My top documentaries (2019)

by tourdesb | created - 1 week ago | updated - 1 week ago | Public
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1. 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: 47,487 | Gross: $3.17M

2. Lektionen in Finsternis (1992)

Not Rated | 54 min | Documentary, War

This film shows the disaster of the Kuwaitian oil fields in flames, with few interviews and no explanatory narration. Hell itself is presented in such beautiful sights and music that one has to be fascinated by it.

Director: Werner Herzog | Star: Werner Herzog

Votes: 4,552

3. Welfare (1975)

167 min | Documentary

WELFARE shows the nature and complexity of the welfare system in sequences illustrating the staggering diversity of problems that constitute welfare: housing, unemployment, divorce, medical... See full summary »

Director: Frederick Wiseman

Votes: 309

4. Land of Silence and Darkness (1971)

Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary

Through examining Fini Straubinger, an old woman who has been deaf and blind since adolescence, and her work on behalf of other deaf and blind people, this film shows how the deaf and blind... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Fini Straubinger, M. Baaske, Elsa Fehrer, Heinrich Fleischmann

Votes: 2,158

5. Salaam Cinema (1995)

75 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama

Makhmalbaf puts an advertisement in the papers calling for an open casting for his next movie. However when hundreds of people show up, he decides to make a movie about the casting and the ... See full summary »

Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf | Stars: Shaghayeh Djodat, Behzad Dorani, Feizola Gashghai, Maryam Keyhan

Votes: 1,403

6. 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: 13,279

7. To Be and to Have (2002)

Not Rated | 104 min | Documentary, Family

87 Metascore

A documentary portrait of a one-room school in rural France, where the students (ranging in age from 4 to 11) are educated by a single dedicated teacher.

Director: Nicolas Philibert | Stars: Georges Lopez, Alizé, Axel Thouvenin, Guillaume

Votes: 7,171 | Gross: $0.78M

8. 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: 11,560 | Gross: $5.73M

9. Les yeux dans les Bleus (1998 TV Movie)

157 min | Documentary, Sport

This documentary follows the French soccer team on their way to victory in the 1998 World Cup in France. Stéphane Meunier spent the whole time filming the players, the coach and some other ... See full summary »

Director: Stéphane Meunier | Stars: Aimé Jacquet, Didier Deschamps, Fabien Barthez, Laurent Blanc

Votes: 312

10. 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: 5,439

11. The Mystery of Picasso (1956)

PG | 78 min | Documentary, Biography, History

A filmed record of Pablo Picasso painting numerous canvases for the camera, allowing us to see his creative process at work.

Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot | Stars: Pablo Picasso, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Claude Renoir

Votes: 1,733 | Gross: $0.27M

12. Unknown Chaplin (1983– )

156 min | Documentary, Comedy

Using in part rare out-take footage, the film-making methods and techniques of Charles Chaplin are explored.

Stars: James Mason, Hans-Joachim Kulenkampff, Virginia Cherrill, Jackie Coogan

Votes: 471

13. Sweetgrass (2009)

Unrated | 101 min | Documentary, Adventure, Western

80 Metascore

In the summer of 2003, a group of shepherds took a herd of sheep one final time through the Beartooth Mountains of Montana, in the extreme north-west of the United States. It was a journey ... See full summary »

Directors: Ilisa Barbash, Lucien Castaing-Taylor

Votes: 807 | Gross: $0.21M

14. Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (2000 TV Movie)

65 min | Documentary, Adventure, Biography

Werner Herzog returns to the South American jungle with Juliane Koepcke, the German woman who was the sole survivor of a plane crash there in 1971. They find the remains of the plane and recreate her journey out of the jungle.

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Werner Herzog, Juliane Koepcke, Juan Zaplana Ramirez

Votes: 805

15. Filming 'Othello' (1978)

84 min | Documentary

Essay film shot for TV including Orson Welles reflections on Othello close to the Moviola, a chat with Hilton Edwards and Micheál MacLiammóir and fragments of a conversation with the audience in Boston after a screening of the film.

