The Best Documentaries

by ser-pin | created - 01 Feb 2017 | updated - 3 weeks ago | Public
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1. 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: 53,197 | Gross: $77.44M

2. Undergångens arkitektur (1989)

Not Rated | 119 min | Documentary, History

An absorbing and chilling documentary about the National Socialist aesthetic, and how attempts to create the Aryan Ideal caused the extermination of millions. Aspects covered include: ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Cohen | Stars: Rolf Arsenius, Bruno Ganz, Sam Gray, Martin Bormann

Votes: 884

3. 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: 134,569 | Gross: $21.24M

4. Century of Cinema (1995–1998)
Episode: A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995)

225 min | Documentary

Martin Scorsese describes his initial and growing obsession with films from the 1940s and 50s as the art form developed and grew with clips from classics and cult classics.

Directors: Martin Scorsese, Michael Henry Wilson | Stars: Martin Scorsese, Allison Anders, Kathryn Bigelow, Francis Ford Coppola

Votes: 4,411

5. 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: 30,875 | Gross: $0.49M

6. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012)

R | 91 min | Documentary

81 Metascore

A documentary that chronicles artist and activist Ai Weiwei as he prepares for a series of exhibitions and gets into an increasing number of clashes with the Chinese government.

Director: Alison Klayman | Stars: Weiwei Ai, Dan Ai, Lao Ai, Lee Ambrozy

Votes: 3,961 | Gross: $0.53M

7. Koyaanisqatsi (1982)

Not Rated | 86 min | Documentary, Music

A collection of expertly photographed phenomena with no conventional plot. The footage focuses on nature, humanity and the relationship between them.

Director: Godfrey Reggio | Stars: Lou Dobbs, Ted Koppel

Votes: 31,696 | Gross: $1.72M

8. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

PG | 96 min | Documentary

75 Metascore

Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim follows Al Gore on the lecture circuit, as the former presidential candidate campaigns to raise public awareness of the dangers of global warming and calls for immediate action to curb its destructive effects on the environment.

Director: Davis Guggenheim | Stars: Al Gore, Billy West, George Bush, George W. Bush

Votes: 77,105 | Gross: $23.81M

9. 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: 13,734 | Gross: $2.67M

10. 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: 14,555 | Gross: $50.00M

11. Finding Vivian Maier (2013)

Not Rated | 83 min | Documentary, Biography, Mystery

75 Metascore

A documentary on the late Vivian Maier, a nanny whose previously unknown cache of 100,000 photographs earned her a posthumous reputation as one of the most accomplished street photographers.

Directors: John Maloof, Charlie Siskel | Stars: Vivian Maier, John Maloof, Daniel Arnaud, Simon Amédé

Votes: 11,962 | Gross: $1.51M

12. 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: 21,678 | Gross: $4.19M

13. 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 Ray Harris, Gus Rose, Jackie Johnson

Votes: 19,710 | Gross: $1.21M

14. 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: 49,113 | Gross: $2.96M

15. 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: 18,877 | Gross: $0.65M

16. Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic (2013)

R | 83 min | Documentary, Biography

The life and times of Richard Pryor.

Director: Marina Zenovich | Stars: David Banks, Rona Barrett, David Brinkley, Skip Brittenham

Votes: 1,299

17. Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (2001)

Not Rated | 142 min | Documentary, Biography

The career and life of Stanley Kubrick is explored through pictures, clips from his films, his old home movies, comments from his colleagues and a narration by Tom Cruise.

