must-see documentariesby amy-steele1 | created - 09 Dec 2013 | updated - 06 Apr 2017 | Public
documentaries I recommend-- provide insight, make you think, question, learn something and want to know more.
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1. 56 Up (2012 TV Movie)
Not Rated | 144 min | Documentary
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.
Votes: 1,821 | Gross: $0.70M
2. The Central Park Five (2012)
Not Rated | 119 min | Documentary, Crime, History
A documentary that examines the 1989 case of five black and Latino teenagers who were convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park. After having spent between 6 and 13 years each in prison, a serial rapist confessed to the crime.
Votes: 6,357 | Gross: $0.27M
3. Venus and Serena (2012)
PG-13 | 99 min | Documentary, Sport
Ever since Venus and Serena Williams started playing in tennis tournaments, they've provoked strong reactions - from awe and admiration to suspicion and resentment. They've been winning ... See full summary »
Votes: 676 | Gross: $0.05M
Unrated | 85 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime
A rare behind-the-curtain look at the Earth Liberation Front, the radical environmental group that the FBI calls America's 'number one domestic terrorist threat.'
Votes: 2,973 | Gross: $0.06M
5. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
PG | 96 min | Documentary, News
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.
Votes: 77,950 | Gross: $23.81M
6. The Parking Lot Movie (2010)
PG | 74 min | Documentary
The Parking Lot Movie is a documentary about a singular parking lot in Charlottesville, Virginia. The film follows a select group of parking lot attendants and their strange rite of passage... See full summary »
7. Waste Land (2010)
Not Rated | 99 min | Documentary
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.
Votes: 8,049 | Gross: $0.19M
78 min | Documentary
A look at playwright Eve Ensler's writing workshop inside Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women.
9. 20 Feet from Stardom (2013)
PG-13 | 91 min | Documentary, Biography, Music
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.
Votes: 11,465 | Gross: $4.95M
10. Grizzly Man (2005)
R | 103 min | Documentary, Biography
Votes: 48,875 | Gross: $3.17M
11. Forks Over Knives (2011)
PG | 90 min | Documentary
Examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.
12. Muscle Shoals (2013)
PG | 111 min | Documentary, Biography, History
A documentary that celebrates Rick Hall, the founder of FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and the signature sound he developed in songs such as "I'll Take You There", "Brown Sugar", and "When a Man Loves a Woman".
Votes: 3,295 | Gross: $0.70M
13. The Punk Singer (2013)
Not Rated | 81 min | Documentary, Biography, Music
A look at the life of activist, musician, and cultural icon Kathleen Hanna, who formed the punk band Bikini Kill and pioneered the "riot grrrl" movement of the 1990s.
Votes: 2,538 | Gross: $0.12M
14. Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who (2007)
Not Rated | 237 min | Documentary, Music
A documentary on The Who, featuring interviews with the band's two surviving members, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey.
15. It Might Get Loud (2008)
PG | 98 min | Documentary, Music
A documentary on the electric guitar from the point of view of three significant rock musicians: the Edge, Jimmy Page and Jack White.
Votes: 11,915 | Gross: $1.61M
16. Ballerina (2006 TV Movie)
Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary, Music
This documentary gives insight to the lives of five ballerinas, all at different points in their careers. Looking at the operations of the Vagonova Academy and the Mariinsky Theatre, the life of a ballerina is disclosed.
Votes: 368 | Gross: $0.11M
17. Bhutto (2010)
Unrated | 111 min | Documentary, Biography
A riveting documentary of the recently assassinated Benazir Bhutto, a polarizing figure in the Muslim world. Following in her father's footsteps as a pillar for democracy, Bhutto was ... See full summary »
Votes: 599 | Gross: $0.10M
18. Conan O'Brien Can't Stop (2011)
R | 89 min | Documentary, Comedy, Music
A documentary on Conan O'Brien's comedy tour of the U.S. and Canada after leaving his post at "The Tonight Show" and severing his relationship with NBC.
Votes: 5,905 | Gross: $0.27M
19. Dig! (2004)
R | 107 min | Documentary, Music
A documentary on the once-promising American rock bands The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols, and the friendship/rivalry between their respective founders, Anton Newcombe and Courtney Taylor.
Votes: 5,785 | Gross: $0.13M
21. Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010)
R | 84 min | Documentary, Biography, Comedy
A documentary on the life and career of Joan Rivers, made as the comedienne turns 75 years old.
Votes: 3,512 | Gross: $2.93M
22. Searching for Debra Winger (2002)
R | 100 min | Documentary
Rosanna Arquette talks to various actresses about the pressures they face as women working in the entertainment industry.
