My Recommended Documentaries

by Chris Thompson | created - 19 Jan 2012 | updated - 1 month ago | Public
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1. 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: 47,010 | Gross: $2.96M

2. Anvil: The Story of Anvil (2008)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary, Biography, Drama

82 Metascore

Since 1978, Anvil has become one of heavy metal's most influential yet commercially unsuccessful acts. In 2006, after a fledging European tour Anvil sets out to record their thirteenth album and continue to follow their dreams.

Director: Sacha Gervasi | Stars: Robb Reiner, Steve 'Lips' Kudlow, Tiziana Arrigoni, Scott Ian

Votes: 14,403 | Gross: $0.67M

3. Big River Man (2009)

100 min | Documentary

68 Metascore

Martin Strel attempts to cover 3,375 miles of the Amazon River, the longest continuous swim in history.

Director: John Maringouin | Stars: Matthew Mohlke, Borut Strel, Martin Strel

Votes: 1,442

4. Bigger Stronger Faster* (2008)

PG-13 | 105 min | Documentary, Sport

80 Metascore

An examination of America's win-at-all-cost culture from the perspective of bodybuilding and performance enhancing drugs, as it focuses on a pair of siblings chasing their dream.

Director: Chris Bell | Stars: Chris Bell, Mike Bell, Mark Bell, Hank Aaron

Votes: 12,531 | Gross: $0.31M

5. Born Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids (2004)

R | 85 min | Documentary

78 Metascore

Two documentary filmmakers chronicle their time in Sonagchi, Calcutta and the relationships they developed with children of prostitutes who work the city's notorious red light district.

Directors: Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman | Stars: Kochi, Avijit Halder, Shanti Das, Manik

Votes: 13,916 | Gross: $3.41M

6. Bowling for Columbine (2002)

R | 120 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama

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: 131,178 | Gross: $21.24M

7. Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade (2007)

R | 90 min | Documentary

1982's Video Game World Champions share their philosophies on joysticks, groupies and life.

Director: Lincoln Ruchti | Stars: Walter Day, Ben Gold, Steve Sanders, Kent Farries

Votes: 1,254

8. Cocaine Cowboys (2006)

R | 118 min | Documentary, Crime, History

59 Metascore

In the 1980s, ruthless Colombian cocaine barons invaded Miami with a brand of violence unseen in this country since Prohibition-era Chicago - and it put the city on the map. "Cocaine ... See full summary »

Director: Billy Corben | Stars: Jon Roberts, Al Sunshine, Sam Burstyn, Mickey Munday

Votes: 11,505 | Gross: $0.15M

9. Cocaine Cowboys 2 (2008)

Not Rated | 97 min | Documentary, Crime, History

Set in 1991 on the inner-city streets of Oakland, California, cocaine dealer Charles Cosby has his life changed forever when he writes a fan letter to the "Cocaine Godmother" Griselda ... See full summary »

Director: Billy Corben | Stars: Nelson Andreu, Jorge Ayala, Griselda Blanco, Sam Burstyn

Votes: 2,525

10. Countdown to Zero (2010)

PG | 91 min | Documentary

70 Metascore

A documentary about how the likelihood of nuclear weapons (or fissile materials) usage has increased due to the rise of terrorism and lack of safeguards and verification.

Director: Lucy Walker | Stars: Graham Allison, James Baker III, Bruce Blair, Tony Blair

Votes: 2,042 | Gross: $0.27M

11. Deliver Us from Evil (2006)

Not Rated | 101 min | Documentary, Crime

86 Metascore

Documentary about Father Oliver O'Grady, a Catholic priest who was relocated to various parishes around the United States during the 1970s in an attempt by the Catholic Church to cover up his rape of dozens of children.

Director: Amy Berg | Stars: Oliver O'Grady, Thomas Doyle, Adam, Jeff Anderson

Votes: 9,052 | Gross: $30.58M

12. 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: 56,556 | Gross: $3.29M

14. Global Metal (2008)

93 min | Documentary, Music

A continued examination of the heavy metal subculture focusing on the adaptation and performance of heavy metal in various global communities, and how the increased import of Western cultural forms has impacted new global markets.

Directors: Sam Dunn, Scot McFadyen | Stars: Tom Araya, Ken Ayugai, Rafael Bittencourt, Max Cavalera

Votes: 4,134

15. Grizzly Man (2005)

R | 103 min | Documentary, Biography

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: 46,243 | Gross: $3.17M

16. Harlan County U.S.A. (1976)

PG | 103 min | Documentary

80 Metascore

A filmed account of a bitterly violent miner strike.

