The Best Documentary Films (Highly engrossing docos)

by Mychosenamewastaken | created - 08 Feb 2012 | updated - 3 weeks ago | Public


WARNING - This list has multiple pages.





The Best Movies ever made (For the most enthusiastic movie lovers)

The Best Horror Films of all times -

The Best Found Footage Movies -

The Best Sci-Fi Movies ever made (For lovers of all things Science Fiction) -

The Best Documentary Films (Highly engrossing docos) -

The 50 best films ever made.

The Best South Korean Films -

The Best and Most Addictive TV Series -

The Best War Movies, Docos & Series -

The 25 Best Classic Films ever made -

The 25 Best WWII Movies, Docos & Series -

The 15 Best Iraq/Iran/Afghanistan War Movies, Docos and Series -

The Best Stephen King Adaptations -

The Best Simpsons Halloween Episodes


P.S I'm always looking for more suggestions, please feel free to link me to your lists!

Thanks, AB.

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1. Zeitgeist (2007 Video)

Not Rated | 118 min | Documentary, History

Mythology and belief in society today, presenting uncommon perspectives of common cultural issues.

Director: Peter Joseph | Stars: Chogyam Trungpa, Jordan Maxwell, George Carlin, Bill Hicks

Votes: 46,853


Should be required viewing for everyone. A shocking mind opener for both, the experienced documentary lover and those who rarely watch tv or movies, and everyone in-between.

If more people watched this documentary and others like it, i believe we would have a much more intelligent, open and informed society, armed with the information needed to make our own choices by lifting the veil on politics, war and religious dogma.


2. Making a Murderer (2015– )

TV-14 | 60 min | Documentary, Crime

Filmed over a 10-year period, Steven Avery, a DNA exoneree who, while in the midst of exposing corruption in local law enforcement, finds himself the prime suspect in a grisly new crime.

Stars: Dolores Avery, Steven Avery, Ken Kratz, Brendan Dassey

Votes: 79,174


Regardless of your opinion of Guilt or Innocence, this is a fact. This case has FAR to many inconsistencies, violations of civil and constitutional rights, it all stinks far, far too much. Even if only 10% of the things that the defence claims, turns out to be true (which im certain it will be) that should be more than enough to outrage a nation.

But like most people, and most first world nations, we suffer from sever short term memory loss and yes, ill say it.. Extreme apathy. We like to think we care, but deep down, we care about ourselves, our comfort and our desires. It's only convenient to care about things like this when they entertain you. It is a selfish veneer we drape in front of ourselves to see the world through the way we want to see it.

I think it's great when noble people set out to help the world or help their fellow man, yet it never turns out the way they or anyone else hopes. They end up losing interest, something new comes along, THAT is how galvanised our ideals are, they are NOT static, they flip and change and do 180's all the time to better accommodate what suits us, what makes us comfy.

Again, even if he is guilty, this case should have been thrown out halfway through the trail, it is a travesty and a mockery of the so called "Impartial Judicial System" in the US.

If this man was rich do you think he'd be where he is right now?? If this man and his whole family were not constantly looked down on, but were instead, respected members of the society, do you think this would have happened?

Again, regardless of what you think of Avery. Something is very very wrong here.

Not interested in people telling me i just don't know about the case and have not read, or watched everything available that they claim with extreme fervour (like they have won some sort of game and need to gloat like a child.) shows the undeniable guilt of Steve and Brendan. Because I've seen everything (The interviews) and read a wholllleee lot of transcripts available on line. After doing months of research, i'm still firm in my belief that this is one messed up situation, not because it was a murder, but because nothing seems to fit and everything seems very suspicious, happening just at the right time, everything always seems to benefit Manitowoc and there unflinching hatred and over zealous need to "GET THIS MAN!" How dare he try to sue us!

As far as I'm concerned, the biggest slap in the face to logic is that Spare key they found in Stevens room, regardless of the several thorough searches of the premises and that room particularly by the officers who were actually meant to be there, they find nada, not one shred of anything, Low and Behold in come Lenk and Colbourne, 2 officers FORBIDDEN from being involved due to conflict of interest, and guess what they find on there first search... The Key, in plain view. Seriously? It sounds like a goof in a movie for god sakes, it's such a slap in the face of rational minded people and in general the laws of physics.

Anyways. Watch... Now.

3. A Murder in the Park (2014)

PG-13 | 91 min | Documentary, Crime, History

70 Metascore

Documentary filmmakers assert that Anthony Porter - a former death-row inmate who was spared the death penalty thanks to the efforts of a college journalism program - was actually guilty, and an innocent man was sent to prison.

Directors: Shawn Rech, Brandon Kimber | Stars: Dexter Hammett, Joseph Alex, Jason Patrick, Denny Castiglione

Votes: 1,024


One of the most disturbing documentaries you will ever see.