Director: Jan Harlan | Stars: Katharina Kubrick, Malcolm McDowell, Stanley Kubrick, Barbara Kroner

Votes: 9,356

18. 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: 122,101 | Gross: $119.19M

19. Eames: The Architect & The Painter (2011)

Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary, Biography

63 Metascore

The husband-and-wife team of Charles and Ray Eames were America's most influential and important industrial designers. Admired for their creations and fascinating as individuals, they have ... See full summary »

Directors: Jason Cohn, Bill Jersey | Stars: Charles Eames, Ray Eames, James Franco, Jeannine Oppewall

Votes: 889 | Gross: $0.15M

20. 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: 3,270 | Gross: $0.13M

21. Heaven (1987)

PG-13 | 80 min | Documentary

A series of interviews are conducted concerning people's beliefs towards the possibility of an afterlife. The interviews are filmed against a set of strange backdrops, and are intercut with... See full summary »

Director: Diane Keaton | Stars: Michael Agbabian, James Allport, Lazaro Arvizu, Stephen Augustine

Votes: 244

22. Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam (1987 TV Movie)

PG-13 | 84 min | Documentary, History, War

A documentary featuring letters written by U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines during the Vietnam War to their families and friends back home. Archive footage of the war and news ... See full summary »

Director: Bill Couturié | Stars: Tom Berenger, Ellen Burstyn, J. Kenneth Campbell, Richard Chaves

Votes: 1,636

23. 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, Octavio Calderon

Votes: 15,245 | Gross: $7.00M

24. Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (2010)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary

74 Metascore

Director Tamra Davis pays homage to her friend in this definitive documentary but also delves into Basquiat as an iconoclast. His dense, bebop-influenced neoexpressionist work emerged while... See full summary »

Director: Tamra Davis | Stars: Jean Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, Larry Gagosian, Bruno Bischofberger

Votes: 1,830 | Gross: $0.26M

25. Print the Legend (2014)

100 min | Documentary, Biography, Drama

Follows the people racing to bring the hot new 3D printing technology to your home, documenting the "Macintosh Moment" of this revolution and exploring what it takes to live the American Dream.

Directors: Luis Lopez, Clay Tweel | Stars: Chris Anderson, Bruce Bradshaw, Craig Broady, Bill Buel

Votes: 1,682

26. Why We Fight (2005)

PG-13 | 98 min | Documentary, History, War

68 Metascore

Is American foreign policy dominated by the idea of military supremacy? Has the military become too important in American life? Jarecki's shrewd and intelligent polemic would seem to give an affirmative answer to each of these questions.

Director: Eugene Jarecki | Stars: Gore Vidal, John McCain, Ken Adelman, John Ashcroft

Votes: 9,522 | Gross: $1.44M

27. Bigger Stronger Faster* (2008)

PG-13 | 105 min | Documentary, Sport

80 Metascore

An examination of America's win-at-all-cost culture from the perspective of bodybuilding and performance enhancing drugs, as it focuses on a pair of siblings chasing their dream.

Director: Chris Bell | Stars: Chris Bell, Mike Bell, Mark Bell, Hank Aaron

Votes: 12,756 | Gross: $0.31M

28. Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel (2011)

PG-13 | 86 min | Documentary, Biography

69 Metascore

A look at the life and work of the influential fashion editor of Harpers Bazaar, Diana Vreeland.

Directors: Lisa Immordino Vreeland, Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, Frédéric Tcheng | Stars: Diana Vreeland, Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Lauren Bacall

Votes: 1,289 | Gross: $1.00M

29. Bottled Life: Nestle's Business with Water (2012)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary, Adventure, Drama

Do you know how to turn ordinary water into a billion-dollar business? In Switzerland there's a company which has developed the art to perfection - Nestlé. This company dominates the global... See full summary »

Director: Urs Schnell | Stars: Peter Brabeck, Res Gehriger, Hanspeter Müller

Votes: 770

30. Citizenfour (2014)

R | 114 min | Documentary, Biography, Thriller

88 Metascore

A documentarian and a reporter travel to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with Edward Snowden.

Director: Laura Poitras | Stars: Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, William Binney, Jacob Appelbaum

Votes: 47,708 | Gross: $2.80M

31. West of Memphis (2012)

R | 147 min | Documentary, Crime

80 Metascore

An examination of a failure of justice in the case against the West Memphis Three.

