Documentaries you shouldn't miss

by merkele | created - 14 Sep 2013 | updated - 14 Sep 2013 | Public
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1. 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: 50,941 | Gross: $3.17M

2. The Act of Killing (2012)

Not Rated | 117 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

91 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: 33,711 | Gross: $0.49M

3. Paris Is Burning (1990)

R | 71 min | Documentary

82 Metascore

A chronicle of New York's drag scene in the 1980s, focusing on balls, voguing and the ambitions and dreams of those who gave the era its warmth and vitality.

Director: Jennie Livingston | Stars: Brooke Xtravaganza, André Christian, Dorian Corey, Paris Duprée

Votes: 11,578 | Gross: $3.78M

4. Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary, Biography, Drama

German-American Dieter Dengler discusses his service as a U.S. naval pilot in the Vietnam War. Dengler also revisits the sites of his capture and eventual escape from the hands of the Viet Cong, recreating many events for the camera.

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Dieter Dengler, Werner Herzog, Eugene Deatrick

Votes: 5,525

5. My Best Fiend (1999)

Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary, Biography

70 Metascore

In the 1950s, an adolescent Werner Herzog was transfixed by a film performance of the young Klaus Kinski. Years later, they would share an apartment where, in an unabated, forty-eight-hour ... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale, Eva Mattes

Votes: 10,023 | Gross: $0.10M

6. The Century of the Self (2002)

235 min | Documentary

80 Metascore

A documentary about the rise of psychoanalysis as a powerful means of persuasion for both governments and corporations.

Stars: Adam Curtis, Ann Bernays, Robert Reich, Alfred Pritz

Votes: 4,647

7. Marjoe (1972)

PG | 88 min | Documentary, Biography

Part documentary, part expose, this film follows one-time child evangelist Marjoe Gortner on the "church tent" Revivalist circuit, commenting on the showmanship of Evangelism and "the ... See full summary »

Directors: Sarah Kernochan, Howard Smith | Stars: Marjoe Gortner, Sarah Kernochan

Votes: 1,389

8. Blackfish (2013)

PG-13 | 83 min | Documentary, News

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: 59,908 | Gross: $2.07M

9. The Cove (2009)

PG-13 | 92 min | Documentary, Biography, 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: 46,514 | Gross: $0.87M

10. The Imposter (2012)

R | 99 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

77 Metascore

A documentary centered on a young man in Spain who claims to a grieving Texas family that he is their 16-year-old son who has been missing for 3 years.

Director: Bart Layton | Stars: Adam O'Brian, Nicholas Barclay, Carey Gibson, Bryan Gibson

Votes: 43,866 | Gross: $0.89M

11. The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom (2007)

180 min | Documentary

Individual freedom is the dream of our age. It's what our leaders promise to give us, it defines how we think of ourselves and, repeatedly, we have gone to war to impose freedom around the ... See full synopsis »

Stars: James M. Buchanan, Paul McHugh, Philip Mirowski, John Nash

Votes: 1,664

12. Crumb (1994)

R | 119 min | Documentary, Biography, Comedy

93 Metascore

An intimate portrait of controversial cartoonist Robert Crumb and his traumatized family.

Director: Terry Zwigoff | Stars: Robert Crumb, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Charles Crumb, Maxon Crumb

Votes: 17,879 | Gross: $3.17M

13. An Unreasonable Man (2006)

Not Rated | 122 min | Documentary, Biography

75 Metascore

A look at the career of consumer advocate Ralph Nader.

Directors: Henriette Mantel, Steve Skrovan | Stars: Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan, Howard Zinn, Eric Alterman

Votes: 1,635 | Gross: $0.18M

14. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2000)

PG-13 | 79 min | Documentary, Biography

69 Metascore

A documentary look, mostly through the eyes of Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, at her rise and fall as a popular televangelist with husband Jim Bakker. Traces their rise: her teen marriage to ... See full summary »

Directors: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato | Stars: RuPaul, Tammy Faye Bakker, Virginia Fairchild, Johnny Grover

Votes: 1,488 | Gross: $1.03M

15. You've Been Trumped (2011)

Not Rated | 79 min | Documentary

57 Metascore

In this David and Goliath story for the 21st century, a group of proud Scottish homeowners take on celebrity tycoon Donald Trump as he buys up one of Scotland's last wilderness areas to build a golf resort.

Director: Anthony Baxter | Stars: Michael Forbes, Donald Trump, Anthony Baxter, Kevin Brown

Votes: 2,112 | Gross: $0.03M

16. Nostalgia for the Light (2010)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary

91 Metascore

A documentary about two different searches conducted in the Chilean Atacama Desert: one by astronomers looking for answers about the history of the cosmos, and one by women looking for the remains of loved ones killed by Pinochet's regime.

Director: Patricio Guzmán | Stars: Gaspar Galaz, Lautaro Núñez, Luís Henríquez, Miguel Lawner

Votes: 4,658

17. 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: 23,363 | Gross: $3.12M

18. Grey Gardens (1975)

PG | 95 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama

82 Metascore

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: 11,597 | Gross: $0.03M

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

PG | 98 min | Documentary, Comedy

82 Metascore

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: 1,681 | Gross: $0.49M

20. Last Train Home (2009)

Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary, Drama

86 Metascore

A couple embarks on a journey home for Chinese new year along with 130 million other migrant workers, to reunite with their children and struggle for a future. Their unseen story plays out as China soars towards being a world superpower.

