Informative, fascinating, and sometimes life-changing, documentaries have a way of pulling you in. In this list of the best documentaries we have assembled the best of the best in the documentary world.
Have a documentary that deserves recognition? Comment below so others can benefit. And, if you are looking for a lighthearted change of pace after watching your documentaries, check out our list of the best romantic comedies.
List of the Best Documentaries
Grizzly Man (2005)
Featuring actual video footage from grizzly bear activist Timothy Treadwell, Grizzly Man details what led Treadwell to live among grizzlies in Alaska and ultimately meet his death (along with activist Amie Huguenard) from those he sought to serve and protect. Heartbreaking and informative, this documentary gives real insight into the realities of nature.
Brooklyn Castle (2012)
Detailing the lives and successes of a poor, inner city middle school chess team, Brooklyn Castle tells the story of how the five members of this underdog chess team came to win more national chess championships than any other team in the country. Featuring challenges, wins, and losses, this documentary is inspirational and thought-provoking.
Man on Wire (2008)
Extraordinary, amazing, crazy, unreal…these are some of the words used to describe what happened on a summer day in 1974 when Frenchman Philippe Petit illegally rigged a wire between NYC’s Twin Towers and walked the tightrope for nearly an hour before he was arrested. The Man on Wire documentary showcases all of the planning, time, and sacrifices Petit gave to pull off one of the most remarkable crimes ever.
Showcasing the harrowing climb of Mount Everest by six Tibetan teenagers, the feats of these teens become even more impressive when viewers learn that all six of the teens are blind. Gripping and awe-inspiring, Blindsight has won multiple viewer favorite awards.
Supersize Me (2004)
Supersize Me details the life of director Morgan Spurlock as he undertakes a 30 day McDonald’s fast food only diet. Along the way viewers see Spurlock’s doctor checkups, weight gain, and health scares – all a scary reminder of the problems of obesity and fast food dependence in America.
Using only the testimonials of Holocaust survivors and historians to tell a painful and intimate story of the Holocaust, Shoah is a landmark, hours-long documentary. While painful and raw, Shoah reminds us that we must never forget the atrocities that happened in the not so distant past.
Taxi to the Dark Side (2007)
Taxi to the Dark Side explores claims of the American military’s use of torture in bases like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay during the Bush administration. Investigative and informative, this documentary is a sad look at what can happen when power is abused.
Showcasing the wheelchair bound athletes of the 2004 US Paralympics quad rugby team, Murderball is everything a sport’s documentary should be – inspiring and thrilling. With passion, heart, and high spirits, the athletes in this film demonstrate courage against all odds.
March of the Penguins (2005)
Voiced by Morgan Freeman, the popular March of the Penguins provides a fascinating look at the annual breeding ground march of Emperor penguins. Great for kids and adults alike, this documentary is a must for animal lovers.
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Shot over the course of five years, this Roger Ebert favorite details the lives of two inner city Chicago high school boys who look to basketball as a way of escape. Raising questions of race, socioeconomic status, and the standing of today’s modern schools, Hoop Dreams is an illuminating and realistic look at some of the problems society still faces.
Best Documentaries Conclusion
A great documentary should be informative while also entertaining. You want to be able to receive information without having to feel like you are in a classroom lecture.
We believe that we did a good job of providing some great documentaries that are going to thoroughly cover both the information and entertainment aspect of a documentary.
We would love to hear your feedback in the comments below on any of these documentaries.