Top 100 Documentaries Of All Time

by rivetbadtz | created - 10 Jun 2011 | updated - 10 Jun 2011 | Public

A list of 50 documentaries that either blew me or away or I found completely engrossing

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1. Jupiter's Wife (1995)

Not Rated | 87 min | Documentary, Biography, Mystery

Michel Negroponte, a documentary filmmaker, meets Maggie one day in Central Park. Maggie claims to be married to the god Jupiter and the daughter of actor Robert Ryan. Michel gets to know ... See full summary »

Director: Michel Negroponte | Stars: Maggie Cogan, Katina Pendleton

Votes: 220

2. RFK Must Die: The Assassination of Bobby Kennedy (2007)

139 min | Documentary

A new investigative documentary exploring the controversies surrounding the assassination of Bobby Kennedy on June 5, 1968 as he looked set to challenge Nixon for the White House. Munir ... See full summary »

Director: Shane O'Sullivan | Stars: Bradley Ayers, William A. Bailey, H. Rap Brown, Frank Burns

Votes: 247

3. The Thin Blue Line (1988)

Not Rated | 101 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama

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: 18,470 | Gross: $1.21M

4. Koyaanisqatsi (1982)

Not Rated | 86 min | Documentary, Music

A collection of expertly photographed phenomena with no conventional plot. The footage focuses on nature, humanity and the relationship between them.

Director: Godfrey Reggio | Stars: Lou Dobbs, Ted Koppel

Votes: 29,952 | Gross: $1.72M

5. The Cruise (1998)

PG-13 | 76 min | Documentary

69 Metascore

Affectionate portrait of Tim "Speed" Levitch, a tour guide for Manhattan's Gray Line double-decker buses. He talks fast, is in love with the city, and dispenses historical facts, ... See full summary »

Director: Bennett Miller | Star: Timothy 'Speed' Levitch

Votes: 1,471 | Gross: $0.24M

6. We Live in Public (2009)

Unrated | 91 min | Documentary

69 Metascore

A documentary focusing on the life of dot-com entrepreneur Josh Harris, and his exploits over the last decade.

Director: Ondi Timoner | Stars: Josh Harris, Tom Harris, Carlos Alvarez, David Amron

Votes: 1,651 | Gross: $0.04M

7. Biggie and Tupac (2002)

R | 108 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

63 Metascore

Documentary on the deaths of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls and the East Coast/West Coast, hip-hop/rap rivalry that culminated in late 1996 and early 1997.

Director: Nick Broomfield | Stars: The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Nick Broomfield, Russell Poole

Votes: 3,960 | Gross: $0.09M

8. The Coconut Revolution (2000 TV Movie)

50 min | Documentary

This is the modern-day story of a native peoples' remarkable victory over Western Colonial power. A Pacific island rose up in arms against giant mining corporation Rio Tinto Zinc (RTZ) - and won despite a military occupation and blockade.

Director: Dom Rotheroe | Stars: Joseph Kabui, Francis Ona

Votes: 156

9. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

R | 87 min | Documentary, Comedy, Crime

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: 56,386 | Gross: $3.29M

10. 9/11: The Falling Man (2006 TV Movie)

PG-13 | 80 min | Documentary

The Falling Man is a documentary that examines one of the many images that were circulated by the press immediately after the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. The ... See full summary »

Director: Henry Singer | Stars: Steven Mackintosh, Iliana Guibert

Votes: 1,057

11. Man on Wire (2008)

PG-13 | 94 min | Documentary, Biography

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: 46,755 | Gross: $2.96M

12. Hoop Dreams (1994)

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

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: 21,268 | Gross: $7.83M

13. The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear (2004)

157 min | Documentary, History

78 Metascore

A series of three documentaries about the use of fear for political gain.

Stars: Gilles Kepel, Melvin Goodman, Stephen Holmes, William Kristol

Votes: 3,532

14. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)

Not Rated | 110 min | Documentary

A documentary about the Enron corporation, its faulty and corrupt business practices, and how they led to its fall.

