Favorite Documentaries

by gulvalp | created - 29 Nov 2012 | updated - 08 Dec 2013 | 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: 46,791 | Gross: $2.96M

2. 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: 21,227 | Gross: $3.12M

3. Baraka (1992)

Not Rated | 96 min | Documentary

A collection of expertly photographed scenes of human life and religion.

Director: Ron Fricke

Votes: 31,310 | Gross: $1.25M

4. Grey Gardens (1975)

PG | 94 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama

An old mother and her middle-aged daughter, the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy, live their eccentric lives in a filthy, decaying mansion in East Hampton.

Directors: Ellen Hovde, Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Muffie Meyer | Stars: Edith Bouvier Beale, Edith 'Little Edie' Bouvier Beale, Brooks Hyers

Votes: 9,768 | Gross: $0.03M

5. F for Fake (1973)

PG | 89 min | Documentary

A documentary about fraud and fakery.

Directors: Orson Welles, Gary Graver, Oja Kodar, François Reichenbach | Stars: Orson Welles, Oja Kodar, François Reichenbach, Elmyr de Hory

Votes: 12,089

6. 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: 29,807 | Gross: $4.58M

7. The Nazis: A Warning from History (1997– )

292 min | Documentary, History, War

An examination of how a cultured people could have allowed Hitler's rise to power.

Stars: Samuel West, Adolf Buchner, Jutta Rüdiger, Günther Ruschin

Votes: 1,374

8. Buena Vista Social Club (1999)

G | 105 min | Documentary, Music

81 Metascore

Aging Cuban musicians whose talents had been virtually forgotten following Castro's takeover of Cuba, are brought out of retirement by Ry Cooder, who travelled to Havana in order to bring the musicians together, resulting in triumphant performances of extraordinary music, and resurrecting the musicians' careers.

Director: Wim Wenders | Stars: Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Rubén González, Eliades Ochoa

Votes: 14,645 | Gross: $7.00M

9. Nanking (2007)

R | 88 min | Biography, History, War

76 Metascore

Through readings of historical account by actors and the testimony of survivors, the events of the Nanjing Massacre are recounted.

Directors: Bill Guttentag, Dan Sturman | Stars: Hugo Armstrong, Rosalind Chao, Stephen Dorff, John Getz

Votes: 3,137 | Gross: $0.16M

10. Africa: Blood and Guts (1966)

R | 122 min | Documentary

The cruel acts of animal poaching and violence, executions, and tribal slaughtering, all taking place on the African continent.

Directors: Gualtiero Jacopetti, Franco Prosperi | Stars: Sergio Rossi, Gualtiero Jacopetti, Julius Nyerere, Moise Tshombe

Votes: 1,063

11. 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: 11,402 | Gross: $5.73M

12. 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: 24,581 | Gross: $0.90M

13. Examined Life (2008)

Not Rated | 87 min | Documentary

64 Metascore

Examined Life pulls philosophy out of academic journals and classrooms, and puts it back on the streets. In Examined Life, filmmaker Astra Taylor accompanies some of today's most ... See full summary »

Director: Astra Taylor | Stars: K. Anthony Appiah, Judith Butler, Michael Hardt, Martha Nussbaum

Votes: 1,399 | Gross: $0.12M

14. Dark Days (2000)

Not Rated | 82 min | Documentary

75 Metascore

A cinematic portrait of the homeless population who live permanently in the underground tunnels of New York City.

Director: Marc Singer | Star: Marc Singer

Votes: 5,887 | Gross: $0.43M

15. War Photographer (2001)

96 min | Documentary, War

79 Metascore

Documentary about war photographer James Nachtwey, considered by many the greatest war photographer ever.

Director: Christian Frei | Stars: James Nachtwey, Christiane Amanpour, Hans-Hermann Klare, Christiane Breustedt

Votes: 3,579

16. March of the Penguins (2005)

G | 80 min | Documentary, Family

79 Metascore

In the Antarctic, every March since the beginning of time, the quest begins to find the perfect mate and start a family.