Director: Orson Welles | Stars: Orson Welles, Micheál MacLiammóir, Hilton Edwards, Alan Cholodenko

Votes: 317

16. Cosmos (1980)

TV-PG | 60 min | Documentary

Astronomer Carl Sagan leads us on an engaging guided tour of the various elements and cosmological theories of the universe.

Stars: Carl Sagan, Jaromír Hanzlík, Jonathan Fahn, Alan Belod

Votes: 29,845

17. 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: 53,200 | Gross: $1.61M

19. The Staircase (2004– )

TV-MA | 629 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama

The high-profile murder trial of American novelist Michael Peterson following the death of his wife in 2001.

Stars: Michael Peterson, David Rudolf, Ron Guerette, Tom Maher

Votes: 11,291

20. Place de la République (1974)

94 min | Documentary

Vibrant scenes of individuals' daily life are filmed in Place de la République.

Director: Louis Malle | Star: Louis Malle

Votes: 318

21. Les habitants (2016)

84 min | Documentary

Documentarist Raymond Depardon travels around France and gathers conversations with very different people.

Director: Raymond Depardon

Votes: 119

22. Life Itself (2014)

R | 121 min | Documentary, Biography

87 Metascore

The life and career of the renowned film critic and social commentator, Roger Ebert.

Director: Steve James | Stars: Roger Ebert, Chaz Ebert, Gene Siskel, Martin Scorsese

Votes: 13,880 | Gross: $0.81M

23. 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: 2,093 | Gross: $0.04M

24. Afghan Star (2009)

Unrated | 87 min | Documentary, Music

78 Metascore

A look at how contestants on the a musical contest program "Pop Idol" in Afghanistan risk their lives to appear on the show.

Director: Havana Marking | Stars: Habib Amiri, Setara Hussainzada, Rafi Naabzada, Lima Sahar

Votes: 905 | Gross: $0.10M

25. Fucking Kassovitz (2011 Video)

58 min | Documentary

A making-of of the chaotic production of Mathieu Kassovitz's Babylon A.D. (2008).

Director: François-Régis Jeanne | Stars: Thierry Arbogast, Éric Besnard, Bob Brown, Stephane Ceretti

Votes: 71

26. 13 Days in France (1968)

Not Rated | 112 min | Documentary, Sport

A documentary about the Winter Olympics.

Directors: Claude Lelouch, François Reichenbach | Stars: Peggy Fleming, Jean-Claude Killy, Dalida, Charles de Gaulle

Votes: 80

27. Woodstock (1970)

R | 184 min | Documentary, History, Music

The film chronicle of the legendary 1969 music festival.

Director: Michael Wadleigh | Stars: Joan Baez, Richie Havens, Roger Daltrey, Joe Cocker

Votes: 14,374 | Gross: $50.00M

28. The World at War (1973–1976)

TV-PG | 52 min | Documentary, History, War

A groundbreaking 26-part documentary series narrated by the actor Laurence Olivier about the deadliest conflict in history, World War II.

Stars: Laurence Olivier, Anthony Eden, Averell Harriman, Albert Speer

Votes: 17,433

29. Im Keller (2014)

Not Rated | 81 min | Documentary

68 Metascore

A documentary that reveals what its subjects do in their respective basements.

Director: Ulrich Seidl | Stars: Fritz Lang, Alfreda Klebinger, Manfred Ellinger, Inge Ellinger

Votes: 2,053 | Gross: $0.00M

30. Essai d'ouverture (1988)

15 min | Documentary, Short, Comedy

A Man tries different ways to open a Coca Cola bottle.

Director: Luc Moullet | Stars: Françoise Buraux, Richard Copans, Luc Moullet

Votes: 178

31. Cuadecuc, vampir (1971)

Not Rated | 70 min | Documentary, Horror

An analysis of the construction mechanism for the magic in dominant narrative cinema though the filming of Count Dracula, a commercial film by Jesús Franco.

