Brian's 'Docs You Should Watch'

by richards-brian-w | created - 03 Feb 2013 | updated - 28 Feb 2016 | Public

These are documentaries I've seen that I highly recommend, sorted from oldest to newest.

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1. 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: 8,954

2. Man with a Movie Camera (1929)

Not Rated | 68 min | Documentary, Music

A man travels around a city with a camera slung over his shoulder, documenting urban life with dazzling invention.

Director: Dziga Vertov | Star: Mikhail Kaufman

Votes: 18,251

3. 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: 14,600

4. 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: 7,050

5. 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

6. 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

7. 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

8. 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: 15,812 | Gross: $3.17M

9. 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: 12,524

10. Hands on a Hardbody: The Documentary (1997)

PG | 98 min | Documentary

Twenty-four contestants compete in an endurance/sleep deprivation contest in order to win a brand new Nissan Hardbody truck. The last person to remain standing with his or her hand on the ... See full summary »

Director: S.R. Bindler | Stars: Sid Allen, Brent Baskin, Greg Cox, J.C. Crum

Votes: 1,413 | Gross: $0.49M

11. Trekkies (1997)

PG | 86 min | Documentary

64 Metascore

Denice Crosby takes a first look at the huge fans of Star Trek and how the series from around America has affected and shaped their lives.

Director: Roger Nygard | Stars: Denise Crosby, Frank D'Amico, Barbara Adams, Denis Bourguignon

Votes: 4,569 | Gross: $0.32M

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: 14,803 | Gross: $1.16M

13. 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: 130,954 | Gross: $21.24M

14. 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

15. 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: 21,228 | Gross: $3.12M

16. 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

17. The Corporation (2003)

Not Rated | 145 min | Documentary, History

73 Metascore

Documentary that looks at the concept of the corporation throughout recent history up to its present-day dominance.

Directors: Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott | Stars: Mikela Jay, Rob Beckwermert, Christopher Gora, Nina Jones

Votes: 19,164 | Gross: $1.88M

18. Super Size Me (2004)

PG | 100 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama

73 Metascore

While examining the influence of the fast food industry, Morgan Spurlock personally explores the consequences on his health of a diet of solely McDonald's food for one month.

Director: Morgan Spurlock | Stars: Morgan Spurlock, Daryl Isaacs, Chemeeka Walker, Dania Abu-Rmaileh

Votes: 92,408 | Gross: $11.53M

19. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004)

Not Rated | 141 min | Documentary, Music

74 Metascore

A documentary crew followed Metallica for the better part of 2001-2003, a time of tension and release for the rock band, as they recorded their album St. Anger, fought bitterly, and sought the counsel of their on-call shrink.

Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky | Stars: James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich, Robert Trujillo

Votes: 15,140 | Gross: $1.22M

20. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)

R | 122 min | Documentary, Drama, War

67 Metascore

Michael Moore's view on what happened to the United States after September 11; and how the Bush Administration allegedly used the tragic event to push forward its agenda for unjust wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Director: Michael Moore | Stars: Michael Moore, George W. Bush, Ben Affleck, Stevie Wonder

Votes: 119,110 | Gross: $119.19M

21. 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: 46,061 | Gross: $3.17M

22. 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

23. 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: 32,568 | Gross: $0.68M

24. Zeitgeist (2007 Video)

Not Rated | 118 min | Documentary, History

Mythology and belief in society today, presenting uncommon perspectives of common cultural issues.

Director: Peter Joseph | Stars: Chogyam Trungpa, Jordan Maxwell, George Carlin, Bill Hicks

Votes: 45,326

25. Food, Inc. (2008)

PG | 94 min | Documentary

80 Metascore

An unflattering look inside America's corporate controlled food industry.

Director: Robert Kenner | Stars: Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, Richard Lobb, Vince Edwards

Votes: 46,416 | Gross: $4.42M

26. 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: 46,792 | Gross: $2.96M

27. 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

28. Best Worst Movie (2009)

Not Rated | 93 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama

61 Metascore

A look at the making of the film Troll 2 (1990) and its journey from being crowned the "worst film of all time" to a cherished cult classic.

Director: Michael Paul Stephenson | Stars: George Hardy, Lily Hardy, Pita Ray, Micki Knox

Votes: 6,805 | Gross: $0.10M

29. Winnebago Man (2009)

85 min | Documentary, Biography, Comedy

71 Metascore

Jack Rebney is the most famous man you've never heard of - after cursing his way through a Winnebago sales video, Rebney's outrageously funny outtakes became an underground sensation and ... See full summary »

Director: Ben Steinbauer | Stars: Jack Rebney, Ben Steinbauer, Keith Gordon, Nick Prueher

Votes: 4,269 | Gross: $0.18M

30. Beer Wars (2009)

PG | 89 min | Documentary

A contemporary David and Goliath story that takes you inside the cutthroat world of the big business of American beer.

Director: Anat Baron | Stars: Norman Adami, Anat Baron, Roberta Baskin, Jeff Becker

Votes: 1,085

31. Waste Land (2010)

Not Rated | 99 min | Documentary

78 Metascore

On the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro is Jardim Gramacho, the world's largest landfill, where men and women sift through garbage for a living. Artist Vik Muniz produces portraits of the workers and learns about their lives.

