Best documentaries

by magek | created - 02 Dec 2013 | updated - 3 weeks ago | Public

In no particular order.

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1. General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait (1974)

Not Rated | 92 min | Documentary

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

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

Votes: 1,708

2. The Death of Yugoslavia (1995– )

50 min | Documentary, History

This captivate documentary covers the struggles of the Yugoslavian people during the collapse of their country, and the subsequent wars to finally find hope with the signing of the Final Peace Accords.

Stars: Robin Ellis, Slobodan Milosevic, Franjo Tudjman, Borisav Jovic

Votes: 953

3. The Battle of Chile: Part I (1975)

Not Rated | 191 min | Documentary

The chronicle of the political tension in Chile in 1973 and of the violent counter revolution against the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende.

Director: Patricio Guzmán | Stars: Salvador Allende, Abilio Fernández

Votes: 1,188

4. The Battle of Chile: Part II (1976)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary

Taking place during the Chilean Coup d'état in 1973, this film opens with the attempted military coup of June 1973, which is put down by troops loyal to the government. The left is divided ... See full summary »

Director: Patricio Guzmán | Stars: Salvador Allende, Carlos Altamirano, Fernando Castillo, Luis Corvalán

Votes: 948

5. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (2003)

Unrated | 74 min | Documentary

81 Metascore

In April 2002, an Irish film crew is making a documentary about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, when a coup from the opposition is made.

Directors: Kim Bartley, Donnacha O'Briain | Stars: Hugo Chávez, Pedro Carmona, Jesse Helms, Colin Powell

Votes: 2,428

6. The Betrayed (1995)

79 min | Documentary

Add a Plot

Director: Clive Gordon

Votes: 19

7. 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: 12,292 | Gross: $1.60M

8. The Act of Killing (2012)

Not Rated | 117 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

91 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: 34,825 | Gross: $0.49M

9. Salesman (1969)

G | 91 min | Documentary, Drama

80 Metascore

Four dogged door-to-door Bible salesmen travel from Boston to Florida on a seemingly futile quest to sell luxury editions of the Good Book to working-class Catholics.

Directors: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin | Stars: Paul Brennan, Charles McDevitt, James Baker, Raymond Martos

Votes: 4,685

10. The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011)

Not Rated | 60 min | Documentary, History

A comprehensive history of the medium and art of motion pictures.

Stars: Mark Cousins, Juan Diego Botto, Aleksandr Sokurov, Norman Lloyd

Votes: 4,022

11. Harlan County U.S.A. (1976)

PG | 103 min | Documentary

80 Metascore

A filmed account of a bitterly violent miner strike.

Director: Barbara Kopple | Stars: John L. Lewis, Carl Horn, Norman Yarborough, Logan Patterson

Votes: 4,957

12. 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: 52,662 | Gross: $3.17M

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, Eva Mattes

Votes: 10,309 | Gross: $0.10M

14. Tokyo Olympiad (1965)

Not Rated | 170 min | Documentary, Sport

Kon Ichikawa examines the beauty and rich drama on display at the 1964 Summer Games in Tokyo, creating a record of observations that range from the expansive to the intimate.

Director: Kon Ichikawa | Stars: Abebe Bikila, Jack Douglas, Joe Frazier, Hirohito

Votes: 1,601

15. Pumping Iron (1977)

PG | 86 min | Documentary, Sport

72 Metascore

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno face off in a no-holds-barred competition for the title of Mr. Olympia in this critically-acclaimed film that made Schwarzenegger a household name.

Directors: George Butler, Robert Fiore | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Matty Ferrigno, Victoria Ferrigno

Votes: 21,125

16. Kon-Tiki (1950)

Approved | 77 min | Documentary

A documentary about the Kon-Tiki expedition of the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl.

