Documentary Award Contenders

by IMDb-Editors | created - 09 Oct 2017 | updated - 09 Oct 2017 | Public
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1. Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2016)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary

73 Metascore

A small financial institution called Abacus becomes the only company criminally indicted in the wake of the United States' 2008 mortgage crisis.

Director: Steve James | Stars: Thomas Sung, Hwei Lin Sung, Cyrus Vance Jr., Matt Taibbi

Votes: 2,389 | Gross: $0.10M

2. Beware the Slenderman (2016)

TV-14 | 114 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

Tells the story of two 12-year old girls, who attempted to murder one of their friends in an attempt to appease Slenderman, a fictional monster from a horror website.

Director: Irene Taylor Brodsky | Stars: Morgan Geyser, Anissa Weier, Angie Geyser, Bill Weier

Votes: 4,993

3. California Typewriter (2016)

TV-PG | 103 min | Documentary

80 Metascore

California Typewriter is a story about people whose lives are connected by typewriters. The film is a meditation on creativity and technology featuring Tom Hanks, John Mayer, Sam Shepard, David McCullough and others.

Director: Doug Nichol | Stars: Silvi Alcivar, Ken Alexander, Tom Hanks, Martin Howard

Votes: 539 | Gross: $0.24M

4. Chasing Coral (2017)

93 min | Documentary

86 Metascore

Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. A team of divers, photographers and scientists set out on a thrilling ocean adventure to discover why and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world.

Director: Jeff Orlowski | Stars: Andrew Ackerman, Pim Bongaerts, Neal Cantin, Phil Dustan

Votes: 3,090

5. City of Ghosts (2017)

R | 92 min | Documentary, War

86 Metascore

A documentary that follows the efforts of "Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently," a handful of anonymous activists who banded together after their homeland was taken over by ISIS in 2014. ... See full summary »

Director: Matthew Heineman | Stars: Abdelaziz Alhamza, Mohamad Almusari, Hamoud Almousa, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi

Votes: 2,882 | Gross: $0.13M

6. Cries from Syria (2017)

TV-MA | 111 min | Documentary, Drama

76 Metascore

CRIES FROM SYRIA is a searing, comprehensive account of a brutal five-year conflict from the inside out, drawing on hundreds of hours of war footage from Syrian activists and citizen ... See full summary »

Director: Evgeny Afineevsky | Stars: Hadi Al Abdullah, Raed Al Saleh, Riad Al-Asaad, Bashar al-Assad

Votes: 775

7. Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016)

120 min | Documentary, History

85 Metascore

The history of Dawson City, the gold rush town that had a historical treasure of forgotten silent films buried in permafrost for decades until 1978.

Director: Bill Morrison | Stars: Kathy Jones-Gates, Michael Gates, Sam Kula, Bill O'Farrell

Votes: 1,176 | Gross: $0.13M

8. Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends) (2017)

TV-MA | 84 min | Documentary, Music

72 Metascore

A little over a year ago, nine terrorists drove into Paris with guns, grenades, and suicide belts. They were there to perpetrate a coordinated, calculated mass murder on behalf of ISIL and,... See full summary »

Director: Colin Hanks | Stars: Jesse Hughes, Josh Homme, Dave Catching, Matt McJunkins

Votes: 782

9. Ex Libris: The New York Public Library (2017)

197 min | Documentary

91 Metascore

A look within the walls of the New York Public Library.

Director: Frederick Wiseman | Stars: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Elvis Costello, Richard Dawkins, Edmund de Waal

Votes: 779 | Gross: $0.16M

10. Faces Places (2017)

PG | 94 min | Documentary

94 Metascore

Director Agnes Varda and photographer/muralist J.R. journey through rural France and form an unlikely friendship.

Directors: JR, Agnès Varda | Stars: Agnès Varda, JR, Jeannine Carpentier, Clemens Van Dungern

Votes: 7,934 | Gross: $0.95M

11. Jane (II) (2017)

PG | 90 min | Documentary, Biography

87 Metascore

The life and work of the renowned primatology scientist, Jane Goodall, especially on her research about chimpanzees.

Director: Brett Morgen | Stars: Jane Goodall, Hugo Van Lawick, Hugo Eric Louis van Lawick

Votes: 2,918 | Gross: $1.72M

12. Kedi (2016)

Not Rated | 79 min | Documentary

78 Metascore

A profile of an ancient city and its unique people, seen through the eyes of the most mysterious and beloved animal humans have ever known, the Cat.

