Documentaries and other general detritus

by GruesomeTwosome | created - 2 weeks ago | updated - 2 weeks ago | Public

Ranked list of my favorite documentary films.

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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: 47,505 | Gross: $3.17M

2. Zapruder Film of Kennedy Assassination (1963)

1 min | Documentary, Short, Crime

The home movie footage shot by Abraham Zapruder that caught the assassination of the U.S. President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

Director: Abraham Zapruder | Stars: Charles Brehm, Howard Brennan, John Connally, Nellie Connally

Votes: 1,967

3. Häxan (1922)

Not Rated | 91 min | Documentary, Fantasy, Horror

Fictionalized documentary showing the evolution of witchcraft, from its pagan roots to its confusion with hysteria in modern Europe.

Director: Benjamin Christensen | Stars: Benjamin Christensen, Elisabeth Christensen, Maren Pedersen, Clara Pontoppidan

Votes: 9,872

4. O.J.: Made in America (2016)

TV-MA | 467 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

A chronicle of the rise and fall of O.J. Simpson, whose high-profile murder trial exposed the extent of American racial tensions, revealing a fractured and divided nation.

Director: Ezra Edelman | Stars: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mike Albanese, Muhammad Ali, Marcus Allen

Votes: 14,396

5. 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: 21,977 | Gross: $3.12M

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: 133,564 | Gross: $21.24M

7. Blood of the Beasts (1949)

22 min | Documentary, Short

Bucolic scenes from the outskirts of Paris are contrasted with stark footage from slaughterhouses.

Director: Georges Franju | Stars: Georges Hubert, Nicole Ladmiral, Alfred Macquart, Maurice Griselle

Votes: 1,968

8. 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: 4,835 | Gross: $0.03M

9. 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: 31,198 | Gross: $1.72M

10. 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: 1,818

11. Gadajace glowy (1980)

16 min | Documentary, Short

People of different age, profession and social status answer two simple questions: who they are and what they want from life.

Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski

Votes: 2,117

12. Roger & Me (1989)

R | 91 min | Documentary

70 Metascore

Director Michael Moore pursues GM CEO Roger B. Smith to confront him about the harm he did to Flint, Michigan with his massive downsizing.

Director: Michael Moore | Stars: Michael Moore, Roger B. Smith, Rhonda Britton, Fred Ross

Votes: 24,559 | Gross: $6.71M

13. 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: 21,909 | Gross: $7.83M

14. 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: 13,293

15. 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: 8,039

16. The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015)

TV-14 | 279 min | Documentary, Crime

Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki examines the complicated life of reclusive real estate icon Robert Durst, the key suspect in a series of unsolved crimes.

Stars: Robert Durst, Andrew Jarecki, Gary Napoli, Debra Kay Anderson

Votes: 31,851

17. Planet Earth (2006)

TV-G | 533 min | Documentary

Emmy Award-winning, 11 episodes, five years in the making, the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC, and the first to be filmed in high definition.

Stars: David Attenborough, Sigourney Weaver, Huw Cordey, Doug Allan

Votes: 141,485

18. Planet Earth II (2016)

TV-G | 360 min | Documentary

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

Star: David Attenborough

Votes: 63,211

19. Daybreak Express (1953)

5 min | Documentary, Short, Music

Set to a classic Duke Ellington recording "Daybreak Express", this is a five-minute short of the soon-to-be-demolished Third Avenue elevated subway station in New York City.

Director: D.A. Pennebaker

Votes: 727

20. 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: 16,484 | Gross: $3.17M

21. The Act of Killing (2012)

Not Rated | 117 min | Documentary, Crime

90 Metascore

A documentary which challenges former Indonesian death-squad leaders to reenact their mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.

Directors: Joshua Oppenheimer, Anonymous, Christine Cynn | Stars: Anwar Congo, Herman Koto, Syamsul Arifin, Ibrahim Sinik

Votes: 30,305 | Gross: $0.49M

22. 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: 6,963

23. De Palma (2015)

R | 110 min | Documentary, Biography

83 Metascore

A documentary about writer and director Brian De Palma.