Director: Luc Jacquet | Stars: Morgan Freeman, Charles Berling, Romane Bohringer, Jules Sitruk

Votes: 51,300 | Gross: $77.44M

17. Lake of Fire (2006)

Unrated | 152 min | Documentary

83 Metascore

A graphic documentary on both sides of the abortion debate.

Director: Tony Kaye | Stars: Noam Chomsky, Bill Baird, Flip Benham, Dallas Blanchard

Votes: 2,286 | Gross: $0.02M

18. 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: 46,060 | Gross: $3.17M

19. The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003)

PG-13 | 107 min | Documentary, Biography, History

87 Metascore

The story of America as seen through the eyes of the former Secretary of Defense under President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara.

Director: Errol Morris | Stars: Robert McNamara, John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro, Richard Nixon

Votes: 20,791 | Gross: $4.19M

20. 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: 9,015 | Gross: $30.58M

21. 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: 43,632 | Gross: $0.86M

22. 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: 1,513

23. 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: 18,484 | Gross: $1.21M

24. 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: 24,065 | Gross: $6.71M

25. Memoria del saqueo (2004)

120 min | Documentary

After the fall of the military dictatorship in 1983, successive democratic governments launched a series of reforms purporting to turn Argentina into the world's most liberal and prosperous... See full summary »

Director: Fernando E. Solanas | Stars: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Fernando E. Solanas, Ronnie Wood

Votes: 871

26. 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: 54,948 | Gross: $13.00M

27. One Day in September (1999)

R | 94 min | Documentary, History, Sport

82 Metascore

The Palestinian terrorist group Black September holds Israeli athletes hostage at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich.

Director: Kevin Macdonald | Stars: Michael Douglas, Ankie Spitzer, Jamal Al Gashey, Gerald Seymour

Votes: 5,243 | Gross: $0.16M

28. 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: 5,424 | Gross: $0.10M

29. God Grew Tired of Us (2006)

PG | 89 min | Documentary

72 Metascore

Four boys from Sudan embark on a journey to America after years of wandering Sub-Saharan Africa in search of safety.

Directors: Christopher Dillon Quinn, Tommy Walker | Stars: Panther Bior, John Bul Dau, Nicole Kidman, Daniel Abol Pach

Votes: 2,603 | Gross: $0.28M

30. Paragraph 175 (2000)

Not Rated | 81 min | Documentary, History, Romance

85 Metascore

Historian Klaus Müller interviews survivors of the Nazi persecution of homosexuals because of the German Penal Code of 1871, Paragraph 175.

Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman | Stars: Rupert Everett, Klaus Müller, Karl Gorath, Pierre Seel

Votes: 1,693 | Gross: $0.07M

31. General Idi Amin Dada (1974)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary

A documentary on the military dictator of Africa's Uganda.

Director: Barbet Schroeder | Stars: Idi Amin, Fidel Castro, Golda Meir

Votes: 1,365

32. 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: 3,779

33. 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: 5,126

34. Encounters at the End of the World (2007)

G | 99 min | Documentary

80 Metascore

Film-maker Werner Herzog travels to the McMurdo Station in Antarctica, looking to capture the continent's beauty and investigate the characters living there.

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Werner Herzog, Scott Rowland, Stefan Pashov, Doug MacAyeal

Votes: 15,400 | Gross: $0.94M

35. Scared Straight! (1978)

96 min | Crime, Documentary

The filmed depiction of a program where convicts tell troubled kids about the horrors of prison life.

Director: Arnold Shapiro | Stars: Peter Falk, Doug Cronin

Votes: 675

36. Nanook of the North (1922)

Not Rated | 78 min | Documentary

In this silent predecessor to the modern documentary, film-maker Robert J. Flaherty spends one year following the lives of Nanook and his family, Inuits living in the Arctic Circle.

Director: Robert J. Flaherty | Stars: Allakariallak, Nyla, Cunayou, Allegoo

Votes: 8,953

37. Auschwitz: The Nazis and the 'Final Solution' (2005)

285 min | Documentary, History, War

The history of the Final Solution phase of the Nazi Holocaust, particularly with the most infamous of the death camps.

Stars: Samuel West, Linda Ellerbee, Gert Heidenreich, Linda Hunt

Votes: 3,527