Director: Thor Heyerdahl | Stars: Thor Heyerdahl, Herman Watzinger, Erik Hesselberg, Knut Haugland

Votes: 2,327

17. La vie est à nous (1936)

66 min | Drama, History

A propaganda film of the communist party of France, showing who the comrades help the proletarian people against the capitalists. It also features propagandistic speeches of leading members... See full summary »

Directors: Jacques Becker, Jacques B. Brunius, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jean-Paul Le Chanois, Maurice Lime, Pierre Unik, André Zwoboda, Jean Renoir | Stars: Jean Dasté, Jacques B. Brunius, Simone Guisin, Teddy Michaud

Votes: 226

18. 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: 34,572 | Gross: $0.68M

19. The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2011)

Not Rated | 100 min | Documentary, History

73 Metascore

Footage shot by a group of Swedish journalists documenting the Black Power Movement in the United States is edited together by a contemporary Swedish filmmaker.

Director: Göran Olsson | Stars: Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale, Abiodun Oyewole

Votes: 2,091 | Gross: $0.26M

20. Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (2006)

86 min | Documentary, History

79 Metascore

Featuring never-before-seen footage, this documentary delivers a startling new look at the Peoples Temple, headed by preacher Jim Jones who, in 1978, led more than 900 members to Guyana, where he orchestrated a mass suicide via tainted punch.

Director: Stanley Nelson | Stars: Rebecca Moore, Janet Shular, Tim Carter, Stanley Clayton

Votes: 4,975

21. 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: 25,532 | Gross: $6.71M

22. The Yes Men (2003)

R | 83 min | Documentary, Comedy

68 Metascore

Anti-corporate activists travel from conference to conference, impersonating member of the World Trade Organization.

Directors: Dan Ollman, Sarah Price, Chris Smith | Stars: Andreas Bichlbauer, Mike Bonanno, Andy Bichlbaum, Michael Moore

Votes: 5,557 | Gross: $0.20M

23. The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (2010)

Not Rated | 180 min | Documentary, Biography, History

87 Metascore

The film explores the image of the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu using unknown official footage from the Romanian National Television and National Film Archives.

Director: Andrei Ujica | Stars: Nicolae Ceausescu, Elena Ceausescu, Stefan Andrei, Gheorghe Apostol

Votes: 1,354 | Gross: $0.03M

24. Videogramme einer Revolution (1992)

106 min | Documentary, History, War

This documentary uses news footage and amateur video to paint a vivid picture of Romania's 1989 revolution and the fall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

Directors: Harun Farocki, Andrei Ujica | Stars: Ion Caramitru, Elena Ceausescu, Nicolae Ceausescu, Mircea Dinescu

Votes: 415

25. The Century of the Self (2002)

235 min | Documentary

80 Metascore

A documentary about the rise of psychoanalysis as a powerful means of persuasion for both governments and corporations.

Stars: Adam Curtis, Ann Bernays, Robert Reich, Alfred Pritz

Votes: 4,833

26. The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear (2004)

157 min | Documentary, History

78 Metascore

A series of three documentaries about the use of fear for political gain.

Stars: Gilles Kepel, Melvin Goodman, Stephen Holmes, William Kristol

Votes: 3,953

27. The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom (2007)

180 min | Documentary

Individual freedom is the dream of our age. It's what our leaders promise to give us, it defines how we think of ourselves and, repeatedly, we have gone to war to impose freedom around the ... See full synopsis »

Stars: James M. Buchanan, Paul McHugh, Philip Mirowski, John Nash

Votes: 1,713

28. The Sorrow and the Pity (1969)

PG | 251 min | Documentary, History, War

An in-depth exploration of the various reactions by the French people to the Vichy government's acceptance of Nazi invasion.

Director: Marcel Ophüls | Stars: Georges Bidault, Matthäus Bleibinger, Charles Braun, Maurice Buckmaster

Votes: 3,541

29. Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country (2008)

Unrated | 84 min | Documentary, History, News

82 Metascore

Using smuggled footage, this documentary tells the story of the 2007 protests in Burma by thousands of monks.

Director: Anders Østergaard | Stars: George W. Bush, Ko Muang, Aung San Suu Kyi

Votes: 2,325 | Gross: $0.05M

30. The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On (1987)

Not Rated | 122 min | Documentary, War

A documentary following Kenzo Okuzaki, a 62-year-old WW2 veteran notorious for his protests against Emperor Hirohito, as he tries to expose the needless executions of two Japanese soldiers during the war.