Director: Pere Portabella | Stars: Christopher Lee, Herbert Lom, Soledad Miranda, Jack Taylor

Votes: 457

32. The Iceman Confesses: Secrets of a Mafia Hitman (2001 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 43 min | Documentary, Crime

Richard Kuklinski was a devoted husband, a loving father...and a ruthless killer. A decade after HBO last visited him in prison, the convicted murderer, who freely admits having whacked ... See full summary »

Director: Arthur Ginsberg | Stars: Mark Musto, Rocco Fazzolari, Richard Kuklinski, Richard Lounello

Votes: 1,053

34. 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: 48,491 | Gross: $2.96M

35. Året gjennom Børfjord (1991)

12 min | Documentary, Short

A portrait of a deserted fisherman's village in Northern Norway called Børfjord - a place with an incredible personality in the middle of a magnificent Arctic nature. The 12 minute short ... See full summary »

Director: Morten Skallerud

Votes: 292

36. 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: 3,910

37. Dying at Grace (2003)

148 min | Documentary

Director Allan King documents the final months of five terminally ill cancer patients at the Toronto Grace Health Centre.

Director: Allan King | Stars: Phyllis Bobbitt, Joyce Bone, Norman Collins, Lloyd Greenway

Votes: 308

38. Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau (2014)

Not Rated | 97 min | Documentary, Adventure

A behind the scenes chronicle of how clash of vision, bad creative decisions, lack of interest and really bad weather plagued the disastrous production of the infamous The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996).

Director: David Gregory | Stars: Richard Stanley, Kier-La Janisse, Michael Gingold, Graham Humphreys

Votes: 2,639

39. Glas (1958)

11 min | Documentary, Short

Documentary about Dutch glass production in the 50s.

Director: Bert Haanstra

Votes: 822

40. Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003)

Not Rated | 169 min | Documentary, History

86 Metascore

A documentary on how Los Angeles has been used and depicted in the movies.

Director: Thom Andersen | Stars: Encke King, Ben Alexander, Jim Backus, Brenda Bakke

Votes: 1,815

42. Disneyland, mon vieux pays natal (2002 TV Movie)

46 min | Documentary

Disneyland reviewed by a true poet of cinema, Arnaud Pallières who narrates a disturbing journey into the simulacrum.

Director: Arnaud des Pallières | Stars: Emile Breton, Isabelle Poudevigne

Votes: 59

43. 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: 57,910 | Gross: $3.29M

44. Les glaneurs et la glaneuse (2000)

Not Rated | 82 min | Documentary

83 Metascore

Varda films and interviews gleaners in France in all forms, from those picking fields after the harvest to those scouring the dumpsters of Paris.

Director: Agnès Varda | Stars: François Wertheimer, Agnès Varda, Bodan Litnanski

Votes: 4,742 | Gross: $0.15M

45. An Evening with Kevin Smith (2002 Video)

Not Rated | 224 min | Comedy, Documentary

Kevin Smith interacts in Q&A sessions throughout various college stops in the USA.

Director: J.M. Kenny | Stars: Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Scott Mosier, Anthony Snitzer

Votes: 5,910

46. Rize (2005)

PG-13 | 86 min | Documentary, Music

74 Metascore

Rize chronicles a dance movement that rises out of South Central Los Angeles with roots in clowning and street youth culture.

Director: David LaChapelle | Stars: Tommy the Clown, Larry Berry, Dragon, Jassy Marie

Votes: 2,983 | Gross: $3.28M

47. Blind (1987)

132 min | Documentary

Shows the educational programs and daily life of students in kindergarten through the 12th grade at the Alabama School for the Blind. The School is organized around the effort to educate ... See full summary »

Director: Frederick Wiseman

Votes: 65

48. In film nist (2011)

Not Rated | 75 min | Documentary

90 Metascore

It's been months since Jafar Panahi, stuck in jail, has been awaiting a verdict by the appeals court. By depicting a day in his life, Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb try to portray the deprivations looming in contemporary Iranian cinema.

Directors: Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, Jafar Panahi | Stars: Jafar Panahi, Igi, Mrs. Gheirat, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb

Votes: 4,226 | Gross: $0.08M

49. Searching for Sugar Man (2012)

PG-13 | 86 min | Documentary, Biography, Music