Director: Alex Gibney | Stars: John Beard, Tim Belden, Barbara Boxer, George W. Bush

Votes: 14,389

15. The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003)

PG-13 | 107 min | Documentary, Biography, History

87 Metascore

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.

Director: Errol Morris | Stars: Robert McNamara, John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro, Richard Nixon

Votes: 20,786 | Gross: $4.19M

16. The Filth and the Fury (2000)

R | 108 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

82 Metascore

A film about the career of the notorious punk rock band, the Sex Pistols.

Director: Julien Temple | Stars: Paul Cook, Steve Jones, John Lydon, Glen Matlock

Votes: 5,181 | Gross: $0.61M

17. Capturing the Friedmans (2003)

Not Rated | 107 min | Documentary, Biography

90 Metascore

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.

Director: Andrew Jarecki | Stars: Arnold Friedman, Jesse Friedman, David Friedman, Elaine Friedman

Votes: 21,218 | Gross: $3.12M

18. Tarnation (2003)

Unrated | 88 min | Documentary, Biography

87 Metascore

Filmmaker Jonathan Caouette's documentary on growing up with his schizophrenic mother -- a mixture of snapshots, Super-8, answering machine messages, video diaries, early short films, and more -- culled from 19 years of his life.

Director: Jonathan Caouette | Stars: Jonathan Caouette, Renee Leblanc, Adolph Davis, Rosemary Davis

Votes: 5,962 | Gross: $0.59M

19. All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (2011– )

60 min | Documentary

A series of films about how humans have been colonized by the machines we have built. Although we don't realize it, the way we see everything in the world today is through the eyes of the computers.

Stars: Adam Curtis, Stewart Brand, Peder Anker, Tord Björk

Votes: 1,263

20. Press for Truth (2006)

Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary

The story and truth about 9/11

Director: Ray Nowosielski | Stars: Kristen Breitweiser, George W. Bush, Patty Casazza, Dick Cheney

Votes: 519

21. The Rock-afire Explosion (2008)

Not Rated | 72 min | Documentary

A cult fan favorite documentary which explores the rise and fall of Showbiz Pizza Place, it's animatronic rock band, and the origins of Chuck E. Cheese's.

Director: Brett Whitcomb | Stars: Chris Thrash, Aaron Fechter, Travis Schafer, Mike Scherpenberg

Votes: 344

22. William S. Burroughs: A Man Within (2010)

Not Rated | 87 min | Documentary

63 Metascore

William S. Burroughs: featuring never before seen footage as well as exclusive interviews with his closest friends and colleagues. Born the heir of the Burroughs' adding machine estate, he ... See full summary »

Director: Yony Leyser | Stars: Fred Aldrich, Laurie Anderson, Amiri Baraka, Jello Biafra

Votes: 942 | Gross: $0.05M

23. Crumb (1994)

R | 119 min | Documentary, Biography, Comedy

93 Metascore

An intimate portrait of the controversial cartoonist and his traumatized family.

Director: Terry Zwigoff | Stars: Robert Crumb, Aline Kominsky, Charles Crumb, Maxon Crumb

Votes: 15,799 | Gross: $3.17M

24. Lake of Fire (2006)

Unrated | 152 min | Documentary

83 Metascore

A graphic documentary on both sides of the abortion debate.

Director: Tony Kaye | Stars: Noam Chomsky, Bill Baird, Flip Benham, Dallas Blanchard

Votes: 2,286 | Gross: $0.02M

25. Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? (2006)

PG-13 | 74 min | Documentary

70 Metascore

In this documentary, veteran filmmaker Harry Moses exposes the controversy in the world of high priced artwork. He paints a vivid picture of how art is bought and sold in America.

Director: Harry Morgan Moses | Stars: Teri Horton, Tod M. Volpe, Ben Heller, Nick Carone

Votes: 1,096 | Gross: $0.01M

26. I Think We're Alone Now (2008)

Not Rated | 70 min | Documentary

Two individuals, Jeff and Kelly, claim to be in love with the 80's pop singer Tiffany.