Director: Barbara Kopple | Stars: Norman Yarborough, Houston Elmore, Phil Sparks, John Corcoran

Votes: 4,019

17. White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2007)

Not Rated | 86 min | Documentary, History

Using extensive interviews with survivors and archival footage, an examination reveals the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Director: Steven Okazaki | Stars: Harold Agnew, Shuntaro Hida, Kiyoko Imori, Morris Jeppson

Votes: 1,517

18. Hearts and Minds (1974)

R | 112 min | Documentary, War

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: 4,687 | Gross: $0.03M

19. In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)

PG | 100 min | Documentary, History

84 Metascore

The crew members of NASA's Apollo missions tell their story in their own words.

Director: David Sington | Stars: Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Stephen Armstrong, Viola Armstrong

Votes: 5,919 | Gross: $1.13M

20. Inside Job (2010)

PG-13 | 105 min | Documentary, Crime

88 Metascore

Takes a closer look at what brought about the 2008 financial meltdown.

Director: Charles Ferguson | Stars: Matt Damon, Gylfi Zoega, Andri Snær Magnason, Sigridur Benediktsdottir

Votes: 62,893 | Gross: $4.31M

21. Jesus Camp (2006)

PG-13 | 87 min | Documentary

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: 24,651 | Gross: $0.90M

22. Murder on a Sunday Morning (2001)

Not Rated | 111 min | Documentary, Crime

Oscar-winning documentary that documents a murder trial in which a 15-year-old African-American is wrongfully accused of a 2000 murder in Jacksonville, Florida.

Director: Jean-Xavier de Lestrade | Stars: Ann Finnell, Patrick McGuinness, James Williams, Michael Glover

Votes: 3,792

23. Murderball (2005)

R | 88 min | Documentary, Sport

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: 9,405 | Gross: $1.52M

24. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003)

R | 93 min | Documentary, Crime

71 Metascore

Nick Broomfield's second documentary on Aileen Carol Wuornos, a highway prostitute who was executed in 2002 for killing six men in the state of Florida. This second installment includes the filmmaker's testimony at Wournous's trial.

Directors: Nick Broomfield, Joan Churchill | Stars: Aileen Wuornos, Nick Broomfield, Terry Humphreys-Slay, Leitha Prather

Votes: 5,471 | Gross: $0.10M

25. Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (1992)

R | 87 min | Documentary, Crime

1992, Florida, USA. Aileen Wuornos is claimed to be the world's first female serial killer.

Director: Nick Broomfield | Stars: Jesse 'The Human Bomb' Aviles, Nick Broomfield, Cannonball, Steve Glazer

Votes: 2,208

26. No End in Sight (2007)

Not Rated | 102 min | Documentary, War

89 Metascore

A comprehensive look at the Bush Administration's conduct of the Iraq war and its occupation of the country.

Director: Charles Ferguson | Stars: Campbell Scott, Gerald Burke, Ali Fadhil, Omar Fekeiki

Votes: 7,727 | Gross: $1.43M

27. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996)

Not Rated | 150 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama

A horrific triple child murder leads to an indictment and trial of three nonconformist boys based on questionable evidence.

Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky | Stars: Tony Brooks, Diana Davis, Terry Wood, Dick Clay

Votes: 12,606

28. Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (2000 TV Movie)

Unrated | 130 min | Documentary, Crime

The case of the West Memphis Three, its questionable circumstances and the parties involved are followed up years later.

Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky | Stars: Damien Wayne Echols, Melissa Byers, Norris Deajon, Tim Sullivan

Votes: 6,580

29. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (2011)

Not Rated | 121 min | Documentary, Crime

85 Metascore

A further followup of the case of the West Memphis Three and the decades long fight to exonerate them that finally gained traction with new DNA evidence.

Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky | Stars: Gary Gitchell, Todd Moore, Dana Moore, Pam Hobbs

Votes: 7,633

30. Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea (2004)

Not Rated | 74 min | Documentary

72 Metascore

Renowned cult film director John Waters narrates this quirky exploration of the Salton Sea, the massive Southern California lake that was created by accident a century ago, became a popular... See full summary »

Directors: Chris Metzler, Jeff Springer | Stars: Sonny Bono, John Waters, Norm Niver, Petre Melvin

Votes: 580 | Gross: $0.05M

31. Raw Deal: A Question of Consent (2001)

90 min | Documentary, Crime

A documentary about the circumstances during a party at a University of Florida fraternity that led up to what may or may not have been a rape. Interspersed with actual footage shot by the ... See full summary »

Director: Billy Corben | Stars: Craig C. DeThomasis, Alice Hendon, Disa Holly, Lisa King

Votes: 273

32. Religulous (2008)

R | 101 min | Documentary, Comedy, War

56 Metascore

Bill Maher's take on the current state of world religion.

