Best Documentaries

by melvyn-z | created - 24 May 2014 | updated - 07 Jul 2017 | Public
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1. Baraka (1992)

Not Rated | 96 min | Documentary

A collection of expertly photographed scenes of human life and religion.

Director: Ron Fricke

Votes: 33,292 | Gross: $1.33M

2. The Salt of the Earth (2014)

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

83 Metascore

The life and work of photographer Sebastião Salgado, who has spent forty years documenting deprived societies in hidden corners of the world.

Directors: Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, Wim Wenders | Stars: Sebastião Salgado, Wim Wenders, Lélia Wanick Salgado, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado

Votes: 17,386 | Gross: $1.34M

3. Sans Soleil (1983)

Not Rated | 100 min | Documentary, Drama

A woman narrates the contemplative writings of a seasoned world traveler, focusing on contemporary Japan.

Director: Chris Marker | Stars: Florence Delay, Arielle Dombasle, Riyoko Ikeda, Charlotte Kerr

Votes: 8,476 | Gross: $0.03M

4. 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: 19,940

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: 31,311 | Gross: $0.49M

6. F for Fake (1973)

PG | 89 min | Documentary

A documentary about fraud and fakery.

Directors: Orson Welles, Gary Graver, Oja Kodar, François Reichenbach | Stars: Orson Welles, Oja Kodar, François Reichenbach, Elmyr de Hory

Votes: 13,322

7. Inside Job (2010)

PG-13 | 109 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: 65,545 | Gross: $4.31M

8. Taxi to the Dark Side (2007)

R | 106 min | Documentary, Crime, War

82 Metascore

Alex Gibney exposes the haunting details of the USA's torture and interrogation practices during the War in Afghanistan.

Director: Alex Gibney | Stars: Alex Gibney, Brian Keith Allen, Moazzam Begg, Christopher Beiring

Votes: 13,851 | Gross: $0.27M

9. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991)

R | 96 min | Documentary

Documentary that chronicles how Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979) was plagued by extraordinary script, shooting, budget, and casting problems--nearly destroying the life and career of the celebrated director.

Directors: Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper, Eleanor Coppola | Stars: Dennis Hopper, Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, George Lucas

Votes: 16,928 | Gross: $1.32M

10. The Look of Silence (2014)

PG-13 | 103 min | Documentary, Biography, History

92 Metascore

A family that survived the genocide in Indonesia confronts the men who killed one of their brothers.

Director: Joshua Oppenheimer | Stars: Adi Rukun, M.Y. Basrun, Amir Hasan, Inong

Votes: 10,254 | Gross: $0.11M

11. Sicko (2007)

PG-13 | 123 min | Documentary, Drama

74 Metascore

A documentary comparing the highly profitable American health care industry to other nations, and HMO horror stories including shotgun deaths.

Director: Michael Moore | Stars: Michael Moore, Tucker Albrizzi, Tony Benn, George W. Bush

Votes: 71,746 | Gross: $24.54M

12. 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: 9,408

13. The Pervert's Guide to Cinema (2006)

150 min | Documentary

Slavoj Zizek examines famous films in a philosophical and a psychoanalytic context.

Director: Sophie Fiennes | Star: Slavoj Zizek

Votes: 5,766

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: 135,133 | Gross: $21.24M

15. 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: 122,608 | Gross: $119.19M

16. American Masters (1985– )
Episode: Woody Allen: A Documentary (2011)

Not Rated | 192 min | Documentary, Biography

A documentary on Woody Allen that trails him on his movie sets and follows him back to Brooklyn as he visits his childhood haunts.

Director: Robert B. Weide | Stars: Woody Allen, Letty Aronson, Marshall Brickman, Josh Brolin

Votes: 4,853

17. From Caligari to Hitler: German Cinema in the Age of the Masses (2014)

119 min | Documentary, Biography, History

Focuses on the Weimar Republic (1918-1933) and its 'collective spirit' in cinema. The purpose of film as a cultural tool is examined. Based on celebrated sociologist Siegfried Kracauer's seminal book 'From Caligari to Hitler' (1947).

Director: Rüdiger Suchsland | Stars: Rüdiger Suchsland, Hans Henrik Wöhler, Fritz Lang, Volker Schlöndorff

Votes: 562

18. Side by Side (2012)

Not Rated | 99 min | Documentary

82 Metascore

The documentary investigates the history, process and workflow of both digital and photochemical film creation.

Director: Christopher Kenneally | Stars: Derek Ambrosi, Michael Ballhaus, Andrzej Bartkowiak, Dion Beebe

Votes: 12,497 | Gross: $0.03M

19. 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: 4,436

20. My Voyage to Italy (1999)

PG-13 | 246 min | Documentary

90 Metascore

World-renowned director Martin Scorsese narrates this journey through his favorites in Italian cinema.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Star: Martin Scorsese

Votes: 2,741 | Gross: $0.01M

21. The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years (2016)

Unrated | 106 min | Documentary, Music

72 Metascore

A compilation of found footage featuring music, interviews, and stories of The Beatles' 250 concerts from 1963 to 1966.

Director: Ron Howard | Stars: The Beatles, John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney

Votes: 9,793 | Gross: $2.93M

22. 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: 48,507 | Gross: $3.17M

23. Earthlings (2005)

95 min | Documentary, Horror

Using hidden cameras and never-before-seen footage, Earthlings chronicles the day-to-day practices of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit.