It looked so random, i thought it was going to be another "Oh no, man is in prison for something he didn't do and get's released *insert cheer* But nope, this one is something very unique, it absolutely blew my mind.

This documentary is in a league of it's own, it's unknown amongst most TV and documentaries watchers, yet it's one of the best, most original and most shocking documentaries i have EVER seen.

A must watch.

4. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996)

Not Rated | 150 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama

A horrific triple child murder leads to an indictment and trial of three nonconformist boys based on questionable evidence.

Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky | Stars: Tony Brooks, Diana Davis, Terry Wood, Dick Clay

Votes: 14,032


One of the first, and most intriguing (and at the same time, sickening) documentaries to show the absolutely absurdity that is the US justice system, and how they can and are willing to squash any human being as long as they are not wealthy and/or powerful.

The lengths that this system goes to, to keep certain people in jail (even with overwhelming evidence of their innocence) with nothing but circumstantial evidence which is paper thin at best, is a real eye opener.

This is a real shocker, one of those documentaries in which you will find the need to binge watch all 3 addendum's and all the stand alone documentaries, movies and books on the subject.

Once this is seen, you will never be able to see the US justice system in the same light again.

5. Only the Dead (2015)

TV-MA | 77 min | Documentary, Biography, History

Australian journalist Michael Ware's experiences in Iraq during the 2003 war and after.

Directors: Bill Guttentag, Michael Ware | Stars: Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, Michael Ware

Votes: 2,980


I absolutely LOVED this doco, however, be warned, it is INCREDIBLY intense. The violence and graphic nature of this gritty conflict is show in full detail and the documentary maker goes as deep as i have ever seen any foreigner go into the world of the suicide bombers.

This guy honestly has some of the biggest balls i have ever witnessed.



You have been warned...

6. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

82 Metascore

A filmmaker decides to memorialize a murdered friend when his friend's ex-girlfriend announces she is expecting his son.

Director: Kurt Kuenne | Stars: Kurt Kuenne, Andrew Bagby, David Bagby, Kathleen Bagby

Votes: 30,042


One of the most heartbreaking things i have ever seen. A clear example of the leeway given to Women in the western societies and the obvious failure (once again) witnessed in the justice systems of the USA and it's neighbour Canada.

7. Cosmos (1980)

TV-PG | 60 min | Documentary

Astronomer Carl Sagan leads us on an engaging guided tour of the various elements and cosmological theories of the universe.

Stars: Carl Sagan, Jaromír Hanzlík, Jonathan Fahn, Alan Belod

Votes: 32,725


8. 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: 9,391 | Gross: $0.31M


Peter and Fran Jackson give us a fresh look at the WM3 case as they re-examine it, bringing to light extraordinary evidence with the aid of some of the worlds most renowned experts in their respective fields (such as forensic investigators etc.)

A must watch for those who watched Paradise Lost 1, 2 and 3 or even those who have never heard of the case.

It's best to start with the original Paradise Lost however, this should really be considered an addendum or the fourth part in the series.

9. Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (2000 TV Movie)

Unrated | 130 min | Documentary, Crime

The case of the West Memphis Three, its questionable circumstances and the parties involved are followed up years later.

Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky | Stars: Damien Wayne Echols, Melissa Byers, Norris Deajon, Tim Sullivan

Votes: 7,456


Continues with case against the WM3 (West Memphis 3) and the new evidence and new revelations, hence the title.

10. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (2011)

Not Rated | 121 min | Documentary, Crime

85 Metascore

A further followup of the case of the West Memphis Three and the decades long fight to exonerate them that finally gained traction with new DNA evidence.

Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky | Stars: Gary Gitchell, Todd Moore, Dana Moore, Pam Hobbs

Votes: 8,524


The final chapter in the WM3 case.

11. 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: 4,365


12. 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: 9,587 | Gross: $1.44M


13. Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (2003–2010)

TV-MA | 30 min | Comedy, Documentary

The comedy illusionist duo explore various topics and debunk what they consider misconceptions about them.

Stars: Penn Jillette, Teller, Shera Pollins, Gene Hatcher

Votes: 11,229


Such a shame this was so glossed over, it was one of the greatest running tv shows about things that make us wonder, things we scoff at and things we don't understand or accept/deny.

An eye opening experience in every episode.

Can't recommend it enough.

14. 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: 20,171 | Gross: $1.21M


Eroll Morris does it like no other.

An in depth analysis of two men who met one fateful night which lead to a trajectory of nothing but sadness and the film maker who finally got to the truth.

15. 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: 42,716 | Gross: $0.89M


Wow... You can't make this stuff up.

This is more uncanny than most movies.

16. High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell (1995 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 60 min | Documentary

Documents 18 months in the lives of three crack addicts in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Directors: Maryann DeLeo, Richard Farrell | Star: Dicky Eklund

Votes: 653


As real and gritty as it gets.