23. Shut Up & Sing (2006)
R | 93 min | Documentary, Biography, Music
A documentary on the Dixie Chicks in the wake of singer Natalie Maines' anti-George W. Bush statement at a 2003 concert.
Votes: 4,636 | Gross: $1.22M
24. Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (2013)
Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime
Follows the court case of three members of the Russian feminist punk protest group Pussy Riot after their performance in a Russian Orthodox cathedral.
25. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (2002)
Unrated | 92 min | Documentary, Music
First-time filmmaker and award-winning photographer Sam Jones documents the recording of Wilco's album, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot."
Votes: 1,918 | Gross: $0.45M
27. Miss Representation (2011)
Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary
Explores the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America, and challenges the media's limited portrayal of what it means to be a powerful woman.
28. Dark Girls (2011)
Not Rated | 71 min | Documentary
Documentary exploring the deep-seated biases and attitudes about skin color---particularly dark skinned women, outside of and within the Black American culture.
31. The Hunting Ground (2015)
PG-13 | 103 min | Documentary
An exposé of rape crimes on U.S. college campuses, their institutional cover-ups, and the devastating toll they take on students and their families.
Votes: 5,649 | Gross: $0.41M
Not Rated | 57 min | Documentary, Adventure, Family
Angela Sun's journey of discovery to one of the most remote places on Earth, Midway Atoll, to uncover the truth behind the mystery of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Along the way she ... See full summary »
33. Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement (2009)
Not Rated | 61 min | Documentary, Drama, Romance
After 42 years, feisty and delightful lesbian couple Edie and Thea are finally getting married. From the early '60s to the present day, the tireless community activists persevere through ... See full summary »
35. Hot Girls Wanted (2015)
84 min | Documentary
A documentary about young women who have been drawn into the sex trade - and how easy it is for a web-savvy generation to end up making porn.
36. Amy (III) (2015)
R | 128 min | Documentary, Biography, Music
Archival footage and personal testimonials present an intimate portrait of the life and career of British singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse.
Votes: 44,599 | Gross: $8.41M
37. Antarctica: A Year on Ice (2013)
PG | 91 min | Documentary, Adventure, Biography
A visually stunning chronicle of what it is like to live in Antarctica for a full year, including winters isolated from the rest of the world, and enduring months of darkness in the coldest place on Earth.
Votes: 3,036 | Gross: $0.29M
38. What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)
Not Rated | 101 min | Documentary, Biography, Music
A documentary about the life and legend Nina Simone, an American singer, pianist, and civil rights activist labeled the "High Priestess of Soul."
40. Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015)
TV-MA | 145 min | Documentary, Animation, Biography
41. Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me (2014)
PG | 116 min | Documentary, Biography, Family
As he struggles with Alzheimer's disease, country-music legend Glen Campbell embarks on his farewell tour in the U.S., Australia, and Europe.
Votes: 1,392 | Gross: $0.37M
43. He Named Me Malala (2015)
PG-13 | 88 min | Documentary
A look at the events leading up to the Taliban's attack on Pakistani schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, for speaking out on girls' education followed by the aftermath, including her speech to the United Nations.
Votes: 4,233 | Gross: $2.64M
44. Last Days in Vietnam (2014)
Not Rated | 98 min | Documentary, History, War
During the chaotic final weeks of the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese Army closes in on Saigon as the panicked South Vietnamese people desperately attempt to escape. On the ground, ... See full summary »
Votes: 3,527 | Gross: $0.47M
45. The Wolfpack (2015)
R | 90 min | Documentary, Biography
Confined in an apartment from a New York housing project, the six Angulo brothers learned everything they know about the world through watching films and spend their time reenacting their favorite movies with intricate homemade costumes.
Votes: 11,205 | Gross: $1.30M
46. Upside Down: The Creation Records Story (2010)
TV-MA | 101 min | Documentary, Music
The definitive film about Creation Records, one of the world's most successful and colorful independent labels.
47. I Am Femen (2014)
95 min | Documentary
A revealing look at FEMEN- the topless female activists who fight corrupt and patriarchal political systems in Kiev and all across Europe- as well as a portrait of the group's creative backbone, the bewitching Oksana Shachko.
48. Vessel (II) (2014)
Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary, Adventure, Biography
A fearless sea captain sails a ship through loopholes in international law, providing abortions on the high seas, and leaving in her wake a network of emboldened activists who trust women to handle abortion on their own terms.
49. Running from Crazy (2013)
Not Rated | 100 min | Documentary, Biography, Drama