Top 20 Documentary Films

by Cleiford | created - 22 Dec 2013 | updated - 22 Dec 2013 | Public
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1. Dont Look Back (1967)

Not Rated | 96 min | Documentary, Music

Documentary covering Bob Dylan's 1965 tour of England, which includes appearances by Joan Baez and Donovan.

Director: D.A. Pennebaker | Stars: Bob Dylan, Albert Grossman, Bob Neuwirth, Joan Baez

Votes: 7,077

2. 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: 12,586

3. The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)

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

77 Metascore

Daniel Johnston, manic-depressive genius singer/songwriter/artist is revealed in this portrait of madness, creativity and love.

Director: Jeff Feuerzeig | Stars: Daniel Johnston, Mabel Johnston, Bill Johnston, Laurie Allen

Votes: 8,012 | Gross: $0.33M

4. 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: 46,960 | Gross: $2.96M

5. 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: 56,526 | Gross: $3.29M

6. The Last Waltz (1978)

PG | 117 min | Documentary, Music

88 Metascore

A film account and presentation of the final concert of The Band.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Robbie Robertson, Muddy Waters, Neil Young, Van Morrison

Votes: 13,952 | Gross: $0.32M

7. 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: 43,718 | Gross: $0.86M

8. Searching for Sugar Man (2012)

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

79 Metascore

Two South Africans set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock n roller, Rodriguez.

Director: Malik Bendjelloul | Stars: Rodriguez, Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman, Dennis Coffey, Mike Theodore

Votes: 55,554 | Gross: $3.97M

9. 102 Minutes That Changed America (2008 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 102 min | Documentary, History

The morning of September 11, 2001 is shown through multiple video cameras in New York City, from the moment the first WTC tower is hit until after both towers collapse.

Directors: Nicole Rittenmeyer, Seth Skundrick | Stars: George W. Bush, Joe Napolitano, Kelly Edwards

Votes: 1,920

10. When We Were Kings (1996)

PG | 88 min | Documentary, Sport

83 Metascore

A documentary of the 1974 heavyweight championship bout in Zaire, "The Rumble in the Jungle," between champion George Foreman and underdog challenger Muhammad Ali.

Director: Leon Gast | Stars: Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Don King, James Brown

Votes: 13,364 | Gross: $2.67M

11. 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: 14,008 | Gross: $50.00M

12. American Movie (1999)

R | 107 min | Documentary, Comedy

84 Metascore

Documentary about an aspiring filmmaker's attempts to finance his dream project by finally completing the low-budget horror film he abandoned years before.

Director: Chris Smith | Stars: Mark Borchardt, Mike Schank, Tom Schimmels, Monica Borchardt

Votes: 14,843 | Gross: $1.16M

13. 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: 46,203 | Gross: $3.17M

14. 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: 131,135 | Gross: $21.24M

15. American Masters (1985– )
Episode: No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005)

Not Rated | 359 min | Documentary, Biography

A chronicle of Bob Dylan's strange evolution between 1961 and 1966 from folk singer to protest singer to "voice of a generation" to rock star.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Bob Dylan, B.J. Rolfzen, Dick Kangas, Liam Clancy

Votes: 10,355

16. 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: 7,618

17. 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: 32,615 | Gross: $0.68M

18. At Night I Fly (2011)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary

In At Night I Fly: Images from New Folsom, inmates at one of California's most maximum security prisons let us see their world. This world is less about dangerous drama and more, as one of ... See full summary »

Director: Michel Wenzer | Stars: Jim Carlson, Spoon Jackson, Rick Misener, Charles Owens

Votes: 346

19. Cocaine Cowboys (2006)

R | 118 min | Documentary, Crime, History

59 Metascore

In the 1980s, ruthless Colombian cocaine barons invaded Miami with a brand of violence unseen in this country since Prohibition-era Chicago - and it put the city on the map. "Cocaine ... See full summary »

Director: Billy Corben | Stars: Jon Roberts, Al Sunshine, Sam Burstyn, Mickey Munday

Votes: 11,500 | Gross: $0.15M

20. Catfish (2010)

PG-13 | 87 min | Documentary, Drama, Mystery

65 Metascore

Young filmmakers document their colleague's budding online friendship with a young woman and her family which leads to an unexpected series of discoveries.

Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman | Stars: Yaniv Schulman, Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost, Angela Wesselman-Pierce

Votes: 37,725 | Gross: $3.23M