Director: Sean Donnelly | Stars: Kelly McCormick, Tiffany, Jeff Turner

Votes: 1,141

27. Winnebago Man (2009)

85 min | Documentary, Biography, Comedy

71 Metascore

Jack Rebney is the most famous man you've never heard of - after cursing his way through a Winnebago sales video, Rebney's outrageously funny outtakes became an underground sensation and ... See full summary »

Director: Ben Steinbauer | Stars: Jack Rebney, Ben Steinbauer, Keith Gordon, Nick Prueher

Votes: 4,267 | Gross: $0.18M

28. New World Order (2009)

83 min | Documentary

32 Metascore

This documentary explores the activities of Alex Jones, Jim Tucker, Jack McLamb, and Luke Rudkowski. The film focuses on their efforts to expose the highly secretive meetings of the ... See full summary »

Directors: Luke Meyer, Andrew Neel | Stars: Alex Jones, Luke Rudowski, Jack McLamb, Jim Tucker

Votes: 615

29. Incident at Oglala (1992)

PG | 89 min | Documentary, History

This film describes the events surrounding a 1975 shootout at the Pine Ridge reservation in S. Dakota where two FBI agents were killed.

Director: Michael Apted | Stars: Robert Redford, Norman Zigrossi, Robert Sikma, Darelle 'Dino' Butler

Votes: 955 | Gross: $0.54M

30. Shoah (1985)

Not Rated | 566 min | Documentary, History, War

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: 6,955 | Gross: $0.02M

31. Pretty as a Picture: The Art of David Lynch (1997 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary, Biography

From an early age, David Lynch was inspired by the arts and the warm inner glow that comes with the pursuit of creative expression. "Pretty as a Picture:The Art of David Lynch" examines how... See full summary »

Director: Toby Keeler | Stars: Patricia Arquette, Angelo Badalamenti, Robert Blake, Mel Brooks

Votes: 691

32. Confessions of a Superhero (2007)

R | 92 min | Documentary

Chronicles the lives of four mortal men and women who work as characters on the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard.

Director: Matthew Ogens | Stars: Christopher Dennis, Maxwell Allen, Jennifer Wenger, Joe McQueen

Votes: 2,025

33. Marwencol (2010)

Not Rated | 83 min | Documentary, Biography, Fantasy

83 Metascore

After a vicious attacks leaves him brain-damaged and broke, Mark Hogancamp seeks recovery in "Marwencol", a 1/6th scale World War II-era town he creates in his backyard.

Director: Jeff Malmberg | Stars: Mark Hogancamp, Emmanuel Nneji, Edda Hogancamp, Tom Neubauer

Votes: 2,659 | Gross: $0.11M

35. The Corporation (2003)

Not Rated | 145 min | Documentary, History

73 Metascore

Documentary that looks at the concept of the corporation throughout recent history up to its present-day dominance.

Directors: Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott | Stars: Mikela Jay, Rob Beckwermert, Christopher Gora, Nina Jones

Votes: 19,160 | Gross: $1.88M

36. Darwin's Nightmare (2004)

107 min | Documentary

84 Metascore

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.

Director: Hubert Sauper | Stars: Elizabeth 'Eliza' Maganga Nsese, Raphael Tukiko Wagara, Dimond Remtulia, Marcus Nyoni

Votes: 5,081 | Gross: $0.20M

37. Home of the Brave (2004)

Not Rated | 75 min | Documentary

77 Metascore

Documentary on the civil rights activist, Viola Liuzzo, who was murdered in 1965 as she campaigned for black suffrage in Selma, Alabama, and its effect on her family.

Director: Paola di Florio | Stars: Julie Stevens, Stockard Channing, Molly Howe, Viola Gregg Liuzzo

Votes: 117 | Gross: $0.00M

38. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2000)

PG-13 | 79 min | Documentary, Biography

69 Metascore

A documentary look, mostly through the eyes of Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, at her rise and fall as a popular televangelist with husband Jim Bakker. Traces their rise: her teen marriage to ... See full summary »

Directors: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato | Stars: RuPaul, Tammy Faye Bakker, Virginia Fairchild, Johnny Grover

Votes: 1,402 | Gross: $1.03M

39. Dark Days (2000)

Not Rated | 82 min | Documentary

75 Metascore

A cinematic portrait of the homeless population who live permanently in the underground tunnels of New York City.