Director: Ceyda Torun | Stars: Yaman Barlas, Sari, Arzu Göl, Kemal Suncu

Votes: 10,764 | Gross: $2.83M

13. Spettacolo (2017)

TV-PG | 91 min | Documentary

76 Metascore

Once upon a time there was a tiny hill town in Tuscany that found a remarkable way to confront their issues - they turned their lives into a play. "Spettacolo" is a portrait of this 50-... See full summary »

Directors: Jeff Malmberg, Chris Shellen | Stars: Andrea Cresti, Chiara Del Ciondolo, Gianna Fiore, Gianpiero Giglioni

Votes: 98 | Gross: $0.03M

14. Strong Island (2017)

TV-MA | 107 min | Documentary

86 Metascore

When filmmaker Yance Ford investigates the 1992 murder of a young black man, it becomes an achingly personal journey since the victim, 24-year-old William Ford Jr., was the filmmaker's brother.

Director: Yance Ford | Stars: Yance Ford, Harvey Walker, Kevin Myers, Lauren Ford

Votes: 2,835

15. Nowhere to Hide (2016)

86 min | Documentary

82 Metascore

"Nowhere to Hide" follows a man - the medic and father Nori Sharif - through 5 years of dramatic change in the war-torn Diyala-province; one of the most dangerous provinces in the middle of... See full summary »

Director: Zaradasht Ahmed | Stars: Abu Fallah, Hans Husum, Mudhafar, Nori Sharif

Votes: 167

16. Step (2017)

PG | 84 min | Documentary

81 Metascore

STEP documents the senior year of a girls' high-school step dance team against the background of inner-city Baltimore.

Director: Amanda Lipitz | Stars: Gari McIntyre, Amanda Leonard, Blessin Giraldo, Chevonne Hall

Votes: 731 | Gross: $1.15M

17. Whose Streets? (2017)

R | 90 min | Documentary

81 Metascore

Whose Streets? is an unflinching look at how the killing of 18-year-old Mike Brown inspired a community to fight back and sparked a global movement.

Directors: Sabaah Folayan, Damon Davis | Stars: Lezley McSpadden, Michael Brown Sr., David Whitt, Montague Simmons

Votes: 927 | Gross: $0.18M

18. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017)

PG | 98 min | Documentary

68 Metascore

A decade after An Inconvenient Truth (2006) brought climate change to the heart of popular culture, the follow-up shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution.

Directors: Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk | Stars: Al Gore, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Laurent Fabius

Votes: 6,619 | Gross: $3.50M

19. City of Ghosts (2017)

R | 92 min | Documentary, War

86 Metascore

A documentary that follows the efforts of "Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently," a handful of anonymous activists who banded together after their homeland was taken over by ISIS in 2014. ... See full summary »

Director: Matthew Heineman | Stars: Abdelaziz Alhamza, Mohamad Almusari, Hamoud Almousa, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi

Votes: 2,882 | Gross: $0.13M

20. Dolores (I) (2017)

Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary, Biography, History

81 Metascore

In the 1950's, a working-class wife and mother of eleven children helps to establish a farmer's union, which later develops into a platform for feminism and gender equality.

Director: Peter Bratt | Stars: Dolores Huerta, Martin Luther King, Luis Valdez, Ricardo S. Chavez

Votes: 242 | Gross: $0.56M

21. 11/8/16 (2017)

Not Rated | 104 min | Documentary

62 Metascore

On the morning of Election Day 2016, Americans of all stripes woke up and went about living their lives. These were the hours leading up to Donald Trump's unexpected, earth-shaking victory, but, of course, no one knew that yet.

Directors: Duane Andersen, Don Argott, Yung Chang, Garth Donovan, Petra Epperlein, Vikram Gandhi, Raul Gasteazoro, J. Gonçalves, Andrew Grace, Alma Har'el, Sheena M. Joyce, Daniel Junge, Alison Klayman, Ciara Lacy, Martha Shane, Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Bassam Tariq, Michael Tucker | Star: Abby Linne

Votes: 233

22. The Reagan Show (2017)

TV-PG | 74 min | Documentary

66 Metascore

Made up entirely of archival news and White House footage, this documentary captures the pageantry, absurdity, and mastery of the made-for-TV politics of Ronald Reagan.

Directors: Sierra Pettengill, Pacho Velez | Stars: Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, George Bush

Votes: 239

23. Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives (2017)

123 min | Documentary

57 Metascore

A look at the life and work of music producer, Clive Davis.