Directors: Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow | Star: Brian De Palma

Votes: 3,859 | Gross: $0.16M

24. For All Mankind (1989)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary, History

An in-depth look at various NASA moon landing missions, starting with Apollo 8.

Director: Al Reinert | Stars: Jim Lovell, Ken Mattingly, Russell Schweickart, Eugene Cernan

Votes: 4,098 | Gross: $0.77M

25. 4 Little Girls (1997)

TV-14 | 102 min | Documentary, History

89 Metascore

A documentary of the notorious racial terrorist bombing of an African American church during the Civil Rights Movement.

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Maxine McNair, Walter Cronkite, Chris McNair, Fred Lee Shuttlesworth

Votes: 2,420 | Gross: $0.13M

26. Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015)

TV-MA | 145 min | Documentary, Animation, Biography

83 Metascore

An authorized documentary on the late musician Kurt Cobain, from his early days in Aberdeen, Washington to his success and downfall with the grunge band Nirvana.

Director: Brett Morgen | Stars: Aaron Burckhard, Chad Channing, Don Cobain, Jenny Cobain

Votes: 25,538

27. Goin' Down to South Park (1999 TV Movie)

51 min | Comedy, Documentary

A mockumentary which covers the making of the show South Park in a fictional fashion, apparently spoofing similar such shows, with the creators pretending to be arrogant, obnoxious jerks ... See full summary »

Director: Richard Spiller | Stars: Mary Kay Bergman, Martin Cendreda, Giancarlo Ganziano, Isaac Hayes

Votes: 208

28. The Salt of the Earth (2014)

PG-13 | 110 min | Documentary, Biography, History

83 Metascore

The life and work of photographer Sebastião Salgado, who has spent forty years documenting deprived societies in hidden corners of the world.

Directors: Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, Wim Wenders | Stars: Sebastião Salgado, Wim Wenders, Lélia Wanick Salgado, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado

Votes: 16,757 | Gross: $1.34M

29. The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)

Not Rated | 100 min | Documentary, History, Music

93 Metascore

The Los Angeles punk music scene circa 1980 is the focus of this film. With Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Discipline, Circle Jerks, Fear, Germs, and X.

Director: Penelope Spheeris | Stars: Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Discipline, Circle Jerks

Votes: 2,870

30. Citizenfour (2014)

R | 114 min | Documentary, Biography

88 Metascore

A documentarian and a reporter travel to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with Edward Snowden.

Director: Laura Poitras | Stars: Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, William Binney, Jacob Appelbaum

Votes: 47,041 | Gross: $2.80M

31. Four Seasons (1975)

29 min | Documentary, Short

The last collaboration of Artavazd Peleshian and cinematographer Mikhail Vartanov is a film-essay about Armenia's shepherds, about the contradiction and the harmony between man and nature, scored to Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

Director: Artavazd Peleshian

Votes: 639

32. Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015)

PG-13 | 79 min | Documentary

79 Metascore

Filmmakers discuss how Francois Truffaut's 1966 book "Cinema According to Hitchcock" influenced their work.

Director: Kent Jones | Stars: Mathieu Amalric, Wes Anderson, Peter Bogdanovich, David Fincher

Votes: 4,787 | Gross: $0.30M

33. Blackfish (2013)

PG-13 | 83 min | Documentary, Drama

83 Metascore

A documentary following the controversial captivity of killer whales, and its dangers for both humans and whales.

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite | Stars: Tilikum, Dave Duffus, Samantha Berg, Dean Gomersall

Votes: 55,389 | Gross: $2.06M

34. Weiner (2016)

R | 96 min | Documentary

84 Metascore

An examination of disgraced New York Congressman Anthony Weiner's mayoral campaign and today's political landscape.

Directors: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg | Stars: Anthony Weiner, Huma Abedin, Jordan Zain Weiner, Barbara Morgan

Votes: 8,831 | Gross: $1.61M

35. Lenny Cooke (2013)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary, Biography, Drama

70 Metascore

Professional sports is known as a true meritocracy, a field in which the cream really does rise to the top, as there's simply too much money at stake to operate in any other fashion. In ... See full summary »

Directors: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie | Star: Lenny Cooke

Votes: 338

36. Finding Vivian Maier (2013)

Not Rated | 83 min | Documentary, Biography, Mystery

75 Metascore

A documentary on the late Vivian Maier, a nanny whose previously unknown cache of 100,000 photographs earned her a posthumous reputation as one of the most accomplished street photographers.