Director: Kazuo Hara | Stars: Kenzo Okuzaki, Riichi Aikawa, Masaichi Hamaguchi, Toshio Hara

Votes: 1,526

31. A Moment of Innocence (1996)

Not Rated | 78 min | Comedy, Drama

70 Metascore

A semi-autobiographical account of Makmahlbaf's experience as a teenager when, as a 17-year-old, he stabbed a policeman at a protest rally. Two decades later, he tracks down the policeman he injured in an attempt to make amends.

Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf | Stars: Mirhadi Tayebi, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Ali Bakhsi, Ammar Tafti Dehghan

Votes: 3,277 | Gross: $0.04M

32. 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: 7,739 | Gross: $0.78M

33. 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: 23,849 | Gross: $3.12M

34. Antonio Gaudí (1984)

Not Rated | 72 min | Documentary

The work of Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí, as seen by Japanese New Wave director Hiroshi Teshigahara.

Director: Hiroshi Teshigahara | Stars: Isidro Puig Boada, Antoni Gaudí, Seiji Miyaguchi

Votes: 1,367

35. Sikkim (1971)

55 min | Documentary

An educational and controversial look into the Kingdom of Sikkim through the eyes of the greatest film maker from the Indian Sub-Continent, Satyajit Ray

Director: Satyajit Ray | Star: Satyajit Ray

Votes: 160

36. The Civil War (1990)

TV-14 | 680 min | Documentary, History, War

A comprehensive survey of the American Civil War.

Stars: David McCullough, Sam Waterston, Julie Harris, Jason Robards

Votes: 13,396

37. Night and Fog (1956)

Not Rated | 32 min | Documentary, Short, History

The history of Nazi Germany's death camps of the Final Solution and the hellish world of dehumanization and death contained inside.

Director: Alain Resnais | Stars: Michel Bouquet, Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Hitler

Votes: 17,005

38. High School (1968)

Not Rated | 75 min | Documentary

Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman takes us inside Northeast High School as a fly on the wall to observe the teachers and how they interact with the students.

Director: Frederick Wiseman

Votes: 1,728

39. Titicut Follies (1967)

Unrated | 84 min | Documentary

Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman takes us inside the Massachusetts Correctional Institution Bridgewater where people stay trapped in their madness.

Director: Frederick Wiseman

Votes: 4,041

40. They Call Us Misfits (1968)

100 min | Documentary

The first entry in a series of films about the lives of social misfits Kenneth 'Kenta' Gustafsson and Gustav 'Stoffe' Svensson.

Directors: Stefan Jarl, Jan Lindqvist | Stars: Kenneth 'Kenta' Gustafsson, Gustav 'Stoffe' Svensson, Stefan Jarl, Pundar-Bosse

Votes: 1,395

41. Tokyo Trial (1983)

277 min | Documentary, War

Documentary covering the Tokyo trials from 1946-48

Director: Masaki Kobayashi | Star: Kei Satô

Votes: 177

43. Point of Order! (1964)

Not Rated | 97 min | Documentary

Point of Order is compiled from TV footage of the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings, in which the Army accused Senator McCarthy of improperly pressuring the Army for special privileges for ... See full summary »

Director: Emile de Antonio | Stars: Roy M. Cohn, Joseph McCarthy, John L. McClellan, Karl E. Mundt

Votes: 450

44. In the Year of the Pig (1968)

Not Rated | 103 min | Documentary, War

A documentary chronicling the background to, and history of, the Vietnam War.

Director: Emile de Antonio | Stars: Harry S. Ashmore, Daniel Berrigan, Joseph Buttinger, William R. Corson

Votes: 1,581

45. Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006)

PG | 92 min | Documentary

70 Metascore

A documentary that investigates the birth and death of the electric car, as well as the role of renewable energy and sustainable living in the future.

Director: Chris Paine | Stars: Martin Sheen, Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson, Reverend Gadget

Votes: 12,094 | Gross: $1.68M

46. Huey Long (1985)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary, Biography