Director: Shaun Monson | Star: Joaquin Phoenix

Votes: 16,192

24. JLG/JLG: Self-Portrait in December (1994)

62 min | Documentary, Drama

Director Jean-Luc Godard reflects in this movie about his place in film history, the interaction of film industry and film as art, as well as the act of creating art.

Director: Jean-Luc Godard | Stars: Jean-Luc Godard, Geneviève Pasquier, Denis Jadót, Brigitte Bastien

Votes: 629

25. 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: 55,774 | Gross: $1.61M

26. The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing (2004)

TV-PG | 98 min | Documentary

Documentary about the art of film editing. Clips are shown from many groundbreaking films with innovative editing styles.

Director: Wendy Apple | Stars: Kathy Bates, Zach Staenberg, Jodie Foster, Michael Tronick

Votes: 2,409

27. 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: 20,042

28. The War Game (1965 TV Movie)

48 min | Drama, War

A docudrama depicting a hypothetical nuclear attack on Britain.

Director: Peter Watkins | Stars: Michael Aspel, Peter Graham, Dave Baldwin, Kathy Staff

Votes: 5,782

29. 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: 56,867 | Gross: $2.06M

30. Before the Flood (2016)

PG | 96 min | Documentary, News

63 Metascore

A look at how climate change affects our environment and what society can do to prevent the demise of endangered species, ecosystems and native communities across the planet.

Director: Fisher Stevens | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ki-moon Ban, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mike Brune

Votes: 23,519

31. Plastic Planet (2009)

TV-G | 95 min | Documentary

55 Metascore

Werner Boote presents an up-close and personal view of the controversial and fascinating material that has found its way into every facet of our daily lives: plastic. He takes us on a ... See full summary »

Director: Werner Boote | Stars: Werner Boote, John Taylor, Peter Lieberzeit, Marques Brown

Votes: 1,119 | Gross: $0.00M

32. Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003)

Not Rated | 169 min | Documentary, History

86 Metascore

A documentary on how Los Angeles has been used and depicted in the movies.

Director: Thom Andersen | Stars: Encke King, Ben Alexander, Jim Backus, Brenda Bakke

Votes: 1,948

33. Everything or Nothing (2012)

TV-14 | 98 min | Documentary

A history of the James Bond franchise.

Director: Stevan Riley | Stars: Ken Adam, Maud Adams, John Barry, Shirley Bassey

Votes: 1,941

34. Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015)

PG-13 | 79 min | Documentary

79 Metascore

Filmmakers discuss how Francois Truffaut's 1966 book "Cinema According to Hitchcock" influenced their work.

Director: Kent Jones | Stars: Mathieu Amalric, Wes Anderson, Peter Bogdanovich, David Fincher

Votes: 5,025 | Gross: $0.30M

35. Goli (2014)

75 min | Documentary, History

A documentary film about a family secret conceived decades ago on 'an island of broken souls' and a painful past slowly transforming into history.

Director: Tiha Gudac

Votes: 74

36. 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: 47,892 | Gross: $4.42M

37. 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: 14,721 | Gross: $0.32M

38. De Palma (2015)

R | 110 min | Documentary, Biography

83 Metascore

A documentary about writer and director Brian De Palma.

Directors: Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow | Star: Brian De Palma

Votes: 4,100 | Gross: $0.16M

39. Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed (2007 TV Movie)

155 min | Documentary

Filmmakers, critics and even politicians discuss the social impact of the "Star Wars" films and the franchise's reliance in mythology and history.

Director: Kevin Burns | Stars: George Lucas, Linda Ellerbee, Tom Brokaw, Newt Gingrich

Votes: 606

40. Oceans (2009)

G | 84 min | Documentary, Drama

75 Metascore

An ecological drama/documentary, filmed throughout the globe. Part thriller, part meditation on the vanishing wonders of the sub-aquatic world.

Directors: Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud | Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Jacques Perrin, Matthias Brandt

Votes: 8,619 | Gross: $19.42M

41. 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: 48,263 | Gross: $2.80M

42. 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: 12,096 | Gross: $1.51M

43. Tokyo-Ga (1985)

92 min | Documentary

Moved by the work of director Yasujirô Ozu, Wim Wenders travels to Japan in search of the Tokyo seen in Ozu's films.

Director: Wim Wenders | Stars: Chishû Ryû, Werner Herzog, Yûharu Atsuta, Chris Marker

Votes: 2,178

44. This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)

Unrated | 98 min | Documentary

75 Metascore

Kirby Dick's exposé about the American movie ratings board.

Director: Kirby Dick | Stars: Kirby Dick, Kimberly Peirce, Darren Aronofsky, Atom Egoyan

Votes: 26,780 | Gross: $0.30M

45. Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (2016)

PG-13 | 98 min | Documentary

76 Metascore

Werner Herzog's exploration of the Internet and the connected world.

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Elon Musk, Lawrence Krauss, Lucianne Walkowicz, Kevin Mitnick

Votes: 10,767 | Gross: $0.59M

46. Bergman Island (2004 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary, Biography

71 Metascore

All three documentaries were mainly shot in the home of Ingmar Bergman. This was the first time ever that a filmmaker had access to Ingmar Bergman in his home at the small island Fårö in ... See full summary »

Director: Marie Nyreröd | Stars: Ingmar Bergman, Erland Josephson, Marie Nyreröd

Votes: 800

47. Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words (2016)

R | 93 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

74 Metascore

An in-depth look at the life and work of avant-garde musician, Frank Zappa.

Director: Thorsten Schütte | Stars: Frank Zappa, Steve Allen, Angel, Chuck Ash

Votes: 1,047 | Gross: $0.35M



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