Directors: John Maloof, Charlie Siskel | Stars: Vivian Maier, John Maloof, Daniel Arnaud, Simon Amédé

Votes: 11,744 | Gross: $1.51M

37. The Central Park Five (2012)

Not Rated | 119 min | Documentary, Crime, History

79 Metascore

A documentary that examines the 1989 case of five black and Latino teenagers who were convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park. After having spent between 6 and 13 years each in prison, a serial rapist confessed to the crime.

Directors: Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon | Stars: Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Kharey Wise, Raymond Santana

Votes: 5,758 | Gross: $0.27M

38. Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (2001)

Not Rated | 142 min | Documentary, Biography

The career and life of Stanley Kubrick is explored through pictures, clips from his films, his old home movies, comments from his colleagues and a narration by Tom Cruise.

Director: Jan Harlan | Stars: Katharina Kubrick, Malcolm McDowell, Stanley Kubrick, Barbara Kroner

Votes: 9,275

39. Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief (2015)

Not Rated | 119 min | Documentary

80 Metascore

A documentary looking at the inner-workings of the Church of Scientology.

Director: Alex Gibney | Stars: Paul Haggis, Jason Beghe, Spanky Taylor, David Miscavige

Votes: 33,521

40. 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: 13,884 | Gross: $0.81M

41. Stories We Tell (2012)

PG-13 | 108 min | Documentary

91 Metascore

A film that excavates layers of myth and memory to find the elusive truth at the core of a family of storytellers.

Director: Sarah Polley | Stars: Michael Polley, John Buchan, Mark Polley, Joanna Polley

Votes: 11,045 | Gross: $1.60M

42. 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: 19,435 | Gross: $1.21M

43. A Brief History of Time (1991)

G | 80 min | Documentary, Biography

78 Metascore

A film about the life and work of the cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, who despite his near total paralysis, was one of the great minds of all time.

Director: Errol Morris | Stars: Stephen Hawking, Isobel Hawking, Janet Humphrey, Mary Hawking

Votes: 4,703 | Gross: $2.28M

44. Tales of the Grim Sleeper (2014)

TV-MA | 110 min | Documentary, Crime

85 Metascore

Nick Broomfield digs into the case of the notorious serial killer known as the Grim Sleeper, who terrorized South Central Los Angeles over a span of twenty-five years.

Directors: Nick Broomfield, Barney Broomfield, Marc Hoeferlin | Stars: Nick Broomfield, Lonnie David Franklin Jr., Donna, Steve

Votes: 2,294

45. This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)

Unrated | 98 min | Documentary

75 Metascore

Kirby Dick's exposé about the American movie ratings board.

Director: Kirby Dick | Stars: Kirby Dick, Kimberly Peirce, Darren Aronofsky, Atom Egoyan

Votes: 26,576 | Gross: $0.30M

46. Powaqqatsi (1988)

G | 99 min | Documentary, Music

An exploration of technologically developing nations and the effect the transition to Western-style modernization has had on them.

Director: Godfrey Reggio | Stars: Christie Brinkley, David Brinkley, Pope John Paul II, Dan Rather

Votes: 6,971 | Gross: $0.59M

47. Chronos (1985)

Not Rated | 43 min | Documentary

Carefully picked scenes of nature and civilization are viewed at high speed using time-lapse cinematography in an effort to demonstrate the history of various regions.

Director: Ron Fricke

Votes: 2,837

48. Primary (1960)

Not Rated | 60 min | Documentary

Cinéma vérité feature that follows presidential hopefuls John F. Kennedy and Hubert H. Humphrey during the 1960 Wisconsin primary.

Director: Robert Drew | Stars: Robert Drew, Hubert H. Humphrey, Muriel Buck Humphrey, Joseph Julian

Votes: 941

49. Dworzec (1980)

14 min | Documentary, Short