Director: Lixin Fan | Stars: Changhua Zhang, Yang Zhang, Suqin Chen, Qin Zhang

Votes: 3,353 | Gross: $0.29M

21. Hell House (2001)

Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary

64 Metascore

A look at the "Hell House" performed annually in October by the youth members of Trinity Church (Assemblies of God) in Cedar Hill, Texas (a Dallas suburb) - seen by over 10,000 visitors ... See full summary »

Director: George Ratliff | Stars: Aria Adloo, Ashley Adloo, Amy Allred, Gabriel Allred

Votes: 1,543

22. 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: 20,472 | Gross: $0.26M

23. 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: 12,838 | Gross: $0.03M

24. 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: 14,156

25. Darwin's Nightmare (2004)

107 min | Documentary

84 Metascore

A documentary on the effect of fishing the Nile perch in Tanzania's Lake Victoria. The predatory fish, which has wiped out the native species, is sold in European supermarkets, while starving Tanzanian families have to make do with the leftovers.

Director: Hubert Sauper | Stars: Elizabeth 'Eliza' Maganga Nsese, Raphael Tukiko Wagara, Dimond Remtulia, Marcus Nyoni

Votes: 5,293 | Gross: $0.20M

26. A Film Unfinished (2010)

Unrated | 88 min | Documentary, Drama, History

88 Metascore

A film about an unfinished film which portrays the people behind and before the camera in the Warsaw Ghetto, exposing the extent of the cinematic manipulation forever changing the way we look at historic images.

Director: Yael Hersonski | Stars: Alexander Beyer, Rüdiger Vogler, Hanna Avrutzki, Luba Gewisser

Votes: 1,686 | Gross: $0.31M

27. The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (2010)

Not Rated | 180 min | Documentary, Biography, History

87 Metascore

The film explores the image of the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu using unknown official footage from the Romanian National Television and National Film Archives.

Director: Andrei Ujica | Stars: Nicolae Ceausescu, Elena Ceausescu, Stefan Andrei, Gheorghe Apostol

Votes: 1,335 | Gross: $0.03M

28. Hospital (1970 TV Movie)

84 min | Documentary

Daily activities of the Metropolitan Hospital in New York City, with emphasis on the emergency ward and outpatient clinics. The cases depicted illustrate how medical expertise, availability... See full summary »

Director: Frederick Wiseman | Stars: Eugene Friedman, Stanley Friedman, Robert Schwartz

Votes: 364

29. Aspen (1991)

146 min | Documentary

Add a Plot

Director: Frederick Wiseman | Star: John Denver

Votes: 61

30. Titicut Follies (1967)

Unrated | 84 min | Documentary

Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman takes us inside the Massachusetts Correctional Institution Bridgewater where people stay trapped in their madness.

Director: Frederick Wiseman

Votes: 3,850

31. High School (1968)

Not Rated | 75 min | Documentary

Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman takes us inside Northeast High School as a fly on the wall to observe the teachers and how they interact with the students.

Director: Frederick Wiseman

Votes: 1,666

32. Law and Order (1969 TV Movie)

81 min | Documentary

Also known as The Greater Good, this series of vignettes focuses on the day-to-day work of Kansas City, Missouri police covers the range of circumstances they encounter and the variety of ... See full synopsis »

Director: Frederick Wiseman | Star: Richard Nixon

Votes: 250

33. Juvenile Court (1973)

144 min | Documentary

An unobtrusive and naturalistic examination of the goings-on of a children's court, Memphis Juvenile Court 616.

Director: Frederick Wiseman

Votes: 184

34. Essene (1972)

86 min | Documentary

Daily life in a Benedictine monastery.

Director: Frederick Wiseman

Votes: 133

35. The Store (1983)

118 min | Documentary

A look at the employees and shoppers at the Neiman-Marcus department in Dallas, Texas during the holiday season.

Director: Frederick Wiseman

Votes: 224

36. Domestic Violence (2001)

196 min | Documentary

85 Metascore

Renowned documentarian Frederick Wiseman turns his observational camera on The Spring, a Florida shelter for battered women and children. For one-hundred and ninety-six minutes, Wiseman ... See full summary »

Director: Frederick Wiseman

Votes: 234

37. Domestic Violence 2 (2002)

160 min | Documentary

The opening scene in this film is of an arrest in Hillsborough County Florida where a woman has scratched her husband while he was trying to restrain her from getting back in her car and ... See full summary »

Director: Frederick Wiseman

Votes: 80

38. All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (2011– )

60 min | Documentary

A series of films about how humans have been colonized by the machines we have built. Although we don't realize it, the way we see everything in the world today is through the eyes of the computers.

Stars: Adam Curtis, Stewart Brand, Peder Anker, Tord Björk

Votes: 1,503

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, Lorraine Barrett, June Downs

Votes: 12,305 | Gross: $2.40M



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