaves the science of global warming with Al Gore's personal history and lifelong commitment to reversing the effects of global climate change in the most talked-about documentary at Sundance. (96 mins.)
 
28.
Inside Job (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Takes a closer look at what brought about the financial meltdown. (105 mins.)
 
29.
The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Documentary about legendary Paramount producer Robert Evans (the film shares the same name as Evans's famous 1994 autobiography). (93 mins.)
 
30.
Kon-Tiki (1950 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A documentary about the Kon-Tiki expedition of the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl. (77 mins.)
Director: Thor Heyerdahl
 
31.
Koyaanisqatsi (1982 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A collection of expertly photographed phenomena with no conventional plot. The footage focuses on nature, humanity and the relationship between them. (86 mins.)
Director: Godfrey Reggio
 
32.
Life in a Day (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A documentary shot by film-makers all over the world that serves as a time capsule to show future generations what it was like to be alive on the twenty-fourth of July, 2010. (95 mins.)
 
33.
Man of Aran (1934 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
In this blend of documentary and fictional narrative from pioneering filmmaker Robert Flaherty, the everyday trials of life on Ireland's unforgiving Aran Islands are captured with attention to naturalistic beauty and historical detail. (76 mins.)
 
34.
March of the Penguins (2005 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
In the Antarctic, every March since the beginning of time, the quest begins to find the perfect mate and start a family. (80 mins.)
Director: Luc Jacquet
 
35.
Microcosmos (1996 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A documentary on insect life in meadows and ponds. (80 mins.)
 
36.
Mondo cane (1962 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A "shockumentary" consisting of a collection of mostly real archive footage displaying mankind at its most depraved and perverse, displaying bizarre rites, cruel behavior and bestial violence. (108 mins.)
 
37.
Murderball (2005 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Quadriplegics, who play full-contact rugby in wheelchairs, overcome unimaginable obstacles to compete in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece. (88 mins.)
 
38.
Nanook of the North (1922 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
In this silent predecessor to the modern documentary, film-maker Robert J. Flaherty spends one year following the lives of Nanook and his family, Inuits living in the Arctic Circle. (78 mins.)
 
39.
No End in Sight (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A comprehensive look at the Bush Administration's conduct of the Iraq war and its occupation of the country. (102 mins.)
 
40.
Paper Clips (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
As a part of their study of the Holocaust, the children of the Whitwell, TN Middle School try to collect 6 million paper clips representing the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis. (82 mins.)
 
41.
A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
Martin Scorsese describes his initial and growing obsession with films from the 1940s and 50s as the art form developed and grew with clips from classics and cult classics. (225 mins.)
 
42.
Planet Earth (2006 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.5/10 X  
Emmy Award-winning, 11 episodes, 5 years in the making, the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC, and the first to be filmed in high definition. (48 mins.)
 
43.
Powaqqatsi (1988 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
An exploration of technologically developing nations and the effect the transition to Western-style modernization has had on them. (99 mins.)
Director: Godfrey Reggio
 
44.
Primary (1960 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Cinema verite feature that follows presidential hopefuls John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey during the 1960 Wisconsin primary (60 mins.)
Director: Robert Drew
 
45.
Restrepo (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A year with one platoon in the deadliest valley in Afghanistan. (93 mins.)
 
46.
Roger & Me (1989 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Director Michael Moore pursues GM CEO Roger Smith to confront him about the harm he did to Flint, Michigan with his massive downsizing. (91 mins.)
Director: Michael Moore
 
47.
Scared Straight! (1978 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The filmed depiction of a program where convicts tell troubled kids about the horrors of prison life. (96 mins.)
Director: Arnold Shapiro
 
48.
Seven Up! (1964 Documentary)
    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... (39 mins.)
Director: Paul Almond
 
49.
7 Plus Seven (1970 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Director Michael Apted revisits the same group of British-born children after a seven-year wait. The... (52 mins.)
Director: Michael Apted
 
50.
21 Up (1977 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Director Michael Apted revisits the same group of British-born adults after a seven-year wait. The... (100 mins.)
Director: Michael Apted
 
51.
28 Up (1984 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Director Michael Apted revisits the same group of British-born adults after a 7 year wait. The subjects... (136 mins.)
Director: Michael Apted
 
52.
35 Up (1991 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Director Michael Apted revisits the same group of British-born adults after a 7 year wait. The subjects... (123 mins.)
Director: Michael Apted
 
53.
42 Up (1998 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Director Michael Apted revisits the same group of British-born adults after a 7 year wait. The subjects are interviewed as to the changes that have occurred in their lives during the last seven years. (139 mins.)
Director: Michael Apted
 
54.
49 Up (2005 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
In 1964, to explore the adage "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man," World in Action filmed seven-year-olds... (180 mins.)
 
55.
56 Up (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Director Michael Apted revisits the same group of British-born adults after a 7 year wait. The subjects are interviewed as to the changes that have occurred in their lives during the last seven years. (144 mins.)
 
56.
Shoah (1985 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Claude Lanzmann's epic documentary recounts the story of the Holocaust through interviews with witnesses - perpetrators as well as survivors. (566 mins.)
Director: Claude Lanzmann
 
57.
Sicko (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A documentary comparing the highly profitable American health care industry to other nations, and HMO horror stories including shotgun deaths. (123 mins.)
Director: Michael Moore
 
58.
The Silent World (1956 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
This pioneering nature documentary investigates aquatic habitats in various locations around the world... (86 mins.)
 
59.
The Sorrow and the Pity (1969 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
From 1940 to 1944, France's Vichy government collaborated with Nazi Germany. Marcel Ophüls mixes archival... (251 mins.)
Director: Marcel Ophüls
 
60.
Spellbound (2002 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Spellbound follows eight teenagers on their quest to win the 1999 National Spelling Bee. (97 mins.)
Director: Jeffrey Blitz
 
61.
Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (2001 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The career and life of Stanley Kubrick is explored through pictures, clips from his films, his old home movies, comments from his colleagues and a narration by Tom Cruise. (142 mins.)
Director: Jan Harlan
 
62.
Super Size Me (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
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. (100 mins.)
Director: Morgan Spurlock
 
63.
The Thin Blue Line (1988 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas. (103 mins.)
Director: Errol Morris
 
64.
The Times of Harvey Milk (1984 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A documentary of the successful career and assassination of San Francisco's first elected gay councilor. (90 mins.)
Director: Robert Epstein
 
65.
This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Kirby Dick's exposé about the American movie ratings board. (98 mins.)
Director: Kirby Dick
 
66.
Titicut Follies (1967 Documentary)
    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. (84 mins.)
 
67.
Waiting for 'Superman' (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim reminds us that education "statistics" have names: Anthony, Francisco, Bianca... (111 mins.)
 
68.
The War (2007 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.1/10 X  
A seven-part series focusing on the many ways in which the Second World War impacted the lives of American families. (124 mins.)
 
69.
The War Room (1993 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A documentary of the Bill Clinton 1992 presidential campaign and the organization who ran it. (96 mins.)
 
70.
When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
An examination of the U.S. government's role and its response to Hurricane Katrina. (255 mins.)
 
71.
When We Were Kings (1996 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A documentary of the 1974 heavyweight championship bout in Zaire, "The Rumble in the Jungle," between champion George Foreman and underdog challenger Muhammad Ali. (88 mins.)
Director: Leon Gast
 
72.
White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
As global tensions rise, the unthinkable threat of nuclear war has become very real--and very frightening... (86 mins.)
Director: Steven Okazaki
 
73.
Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
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. (92 mins.)
Director: Chris Paine
 
74.
Winged Migration (2001 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Documentary on the migratory patterns of birds, shot over the course of three years on all seven continents. (98 mins.)
 
75.
Woodstock (1970 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
The film chronicle of the legendary 1969 music festival. (184 mins.)
 
76.
Woody Allen: A Documentary (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Iconic writer, director, actor, comedian and musician Woody Allen allowed his life and creative... (195 mins.)
Director: Robert B. Weide
 
77.
Young@Heart (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A documentary on a chorus of senior citizens from Massachusetts who cover songs by Jimi Hendrix, Coldplay, Sonic Youth, and other unexpected musicians. (107 mins.)