Best documentaries

by magek | created - 02 Dec 2013 | updated - 23 Oct 2016 | 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: 1,465

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: Slobodan Milosevic, Franjo Tudjman, Borisav Jovic, Momir Bulatovic

Votes: 803

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: 1,038

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: 829

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: 2,302

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: 11,214 | Gross: $1.60M

8. 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: 31,030 | Gross: $0.49M

9. Salesman (1969)

G | 85 min | Documentary, Drama

Four relentless door-to-door salesmen deal with constant rejection, homesickness and inevitable burnout as they go across the country selling very expensive bibles to low-income Catholic families.

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

Votes: 4,172

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: 3,599

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: Norman Yarborough, Houston Elmore, Phil Sparks, John Corcoran

Votes: 4,251

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: 48,242 | 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, Justo González

Votes: 9,496 | 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, Hirohito

Votes: 1,358

15. Pumping Iron (1977)

PG | 86 min | Documentary, Sport

72 Metascore

From Gold's Gym in Venice Beach California to the showdown in Pretoria, amateur and professional bodybuilders prepare for the 1975 Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe contests in this ... See full summary »

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

Votes: 19,920

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: 2,124

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: 205

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: 33,250 | 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: 1,669 | 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: 4,663

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: 24,771 | 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: 5,540 | 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: 1,290 | Gross: $0.03M

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: 4,229

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: 3,691

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: Robert Kavesh, Friedrich von Hayek, Philip Mirowski, Alain Enthoven

Votes: 1,568

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: 3,250

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: 2,257 | 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: 1,242

31. A Moment of Innocence (1996)

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: 2,636 | 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: 7,222 | 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: 22,329 | 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: 1,168

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: 133

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: 10,811

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: 15,523

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: 1,548

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: 3,554

40. Dom kallar oss mods (1968)

100 min | Documentary

The first in Stefan Jarl's Mods Trilogy, the film documents the life of two teenagers, Kenta and Stoffe. With interviews from the two boys and their friends about their hedonistic lifestyle... See full summary »

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

Votes: 1,290

41. Tokyo Trial (1983)

277 min | Documentary, War

Documentary covering the Tokyo trials from 1946-48

Director: Masaki Kobayashi | Star: Kei Satô

Votes: 156

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: 410

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: 1,411

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: 11,850 | Gross: $1.68M

46. Huey Long (1985)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary, Biography

Ken Burns' portrait of Louisiana governor/U.S. senator Huey Long.

Director: Ken Burns | Stars: Huey Long, Russell Long, David McCullough, Jennings Randolph

Votes: 387

47. Afrique 50 (1950)

17 min | Documentary, Short

Documentary about the living conditions in a small Ivorian village during French colonization.

Director: René Vautier | Star: René Vautier

Votes: 210

48. Jodorowsky's Dune (2013)

PG-13 | 90 min | Documentary

79 Metascore

The story of cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky's ambitious but ultimately doomed film adaptation of the seminal science fiction novel.

Director: Frank Pavich | Stars: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Michel Seydoux, H.R. Giger, Chris Foss

Votes: 18,960 | Gross: $0.65M

49. The Murder Detectives (2015– )

Documentary, Crime

Filmed in a documentary style, this UK Police TV Series deals with detectives handling murders.

Votes: 193