Director: Chris Perkel | Stars: Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Carlos Santana, Sean 'Diddy' Combs

Votes: 64

24. Trophy (2017)

Not Rated | 108 min | Documentary

80 Metascore

This in-depth look into the powerhouse industries of big-game hunting, breeding and wildlife conservation in the U.S. and Africa unravels the complex consequences of treating animals as commodities.

Directors: Christina Clusiau, Shaul Schwarz | Stars: Tim Black, Philip Glass, Christo Gomes, John Hume

Votes: 479 | Gross: $0.02M

25. Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton (2017)

Not Rated | 118 min | Documentary, Sport

66 Metascore

This is the remarkable story of an American icon who changed the sport of big wave surfing forever. Transcending the surf genre, this in-depth portrait of a hard-charging athlete explores ... See full summary »

Director: Rory Kennedy | Stars: Nick Carroll, Darrick Doerner, Laird Hamilton, Gabrielle Reece

Votes: 350 | Gross: $0.18M

26. AlphaGo (2017)

90 min | Documentary

With more board configurations than there are atoms in the observable universe, the ancient Chinese game of 'Go' has long been considered a grand challenge for artificial intelligence. On ... See full summary »

Director: Greg Kohs | Stars: Ioannis Antonoglou, Lucas Baker, Nick Bostrom, Yoo Changhyuk

Votes: 3,198

27. Disgraced (2017)

TV-14 | 102 min | Documentary, Crime, Sport

The background of the 2003 murder of Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy and the attempted, related cover-up of NCAA violations rampant in the Baylor basketball program by Coach Dave Bliss.

Director: Pat Kondelis | Stars: Dave Bliss, Rob Faubion, Roshaun Valentine, Larry S. White

Votes: 339

28. Icarus (I) (2017)

TV-MA | 120 min | Documentary, Sport, Thriller

68 Metascore

When Bryan sets out to uncover the truth about doping in sports, a chance meeting with a Russian scientist transforms his story from a personal experiment into a geopolitical thriller.

Director: Bryan Fogel | Stars: Thomas Bach, Sebastian Coe, Bryan Fogel, Nikita Kamaev

Votes: 28,305

29. Speed Sisters (2015)

78 min | Documentary, Adventure, Drama

65 Metascore

The Speed Sisters are the first all-women race car driving team in the Middle East. They're bold. They're fearless. And they're tearing up tracks all over Palestine.

Director: Amber Fares

Votes: 194

30. Contemporary Color (2016)

PG-13 | 97 min | Documentary, Music

79 Metascore

In the summer of 2015, legendary musician David Byrne staged an event at Brooklyn's Barclays Center to celebrate the art of Color Guard: synchronized dance routines involving flags, rifles,... See full summary »

Directors: Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross | Stars: Simon Bennett, David Byrne, Christian Delmotte, Nelly Furtado

Votes: 114 | Gross: $0.02M

31. I Called Him Morgan (2016)

92 min | Documentary, Drama, History

90 Metascore

An exploration of the relationship between jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan and his common-law wife Helen, who was implicated in his murder in 1972.

Director: Kasper Collin | Stars: Lee Morgan, Helen Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Larry Reni Thomas

Votes: 1,109 | Gross: $0.10M

32. Long Strange Trip (2017)

R | 238 min | Documentary

78 Metascore

A look at the 30-year career of The Grateful Dead.

Director: Amir Bar-Lev | Stars: John Perry Barlow, Tom Constanten, Sam Cutler, Jerry Garcia

Votes: 948

33. Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World (2017)

103 min | Documentary, Music

73 Metascore

RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World is a feature documentary about the role of Native Americans in popular music history.

Directors: Catherine Bainbridge, Alfonso Maiorana | Stars: Apl.de.Ap, Dan Auerbach, Scott Barretta, Adam Beach

Votes: 436 | Gross: $0.23M

34. This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous (2017)

91 min | Documentary

61 Metascore

Are there limits to your love for your family? One family's acceptance is tested when a champion diver, destined for the Olympics, announces they're transitioning from male to female and ... See full summary »

Director: Barbara Kopple | Stars: Cory Binney, Scott Fisher, August Getty, Frankie Grande

Votes: 238

35. 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017)

Not Rated | 91 min | Documentary

74 Metascore

An unprecedented look at the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), the "man behind the curtain", and the screen murder that profoundly changed the course of world cinema.