17. 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, Steven Burg

Votes: 56,364 | Gross: $13.00M


A look into the ridiculous (and frankly, ignorant, naive and moronic) world of Christianity in America.

Bill Maher shows the absurdity of the concept of unconditional faith.

If you are interested in religion, one way or the other, this is a MUST WATCH.

Educate yourself!

18. The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015)

TV-14 | 279 min | Documentary, Crime

Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki examines the complicated life of reclusive real estate icon Robert Durst, the key suspect in a series of unsolved crimes.

Stars: Robert Durst, Andrew Jarecki, Gary Napoli, Debra Kay Anderson

Votes: 34,477


A great documentary dealing with, yet again, the might of the justice system and it's leniency and flat out corruption when it comes to dealing with the rich and powerful.

If you think OJ got off easily, you'll be AMAZED at what this documentary series reveals.

19. The Killing of America (1981)

R | 90 min | Documentary, Crime

A documentary of the decline of America. It features a lot a great footage (most exclusive to this film) from race riots to serial killers and much-much more.

Directors: Sheldon Renan, Leonard Schrader | Stars: Chuck Riley, Ed Dorris, Thomas Noguchi, Sirhan Sirhan

Votes: 1,639


One of the most graphic documentaries ever made, it shows the way the US is killing itself and the violence inherent in its society.

20. Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (2008)

R | 120 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

73 Metascore

A portrait of the late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

Director: Alex Gibney | Stars: Hunter S. Thompson, Johnny Depp, Joe Cairo, David Carlo

Votes: 7,205 | Gross: $1.25M


A very interesting look into the life and times of the man who wrote "Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas" Hunter S Thomson.

21. Zeitgeist: Moving Forward (2011)

Not Rated | 161 min | Documentary

A feature length documentary work which presents a case for a needed transition out of the current socioeconomic monetary paradigm which governs the entire world society.

Director: Peter Joseph | Stars: Peter Joseph, Robert Sapolsky, Gabor Mate, Richard Wilkinson

Votes: 16,992


22. Zeitgeist: Addendum (2008 Video)

Not Rated | 123 min | Documentary, History, War

Zeitgeist: Addendum attempts to locate the root causes of the pervasive social corruption, while also offering a solution.

Director: Peter Joseph | Stars: Jacque Fresco, Roxanne Meadows, John Perkins, George Carlin

Votes: 17,249


23. Citizenfour (2014)

R | 114 min | Documentary, Biography, News

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: 48,901 | Gross: $2.80M


A deep and stunning look at the Edward Snowden situation and the forces who desperately attempt to keep him silent.

24. American: The Bill Hicks Story (2009)

Not Rated | 102 min | Documentary, Animation, Biography

55 Metascore

Photo-animated feature documentary, uniquely narrated by the 10 people who knew Bill best.

Directors: Matt Harlock, Paul Thomas | Stars: Bill Hicks, Dwight Slade, Mary Hicks, Steve Hicks

Votes: 4,632 | Gross: $0.09M


A great man and a great documentary about him. A comedian/philosopher who's words will live in infamy.

25. Freedom Downtime (2001)

Unrated | 121 min | Documentary, Adventure

A feature length documentary about the Free Kevin movement and the hacker world.

Director: Emmanuel Goldstein | Stars: Mark Abene, Ed Cummings, Robert Darlington, Emmanuel Goldstein

Votes: 955


This documentary deals with hackers and the way they are treated in the US.

26. The Seven Five (2014)

R | 104 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

69 Metascore

Meet the dirtiest cop in NYC history. Michael Dowd stole money and dealt drugs while patrolling the streets of 80s Brooklyn.

Director: Tiller Russell | Stars: Mike Dowd, Ken Eurell, Walter Yurkiw, Chickie

Votes: 4,842 | Gross: $0.01M


27. The Central Park Five (2012)

Not Rated | 119 min | Documentary, Crime, History

79 Metascore

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.

Directors: Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon | Stars: Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Kharey Wise, Raymond Santana

Votes: 6,390 | Gross: $0.27M


28. Exporting Raymond (2010)

PG | 86 min | Documentary, Comedy

55 Metascore

A documentary on Phil Rosenthal's experiences during the making of "Voroniny," the Russian-language version of "Everybody Loves Raymond".

Director: Philip Rosenthal | Stars: Philip Rosenthal, Peter Boyle, Stanislav Duzhnikov, Eldar

Votes: 1,612 | Gross: $0.08M


A hilarious look at the man who created "Everybody Loves Raymond" and his role in its exportation and recreation in Russia.

29. Into the Abyss (2011)

PG-13 | 107 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama

74 Metascore

Conversations with death row inmate Michael Perry and those affected by his crime serve as an examination of why people - and the state - kill.