Directors: Lucy Walker, Karen Harley, João Jardim | Star: Vik Muniz

Votes: 7,784 | Gross: $0.19M

32. Marwencol (2010)

Not Rated | 83 min | Documentary, Biography, Fantasy

83 Metascore

After a vicious attacks leaves him brain-damaged and broke, Mark Hogancamp seeks recovery in "Marwencol", a 1/6th scale World War II-era town he creates in his backyard.

Director: Jeff Malmberg | Stars: Mark Hogancamp, Emmanuel Nneji, Edda Hogancamp, Tom Neubauer

Votes: 2,660 | Gross: $0.11M

33. Bill Cunningham New York (2010)

Not Rated | 84 min | Documentary, Biography, History

76 Metascore

A profile of the noted and extraordinarily cheerful veteran New York City fashion photographer.

Director: Richard Press | Stars: Bill Cunningham, Anna Wintour, Michael Kors, Editta Sherman

Votes: 4,711 | Gross: $1.51M

34. 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: 56,411 | Gross: $3.29M

35. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)

PG | 81 min | Documentary

77 Metascore

A documentary on 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono, his renowned Tokyo restaurant, and his relationship with his son and eventual heir, Yoshikazu.

Director: David Gelb | Stars: Jiro Ono, Yoshikazu Ono, Masuhiro Yamamoto, Daisuke Nakazama

Votes: 28,849 | Gross: $2.55M

36. How Beer Saved the World (2011 TV Movie)

TV-PG | 60 min | Documentary

This show traces the important role that beer has played in human history from the probable origins of the first beer at the dawn of history to the development of a special beer for use in zero gravity space missions.

Stars: Henry Strozier, George Armelagos, Charlie Bamforth, Kyria Boundy-Mills

Votes: 441

37. Inside Job (2010)

PG-13 | 105 min | Documentary, Crime

88 Metascore

Takes a closer look at what brought about the 2008 financial meltdown.

Director: Charles Ferguson | Stars: Matt Damon, Gylfi Zoega, Andri Snær Magnason, Sigridur Benediktsdottir

Votes: 62,707 | Gross: $4.31M

38. 56 Up (2012 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 144 min | Documentary

83 Metascore

Director Michael Apted revisits the same group of British-born adults after a 7 year wait. The subjects are interviewed as to the changes that have occurred in their lives during the last seven years.

Directors: Michael Apted, Paul Almond | Stars: Michael Apted, Bruce Balden, Jacqueline Bassett, Symon Basterfield

Votes: 1,676 | Gross: $0.70M

39. The Queen of Versailles (2012)

PG | 100 min | Documentary

80 Metascore

A documentary that follows a billionaire couple as they begin construction on a mansion inspired by Versailles. During the next two years, their empire, fueled by the real estate bubble and cheap money, falters due to the economic crisis.

Director: Lauren Greenfield | Stars: Jaqueline Siegel, David Siegel, Alyse Barker, Lorraine Barrett

Votes: 11,564 | Gross: $2.40M

40. The Pervert's Guide to Ideology (2012)

Not Rated | 136 min | Documentary

71 Metascore

Philosopher Slavoj Zizek examines the hidden themes and existential questions asked by world renowned films.

Director: Sophie Fiennes | Star: Slavoj Zizek

Votes: 5,095 | Gross: $0.07M

41. A Band Called Death (2012)

Not Rated | 96 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

77 Metascore

A documentary on the 1970s punk trio Death, and their new-found popularity decades after they disbanded.

Directors: Mark Christopher Covino, Jeff Howlett | Stars: Bobby Hackney, David Hackney, Dannis Hackney, Robbie Duncan

Votes: 3,110 | Gross: $0.13M

42. 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: 55,392 | Gross: $3.97M

43. The Act of Killing (2012)

Not Rated | 117 min | Documentary, Crime

89 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: 28,889 | Gross: $0.49M

44. Room 237 (I) (2012)

Not Rated | 102 min | Documentary

80 Metascore

An exploration of various interpretations of Stanley Kubrick's horror film, The Shining (1980).

Director: Rodney Ascher | Stars: Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey Cocks, Juli Kearns, John Fell Ryan

Votes: 18,710 | Gross: $0.26M

45. Sound City (2013)

Not Rated | 107 min | Documentary, Music

76 Metascore

A documentary on the fabled recording studio that was located in Van Nuys, California.

Director: Dave Grohl | Stars: Trent Reznor, Tom Petty, Mick Fleetwood, Vinny Appice

Votes: 10,996 | Gross: $0.42M

46. Frontline (1983– )
Episode: League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis (2013)

TV-PG | 114 min | Documentary

An investigation of the health crisis threatening NFL players and the long-term fortunes of football.

Director: Michael Kirk | Stars: Will Lyman, Harry Carson, Steve Fainaru, Beth Wilkinson

Votes: 248

47. 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: 53,216 | Gross: $2.06M

48. Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013)

PG-13 | 91 min | Documentary, Music

83 Metascore

Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we've had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead, until now.

Director: Morgan Neville | Stars: Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill

Votes: 10,730 | Gross: $4.95M

49. Al midan (2013)

Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary, Drama, History

84 Metascore

A group of Egyptian revolutionaries battle leaders and regimes, risking their lives to build a new society of conscience.

Director: Jehane Noujaim | Stars: Ahmed Hassan, Khalid Abdalla, Magdy Ashour, Ramy Essam

Votes: 7,636 | Gross: $0.12M

50. Dirty Wars (2013)

Not Rated | 87 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama