TimeOut 50 Documentaries

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1.
Shoah (1985 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 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
 
2.
Sans Soleil (1983 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
"He wrote me...." A woman narrates the thoughts of a world traveler, meditations on time and memory... (104 mins.)
Director: Chris. Marker
 
3.
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
 
4.
Night and Fog (1956 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
The history of Nazi Germany's death camps of the Final Solution and the hellish world of dehumanization and death contained inside. (32 mins.)
Director: Alain Resnais
 
5.
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
 
6.
Dont Look Back (1967 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Documentary covering Bob Dylan's 1965 tour of England, which includes appearances by Joan Baez and Donovan. (96 mins.)
Director: D.A. Pennebaker
 
7.
The War Game (1965 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
The War Game is a fictional, worst-case-scenario docu-drama about nuclear war and its aftermath in and around a typical English city... (48 mins.)
Director: Peter Watkins
 
8.
Nanook of the North (1922 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 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.)
 
9.
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 B. Smith to confront him about the harm he did to Flint, Michigan with his massive downsizing. (91 mins.)
Director: Michael Moore
 
10.
Man with a Movie Camera (1929 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A man travels around a city with a camera slung over his shoulder, documenting urban life with dazzling invention. (68 mins.)
Director: Dziga Vertov
 
11.
Salesman (1969 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Four relentless door-to-door salesmen deal with constant rejection, homesickness and inevitable burnout as they go across the country selling very expensive bibles to low-income Catholic families. (85 mins.)
 
12.
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
 
13.
Triumph of the Will (1935 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
The infamous propaganda film of the 1934 Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg, Germany. (114 mins.)
 
14.
Hearts and Minds (1974 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
An examination of the conflicting attitudes of the opponents of the Vietnam War. (112 mins.)
Director: Peter Davis
 
15.
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
 
16.
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.)
 
17.
Stop Making Sense (1984 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
An innovative concert movie for the rock group The Talking Heads. (88 mins.)
Director: Jonathan Demme
 
18.
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.)
 
19.
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
 
20.
Lake of Fire (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A graphic documentary on both sides of the abortion debate. (152 mins.)
Director: Tony Kaye
 
21.
Gimme Shelter (1970 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A harrowing documentary of the Stones' 1969 tour, with much of the focus on the tragic concert at Altamont. (91 mins.)
 
22.
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
 
23.
Hitler: A Film from Germany (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Director Hans-Jurgen Syberberg examines the rise and fall of the Third Reich in this brooding seven-hour masterpiece... (442 mins.)
 
24.
High School (1969 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman takes us inside Northeast High School as a fly on the wall to observe the teachers and how they interact with the students. (75 mins.)
 
25.
Empire (1964 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.9/10 X  
A single shot of the Empire State Building from early evening until nearly 3 am the next day. (485 mins.)
Director: Andy Warhol
 
26.
In the Year of the Pig (1968 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Produced at the height of the Vietnam War, Emile de Antonio's Oscar-nominated 1968 documentary chronicles the war's historical roots... (103 mins.)
 
27.
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
 
28.
The Arrival of a Train (1896 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A group of people are standing in a straight line along the platform of a railway station, waiting for a train... (1 mins.)
 
29.
The Gleaners & I (2000 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
An intimate, picaresque inquiry into French life as lived by the country's poor and its provident, as well as by the film's own director... (82 mins.)
Director: Agnès Varda
 
30.
Capturing the Friedmans (2003 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes. (107 mins.)
Director: Andrew Jarecki
 
31.
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, live their eccentric lives in a filthy, decaying mansion in East Hampton. (94 mins.)
 
32.
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.)
 
33.
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A documentary crew followed Metallica for the better part of 2001-2003, a time of tension and release for the rock band, as they recorded their album St. Anger, fought bitterly, and sought the counsel of their on-call shrink. (141 mins.)
 
34.
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
 
35.
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
 
36.
Sherman's March (1985 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Ross McElwee sets out to make a documentary about the lingering effects of General Sherman's march of... (157 mins.)
Director: Ross McElwee
 
37.
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
 
38.
Burden of Dreams (1982 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A documentary on the chaotic production of Werner Herzog's epic Fitzcarraldo, showing how the film... (95 mins.)
Director: Les Blank
 
39.
Point of Order! (1964 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Point of Order is compiled from TV footage of the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings, in which the Army accused... (97 mins.)
 
40.
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
 
41.
Man on Wire (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
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". (94 mins.)
Director: James Marsh
 
42.
Monterey Pop (1968 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A film about the greatest pre-Woodstock rock music festival. (78 mins.)
Director: D.A. Pennebaker
 
43.
The Battle of Chile: Part I (1975 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
The chronicle of the political tension in Chile in 1973 and of the violent counter revolution against the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. (97 mins.)
 
44.
F for Fake (1973 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A documentary about fraud and fakery. (89 mins.)
Director: Orson Welles
 
45.
Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A visual meditation on the progressive history of the United States as seen through cemeteries, historic plaques and markers. Inspired by Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States". (58 mins.)
Director: John Gianvito
 
46.
A Grin Without A Cat (1977 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
French essay film focusing on global political turmoil in the 1960s and '70s, particularly the rise of the New Left in France and the development of socialist movements in Latin America. (240 mins.)
Director: Chris. Marker
 
47.
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
 
48.
An Inconvenient Truth (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
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. (96 mins.)
 
49.
The Last Waltz (1978 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A film account and presentation of the final concert of The Band. (117 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
 
50.
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
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. (122 mins.)
Director: Michael Moore