Director: Larry Charles | Stars: Bill Maher, Tal Bachman, Jonathan Boulden, Steve Burg

Votes: 55,038 | Gross: $13.00M

33. Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (2010)

Not Rated | 107 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

An in-depth look at the Canadian rock band Rush, chronicling the band's musical evolution from their progressive rock sound of the '70s to their current heavy rock style.

Directors: Sam Dunn, Scot McFadyen | Stars: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart, Trent Reznor

Votes: 3,425

34. Senna (2010)

PG-13 | 106 min | Documentary, Biography, Sport

79 Metascore

A documentary on Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 world championship three times before his death at age 34.

Director: Asif Kapadia | Stars: Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Frank Williams, Ron Dennis

Votes: 51,464 | Gross: $1.61M

35. Sharkwater (2006)

PG | 89 min | Documentary

59 Metascore

An investigation of sharks' importance to ecosystems and humankind's mass destruction of shark species worldwide.

Director: Rob Stewart | Stars: Rob Stewart, Paul Watson, Erich Ritter, Boris Worm

Votes: 4,499 | Gross: $0.85M

36. Sicko (2007)

PG-13 | 123 min | Documentary, Drama

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: 70,115 | Gross: $24.54M

37. Spellbound (2002)

G | 97 min | Documentary, Comedy, Thriller

80 Metascore

Spellbound follows eight teenagers on their quest to win the 1999 National Spelling Bee.

Director: Jeffrey Blitz | Stars: Angela Arenivar, Ubaldo Arenivar, Jorge Arenivar, Scott McGarraugh

Votes: 11,411 | Gross: $5.73M

38. Super Size Me (2004)

PG | 100 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama

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: 92,614 | Gross: $11.53M

39. The Bridge (I) (2006)

R | 94 min | Documentary, Drama

58 Metascore

People suffer largely unnoticed while the rest of the world goes about its business. This is a documentary exploration of the mythic beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge, the most popular ... See full summary »

Director: Eric Steel | Stars: Eric Geleynse, Chris Brown, Susan Ginwalla, Caroline Pressley

Votes: 10,158 | Gross: $0.18M

40. The Cove (2009)

PG-13 | 92 min | Documentary, Crime

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: 43,739 | Gross: $0.86M

41. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)

PG-13 | 79 min | Documentary, Biography, Sport

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: 32,630 | Gross: $0.68M

42. The Weather Underground (2002)

Unrated | 92 min | Documentary, History, War

77 Metascore

The remarkable story of The Weather Underground, radical activists of the 1970s, and of radical politics at its best and most disastrous.

Directors: Sam Green, Bill Siegel | Stars: Lili Taylor, Pamela Z, Jim Lange, Evan White

Votes: 3,213 | Gross: $0.56M

43. The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary, Biography, History

A documentary of the successful career and assassination of San Francisco's first elected gay councilor.

Director: Rob Epstein | Stars: Harvey Fierstein, Harvey Milk, Anne Kronenberg, Tory Hartmann

Votes: 4,995 | Gross: $0.01M

44. Touching the Void (2003)

R | 106 min | Documentary, Adventure, Drama

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: 29,934 | Gross: $4.58M

45. Twist of Faith (2004)

TV-MA | 87 min | Documentary

70 Metascore

A man confronts the trauma of past sexual abuse as a boy by a Catholic priest only to find his decision shatters his relationships with his family, community and faith.

Director: Kirby Dick | Stars: Jeff Anderson, Barbara Blaine, David Clohessy, Sandy Comes

Votes: 741 | Gross: $0.00M

46. When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006– )

TV-MA | 255 min | Documentary

An examination of the U.S. government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Stars: Darleen Asevedo, Jay Asevedo, Shelton Shakespear Alexander, Lee Arnold

Votes: 3,825

47. Project Nim (2011)

PG-13 | 93 min | Documentary

83 Metascore

Tells the story of a chimpanzee taken from its mother at birth and raised like a human child by a family in a brownstone on the upper West Side in the 1970s.

Director: James Marsh | Stars: Nim Chimpsky, Stephanie LaFarge, Herbert Terrace, Wer LaFarge

Votes: 7,760 | Gross: $0.41M

48. Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey (2011)

PG | 80 min | Documentary

71 Metascore

The Muppet Elmo is one of the most beloved characters among children across the globe. Meet the unlikely man behind the puppet - the heart and soul of Elmo - Kevin Clash.

Director: Constance Marks | Stars: Kevin Clash, Whoopi Goldberg, Frank Oz, Bill Barretta

Votes: 6,251 | Gross: $0.30M

49. 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: 21,300 | Gross: $3.12M

50. Lost in La Mancha (2002)

R | 89 min | Documentary

7.4