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Werner Herzog, Richard Lopez, Michael Perry, Damon Hall

Votes: 15,056 | Gross: $0.22M


30. Dinosaur 13 (2014)

PG | 95 min | Documentary

66 Metascore

A documentary about the discovery of the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil ever found.

Director: Todd Douglas Miller | Stars: Stan Adelstein, Lanice Archer, Robert Bakker, Philip Currie

Votes: 3,348


Another amazing look at the power and might of the US's willingness to crush the little guy.

32. Horizon (1964– )
Episode: Science Under Attack (2011)


Nobel Prize winner Sir Paul Nurse examines why science appears to be under attack, and why public trust in key scientific theories has been eroded.

Director: Emma Jay | Stars: Paul Nurse, Robert Bindschadler, James Delingpole, Jonathan Jones

Votes: 38

33. 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: 26,877 | Gross: $0.30M

34. Most Evil (2006–2015)

TV-14 | 44 min | Documentary, Crime

Series follows Columbia University's Michael Stone as he searches for the roots of evil in human beings by exploring acts committed by infamous criminals and ordinary people which he rates on his "scale of evil".

Stars: Michael Stone, Tim Hopper, Kris Mohandie, Robert Sciglimpaglia

Votes: 747

35. Horizon (1964– )
Episode: Why Do We Dream? (2009)


Horizon uncovers the secret world of our dreams. In a series of cutting-edge experiments and personal stories, we go in search of the science behind this most enduring mystery and ask: ... See full summary »

Director: Charles Colville | Stars: Steven Mackintosh, Deirdre Barrett, Justin Douglas, Erica Harris

Votes: 50

36. Louis and the Nazis (2003 TV Movie)

70 min | Documentary

Louis Theroux travels to California to meet the man dubbed "the most dangerous racist in America"; Tom Metzger, his family and his publicity manager. Louis also meets 'Prussian Blue' an American white-nationalist preteen musical sibling duo.

Director: Stuart Cabb | Stars: Louis Theroux, April Gaede, Bill Gaede, Lamb Gaede

Votes: 1,706

37. Masters of Darkness (2002– )
Episode: The Wickedest Man in the World (2002)

50 min | Documentary

Famous for his occult writings, founder of the religion of Thelema, which became adopted by the Ordo Templis Orientis (O.T.O.) as well as the magical order Argenteum Astrum, the Order of the Silver Star.

Director: Neil Rawles | Stars: Brian Cox, Aleister Crowley, Gavin Baddeley, Colin Wilson

Votes: 147

38. A Complete History of My Sexual Failures (2008)

Unrated | 90 min | Documentary, Comedy

A humorous look at life for a loser in love.

Director: Chris Waitt | Stars: Aleksandra Boyarskaya, Danielle McLeod, Olivia Trench, Chris Waitt

Votes: 3,656

39. 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: 12,855 | Gross: $0.31M

40. Super Size Me (2004)

PG | 100 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama

73 Metascore

While examining the influence of the fast food industry, Morgan Spurlock personally explores the consequences on his health of a diet of solely McDonald's food for one month.

Director: Morgan Spurlock | Stars: Morgan Spurlock, Daryl Isaacs, Chemeeka Walker, Dania Abu-Rmaileh

Votes: 96,738 | Gross: $11.53M

41. Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life (2009 TV Movie)

59 min | Documentary

A documentary about evolution.

Star: David Attenborough

Votes: 1,851

42. The Nazis: A Warning from History (1997– )

292 min | Documentary, History, War

An examination of how a cultured people could have allowed Adolf Hitler's rise to power.

Stars: Samuel West, Adolf Buchner, Jutta Rüdiger, Günther Ruschin

Votes: 1,478

43. Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey (2000 Video)

PG | 100 min | Documentary, Action, Biography

A documentary showing the life of Bruce Lee up-close.

Directors: John Little, Bruce Lee | Stars: Bruce Lee, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Peter Archer, Sun-Man Bae

Votes: 2,609

44. Hyperspace (2001)

180 min | Documentary

Explore the wonders of our universe with Sam Neill.

Star: Sam Neill

Votes: 1,343

46. Stephen Hawking's Universe (2010– )


In this comprehensive cosmology series Stephen Hawking looks at the entire universe, from the Big Bang to the end of time.

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Hawking, Melissa Ricci, Christopher Goh

Votes: 4,717

47. A Brief History of Time (1991)

G | 80 min | Documentary, Biography

78 Metascore

A film about the life and work of the cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, who despite his near total paralysis, was one of the great minds of all time.

Director: Errol Morris | Stars: Stephen Hawking, Isobel Hawking, Janet Humphrey, Mary Hawking

Votes: 4,876 | Gross: $2.28M

48. We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists (2012)

Not Rated | 93 min | Documentary