Director: Alexandre O. Philippe | Stars: Marli Renfro, Alfred Hitchcock, Tere Carrubba, Alan Barnette

Votes: 2,257 | Gross: $0.04M

36. Casting JonBenet (2017)

TV-14 | 80 min | Documentary

74 Metascore

In the months following the unsolved murder of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, responses were elicited from her Colorado hometown community, creating a work of art from the collective memories and mythologies the crime inspired.

Director: Kitty Green | Stars: Hannah Cagwin, Aeona Cruz, Liv Bagley, Shylee Sagle

Votes: 4,009

37. Karl Marx City (2016)

89 min | Documentary

73 Metascore

A filmmaker journey through the former East Germany looking into her father's 1999 suicide.

Directors: Petra Epperlein, Michael Tucker | Stars: Christa Epperlein, Petra Epperlein, Uwe Epperlein, Volker Epperlein

Votes: 170

38. Last Men in Aleppo (2017)

Not Rated | 83 min | Documentary, War

80 Metascore

Khaled, Mahmoud and Subhi volunteer with the White Helmets trying to save lives of hundreds of victims in the besieged city of Aleppo during the Syrian Civil War.

Directors: Feras Fayyad, Steen Johannessen | Stars: Khaled Umar Harah, Batul, Mahmoud, Abu Umar

Votes: 2,209 | Gross: $0.01M

39. Dina (2017)

Not Rated | 103 min | Documentary

75 Metascore

An eccentric suburban woman and a Walmart door greeter navigate their evolving relationship in this unconventional love story.

Directors: Antonio Santini, Dan Sickles | Stars: Dina Buno, Scott Levin, Frank Costanzo, Jeannie Levin

Votes: 519 | Gross: $0.09M

40. Served Like a Girl (2017)

103 min | Documentary

85 Metascore

Director Lysa Heslov's documentary, "Served Like a Girl, provides a candid look at several American women as they transition from active duty to civilian life after serving tours of duty in... See full summary »

Director: Lysa Heslov | Stars: Nichole Alred, Jas Boothe, Rachel Engler, Hope Garcia

Votes: 269 | Gross: $0.01M

41. The Defiant Ones (2017)

60 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

"The Defiant Ones" examines the partnership between Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre - one the son of a Brooklyn longshoreman, the other straight out of Compton - and their leading roles in a chain of transformative events in contemporary culture.

Stars: Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine, Trent Reznor, Verna Griffin

Votes: 8,580

42. Five Came Back (2017)

TV-14 | 60 min | Documentary, Biography, History

The wartime contributions of five prominent Hollywood film directors during World War II are profiled.

Stars: Francis Ford Coppola, Guillermo del Toro, Paul Greengrass, Lawrence Kasdan

Votes: 2,717

43. The Keepers (II) (2017)

TV-MA | 436 min | Documentary, Crime

A seven-part docuseries about the unsolved murder of a nun and the horrific secrets and pain that linger nearly five decades after her death.

Stars: Gemma Hoskins, Abbie Schaub, Virginia Anzengruber, Jean Hargadon Wehner

Votes: 13,069

44. The Nineties (2017)

60 min | Documentary

A TV documentary miniseries chronicling the trends, pop culture, and important events that took place from 1990 to 1999.

Stars: Dan Rather, Gil Troy, Nelson George, Renee Graham

Votes: 685

45. Planet Earth II (2016)

TV-G | 298 min | Documentary

David Attenborough returns in this breathtaking documentary showcasing life on Planet Earth.

Star: David Attenborough

Votes: 68,447

46. The Vietnam War (2017)

TV-MA | 990 min | Documentary, History, War

A comprehensive history of the United States' involvement in the bitterly divisive armed conflict in Southeast Asia.

Stars: Peter Coyote, Huy Duc, Duong Van Mai Elliott, James Willbanks

Votes: 10,739

47. 30 for 30 (2009– )

60 min | Documentary, Biography, History

ESPN Films' 30 for 30 is an unprecedented documentary series featuring today's finest storytellers from inside and outside of the sports world. What started as a celebration of ESPN's 30th ... See full summary »

Stars: Ice Cube, Dick Vitale, Brent Musburger, Mike Tyson

Votes: 3,715

48. American Masters (1985– )

TV-14 | 90 min | Documentary, Biography

Since its premiere in 1986, this Emmy-winning documentary series has presented hundreds of hours comprising profiles of outstanding American cultural artists. Past subjects have included ... See full summary »

Stars: Martin Scorsese, Tony Bennett, Peter Bogdanovich, Lee Grant

Votes: 647

49. Frontline (1983– )

TV-MA | 60 min | Documentary