Director: Amy Berg | Stars: Jason Baldwin, Damien Wayne Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Michael Baden

Votes: 9,195 | Gross: $0.31M

32. George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011)

Not Rated | 208 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

Filmmaker Martin Scorsese examines the life of musician George Harrison, weaving together interviews, concert footage, home movies and photographs.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: George Harrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr

Votes: 9,253

33. Senna (2010)

PG-13 | 106 min | Documentary, Biography, Sport

79 Metascore

A documentary on Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 world championship three times before his death at age 34.

Director: Asif Kapadia | Stars: Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Frank Williams, Ron Dennis

Votes: 54,662 | Gross: $1.61M

34. 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: 55,977 | Gross: $13.00M

35. American Pimp (1999)

R | 87 min | Documentary

59 Metascore

Street pimps, all of them African-American, discuss their lives and work: getting started, being flamboyant, pimping in various U.S. cities, bringing a woman into their group, taking a ... See full summary »

Directors: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes | Stars: John S. Dickson, Antonio Fargas, Heidi Fleiss, L. Hammond

Votes: 2,077 | Gross: $0.29M

36. Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys (2014)

Not Rated | 70 min | Documentary, History, Sci-Fi

When Star Wars landed in the theaters, it introduced audiences to a galaxy filled with heroes and villains, robots and space ships, and a dizzying variety of alien life. But when the lights... See full summary »

Director: Brian Stillman | Stars: Tom Beaumont, Tom Berges, John Booth, John Cook

Votes: 478

37. Behind the Planet of the Apes (1998 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 127 min | Documentary

The story behind the making of the 5 "Planet of the Apes" movies.

Directors: Kevin Burns, David Comtois | Stars: Roddy McDowall, Mort Abrahams, Charlton Heston, Richard D. Zanuck

Votes: 1,477

38. Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (2016 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 95 min | Documentary

78 Metascore

An intimate portrait of actress Debbie Reynolds and her relationship with her beloved children, Carrie Fisher and Todd Fisher.

Directors: Alexis Bloom, Fisher Stevens | Stars: Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher, Todd Fisher, Catherine Hickland

Votes: 2,858

39. How Nice to See You Alive (1989)

100 min | Drama, History

Half-documental independent film about torture against women in Brazilian military dictatorship. Ravache is both a nameless narrator and main character.

Director: Lúcia Murat | Star: Irene Ravache

Votes: 123

40. Farewell Comrades! (2011– )

Documentary, Drama, History

Add a Plot

Star: Tatiana Nekrasov

Votes: 95

41. James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction (2018)

60 min | Documentary

An exploration into the science fiction genre, with some of the greatest pioneers of the genre.

Stars: James Cameron, Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg, Peter Capaldi

Votes: 591

42. Twenty Years Later (1984)

119 min | Documentary

Eduardo Coutinho was filming a movie with the same name in the Northeast of Brazil, in 1964, when there came the military coup. He had to interrupt the project, and came back to it in 1981,... See full summary »

Director: Eduardo Coutinho | Stars: Eduardo Coutinho, Tite de Lemos, Ferreira Gullar

Votes: 820

43. O.J.: Made in America (2016)

TV-MA | 467 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

A chronicle of the rise and fall of O.J. Simpson, whose high-profile murder trial exposed the extent of American racial tensions, revealing a fractured and divided nation.

Director: Ezra Edelman | Stars: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mike Albanese, Muhammad Ali, Marcus Allen

Votes: 14,799

44. Surviving R. Kelly (2019– )

360 min | Documentary, Music

A six-part series about the controversial R&B star R. Kelly which features several women making allegations of abuse by him.

Stars: Tarana Burke, Kathy Chaney, Andrea Kelly, Candice Norcott

Votes: 1,650

45. Free Solo (2018)

PG-13 | 100 min | Documentary, Sport

83 Metascore

Alex Honnold attempts to become the first person to ever free solo climb El Capitan.

Directors: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi | Stars: Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, Jimmy Chin, Cheyne Lempe

Votes: 27,678 | Gross: $17.54M



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