Top 20 Character-Driven Documentaries

by chad-119-551055 | created - 29 Apr 2018 | updated - 29 Apr 2018 | Public

My favorite character-driven documentaries.

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1. The Overnighters (2014)

PG-13 | 102 min | Documentary, Drama

89 Metascore

Broken, desperate men chase their dreams and run from their demons in the North Dakota oil fields. A local Pastor risks everything to help them.

Director: Jesse Moss | Stars: Jay Reinke, Andrea Reinke, Alan Mezo, Shelly Schultz

Votes: 2,224 | Gross: $0.11M

2. American Movie (1999)

R | 107 min | Documentary, Comedy

84 Metascore

Documentary about an aspiring filmmaker's attempts to finance his dream project by finally completing the low-budget horror film he abandoned years before.

Director: Chris Smith | Stars: Mark Borchardt, Mike Schank, Tom Schimmels, Monica Borchardt

Votes: 15,535 | Gross: $1.16M

3. Burden of Dreams (1982)

Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary

A documentary on the chaotic production of Werner Herzog's epic Fitzcarraldo (1982), showing how the film managed to get made despite problems that would have floored a less obsessively ... See full summary »

Director: Les Blank | Stars: Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards

Votes: 5,622

4. When We Were Kings (1996)

PG | 88 min | Documentary, Sport

83 Metascore

A documentary of the 1974 heavyweight championship bout in Zaire, "The Rumble in the Jungle," between champion George Foreman and underdog challenger Muhammad Ali.

Director: Leon Gast | Stars: Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Don King, James Brown

Votes: 13,803 | Gross: $2.67M

5. Point and Shoot (2014)

Not Rated | 83 min | Documentary

65 Metascore

An American sets out with his motorbike to find both adventure and his sense of manhood, leading him on an extraordinary journey he could not have imagined, including fighting in the Libyan Revolution.

Director: Marshall Curry | Stars: Matt Sager, Matthew Vandyke

Votes: 1,578

6. 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: 33,307 | Gross: $0.68M

7. Marwencol (2010)

Not Rated | 83 min | Documentary, Biography, Fantasy

82 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: 3,132 | Gross: $0.11M

8. Almost There (I) (2014)

Not Rated | 93 min | Documentary, Biography, Comedy

70 Metascore

An elderly "outsider" artist living in at-risk conditions befriends two filmmakers and causes controversy at his first major exhibition.

Directors: Dan Rybicky, Aaron Wickenden | Star: Peter Anton

Votes: 81

9. Sherman's March (1985)

Not Rated | 157 min | Documentary, Biography, Comedy

Ross McElwee sets out to make a documentary about the lingering effects of General Sherman's march of destruction through the South during the Civil War, but is continually sidetracked by ... See full summary »

Director: Ross McElwee | Stars: Ross McElwee, Dede McElwee, Ross McElwee Jr., Patricia Rendleman

Votes: 2,178

10. Nobody's Business (1996)

Not Rated | 60 min | Documentary

A portrait of the director's father, searching for the extraordinary in the subject's seemingly normal existence.

Director: Alan Berliner | Stars: Alan Berliner, Oscar Berliner

Votes: 536

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: 49,434 | Gross: $2.96M

12. 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 Ray Harris, Gus Rose, Jackie Johnson

Votes: 19,852 | Gross: $1.21M

13. My Best Fiend (1999)

Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary, Biography

70 Metascore

In the 1950s, an adolescent Werner Herzog was transfixed by a film performance of the young Klaus Kinski. Years later, they would share an apartment where, in an unabated, forty-eight-hour ... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale, Justo González

Votes: 9,529 | Gross: $0.10M

14. Grizzly Man (2005)

R | 103 min | Documentary, Biography

87 Metascore

A devastating and heart-rending take on grizzly bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, who were killed in October of 2003 while living among grizzly bears in Alaska.

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Timothy Treadwell, Amie Huguenard, Werner Herzog, Carol Dexter

Votes: 48,398 | Gross: $3.17M

15. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991)

R | 96 min | Documentary

Documentary that chronicles how Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979) was plagued by extraordinary script, shooting, budget, and casting problems--nearly destroying the life and career of the celebrated director.

Directors: Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper, Eleanor Coppola | Stars: Dennis Hopper, Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, George Lucas

Votes: 16,865 | Gross: $1.32M

16. A Family Affair (II) (2015)

110 min | Documentary

75 Metascore

On his 30th birthday, Tom Fassaert receives a mysterious invitation from his 95-year-old grandmother Marianne to come visit her in South Africa. At that time, the only thing he knows about ... See full summary »

Director: Tom Fassaert

Votes: 414

17. 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: 15,017 | Gross: $0.67M

18. The Look of Silence (2014)

PG-13 | 103 min | Documentary, Biography, History

92 Metascore

A family that survived the genocide in Indonesia confronts the men who killed one of their brothers.

Director: Joshua Oppenheimer | Stars: Adi Rukun, M.Y. Basrun, Amir Hasan, Inong

Votes: 10,197 | Gross: $0.11M

19. The Queen of Versailles (2012)

PG | 100 min | Documentary

80 Metascore

A documentary that follows a billionaire couple as they begin construction on a mansion inspired by Versailles. During the next two years, their empire, fueled by the real estate bubble and cheap money, falters due to the economic crisis.

Director: Lauren Greenfield | Stars: Jaqueline Siegel, David Siegel, Lorraine Barrett, June Downs

Votes: 11,958 | Gross: $2.40M

20. The Russian Woodpecker (2015)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary, War

74 Metascore

As his country is gripped by revolution and war, a Ukrainian victim of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster discovers a dark secret and must decide whether to risk his life and play his part in the revolution by revealing it.

Director: Chad Gracia | Stars: Andrei Alexandrovich, Fedor Alexandrovich, Igor Alexandrovich, Natalia Barabovskaya

Votes: 1,181



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