Director: Marc Singer | Star: Marc Singer

Votes: 5,883 | Gross: $0.43M

40. My Flesh and Blood (2003)

Unrated | 83 min | Documentary

78 Metascore

Documentary following Susan Tom of Fairfield, California and her 11 adopted special needs children.

Director: Jonathan Karsh | Stars: Susan Tom, Anthony Tom, Faith Tom, Joe Tom

Votes: 1,638

41. The Jew in the Lotus (1998)

58 min | Documentary

Tells how Roger Kamenetz, author of the best-selling 1994 book by the same title, found his way back to Judaism - the tradition of his birth.

Director: Laurel Chiten | Star: Rodger Kamenetz

Votes: 27

42. Flicker (2008)

Not Rated | 75 min | Documentary

Artist Brion Gysin developed the Dream Machine. The device has in its core a 100-watt light bulb, which is surrounded by a spinning open column with windows to allow the light to shine ... See full summary »

Director: Nik Sheehan | Stars: Brion Gysin, Kenneth Anger, Marcus Boon, Udo Breger

Votes: 108

43. Modulations (1998)

75 min | Documentary, Music

The evolution of electronic music and its many genres. How the wide range of styles and scenes formed through experimentations on sound formation.

Director: Iara Lee | Stars: Arthur Baker, Afrika Bambaataa, Carl Cox, David Kristian

Votes: 326 | Gross: $0.14M

44. Enemies of the People (2009)

Not Rated | 93 min | Documentary

The Khmer Rouge slaughtered nearly two million people in the late 1970s. Yet the Killing Fields of Cambodia remain unexplained. Until now. Enter Thet Sambath, an unassuming, yet cunning, ... See full summary »

Directors: Rob Lemkin, Thet Sambath | Stars: Thet Sambath, Nuon Chea, Pol Pot, Khieu Samphan

Votes: 435 | Gross: $0.07M

45. Popaganda: The Art and Crimes of Ron English (2005)

78 min | Documentary

Documentary about street artist Ron English, who vandalizes billboards with elaborate, anti-corporate propaganda.

Director: Pedro Carvajal | Stars: Pedro Carvajal, Ron English, Shepard Fairey

Votes: 109

46. Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992)

Not Rated | 167 min | Documentary, Biography, War

A film about the noted American linguist/political dissident and his warning about corporate media's role in modern propaganda.

Directors: Mark Achbar, Peter Wintonick | Stars: Noam Chomsky, Mark Achbar, Karin Aguilar-San Juan, Paul Andrews

Votes: 3,897

47. Zizek! (2005)

Not Rated | 71 min | Documentary

51 Metascore

A look at the controversial author, philosopher and candidate for Slovenian presidency: Slavoj Zizek.

Director: Astra Taylor | Star: Slavoj Zizek

Votes: 1,346 | Gross: $0.02M

48. Examined Life (2008)

Not Rated | 87 min | Documentary

64 Metascore

Examined Life pulls philosophy out of academic journals and classrooms, and puts it back on the streets. In Examined Life, filmmaker Astra Taylor accompanies some of today's most ... See full summary »

Director: Astra Taylor | Stars: K. Anthony Appiah, Judith Butler, Michael Hardt, Martha Nussbaum

Votes: 1,397 | Gross: $0.12M

49. Cropsey (2009)

Not Rated | 84 min | Documentary, Crime, Horror

73 Metascore

Realizing the urban legend of their youth has actually come true; two filmmakers delve into the mystery surrounding five missing children and the real-life boogeyman linked to their disappearances.

Directors: Barbara Brancaccio, Joshua Zeman | Stars: Joshua Zeman, Barbara Brancaccio, Bill Ellis, Dorothy D'Eletto

Votes: 6,597 | Gross: $0.05M

50. Joy Division (2007)

R | 93 min | Documentary, Music

A chronological account of the influential late 1970s English rock band.

Director: Grant Gee | Stars: Richard Boon, Anton Corbijn, Kevin Cummins, Ian Curtis

Votes: 2,807

51.