Top Docs

Below is a list of almost 400 recommended documentary films, in alphabetical order. I have watched — and enjoyed — every film on the list. I have placed an asterisk (*) immediately after titles that are among my all-time favorites.

For several years I made an effort to include at least one link for each film I listed, to allow readers to learn a little more about the film. I added links to the Internet Movie Database website (IMDb), to trailers (TR) or extended trailers (TR+),  to Wikipedia articles (WK), to reviews on other sites (RV), to Doc-Lands.com pages (DL), and links to complete films (FILM).

I have now stopped adding these links since I have come to believe that the best way to find information on most films is to do a Google search for the title of the film, followed by the word “documentary.”

FILMS:

  • 7 Plus Seven . . . DL
  • 21 Up (*) . . . DL
  • 28 Up (*) . . . DL
  • 35 Up (*) . . . DL . . . RV
  • 42 Up (*) . . . TR . . . DL
  • 49 Up (*) . . . TR . . . DL
  • 50 Year Argument . . .
  • 51 Birch Street (*) . . . TR . . . FILM
  • 56 Up (*) . . . TR
  • 112 Weddings . . .
  • Actress . . .
  • Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry . . . TR
  • After Innocence (*) . . . TR
  • Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer (*) . . . TR
  • Aileen Wuormos: Selling of a Serial Killer (*) . . . FILM
  • Ain’t in it for my Health . . . 
  • Alive Inside (*) . . . FW
  • The Ambassador and Me . . . TR
  • Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who . . . TR
  • The Amazing Race (TV series) . . . SW
  • Amazon Gold . . . TR
  • American Movie . . . TR
  • Among the Wild Chimpanzees . . TR+ . . . DL
  • Amy . . .
  • Anne Frank Remembered (*) . . . TR
  • Anvil! The Story of Anvil . . . TR
  • Apollonian Story (*) . . . FW
  • Arguing the World (*) . . . TR
  • Armadillo (*) . . . TR
  • The Armstrong Lie . . . FW
  • The Art of the Steal . . . TR
  • Atari: Game Over . . .
  • At Berkeley . . . FW
  • Author: the J. T Leroy Story (*) . . .
  • Autism: The Musical (*) . . . TR
  • Autumn Gold . . . TR
  • Babies . . . TR
  • Back to Mandima (*) . . . FW
  • Backyard . . . TR
  • Beer Wars . . . TR
  • Being Elmo . . . TR . . . DL
  • Being Evel (*) . . .
  • The Bengali Detective (*) . . . TR 
  • Best Boy (*) . . . IMDb
  • Best Kept Secret (*) . . . FW
  • Best Worst Movie (*) . . . TR
  • Between the Folds . . . FW
  • Big River Man (*) . . . TR
  • Bigger, Stronger, Faster (*) . . . TR
  • Blackfish . . . FW
  • Blind Spot . . .
  • Blue Vinyl . . .
  • Bobby Fischer Against the World (*) . . . TR
  • Book of Days . . . IMDb
  • Born Into Brothels (*) . . . TR
  • The Boys of Baraka (*) . . . TR
  • A Brief History of Time . . . FILM
  • The Bridge . . .
  • Bright Leaves . . . TR
  • Broken Doors . . . TR Capturing_the_Friedmans_poster
  • Brother’s Keeper (*) . . . TR
  • Bulletproof Salesman . . . TR
  • Bully . . . FW
  • Call of the Wild . . .
  • Captivated: The Pamela Smart Story (*) . . . IMDb
  • Capturing the Friedmans (*) . . . TR
  • Cartel Land (*) . . .
  • Catfish (*) . . . FM
  • Cave of Forgotten Dreams . . . FW
  • A Certain Kind of Death . . .
  • Chasing Tyson . . .
  • Chimpanzee . . . TR
  • Cinema Komunisto . . . TR
  • CitizenFour (*) . . .
  • Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (*) . . . TR
  • Comedian . . . TR
  • The Control Room . . . IMDb
  • Cool It . . . IMDb
  • Cosmos . . .
  • Crossed Out . . . FW
  • Crossfire Hurricane . . .
  • Crossing the Bridge . . . IMDb
  • Crumb . . . TR
  • Culloden . . . TR+
  • The Danish Solution . . . TR
  • Daughter from Danang (*) . . . TR
  • David McCullough: Painting with Words . . .
  • Dear Zachary . . . TR
  • Deliver us from Evil (*) . . . TR . . . DL
  • Detropia . . . TR
  • Disco and Atomic War (*) . . . TR
  • Divan . . .
  • Don’t Stop Believin’ . . . TR
  • Eating Alabama . . . TR
  • Elevate . . . FW
  • The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (*) . . . 
  • Enemies of the People (*) . . . TR
  • Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room . . . TR
  • Ethel . . . RV
  • Every Little Step (*) . . . IDMb
  • Exit Through the Gift Shop (*) . . . TR
  • Exporting Raymond (*) . . . TR
  • The Eyes of Tammy Faye (*) . . . TR
  • Fairy Tale of the Three Bears . . . FW
  • Family Nightmare . . . TR
  • Famous Nathan . . .
  • Farmingville (*) . . . TR
  • Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control (*) . . . RV
  • Festival Express . . . TR
  • Finding Vivian Maier (*) . . . FW
  • First Cousin, Once Removed . . . IMDb
  • First Position . . . TR Following Sean
  • Five Broken Cameras . . . TR
  • Flowers from the Mount of Olives . . . FW
  • The Fog of War . . . TR
  • Following Sean . . . TR
  • Forty Minutes of Hell . . . TR
  • Freakonomics . . . FW
  • Freedom Summer . . .
  • Friends of God . . .
  • From Nothing, Something . . . TR
  • Frontrunners . . .
  • The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden . . .
  • Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens. . . TR
  • The Gatekeepers (*) . . . FW
  • Gates of Heaven (*) . . . TR
  • George Orwell: A Life in Pictures . . . TR
  • Ghosts of Rwanda . . . IMDb
  • A Girl Like Her . . . TR Harvard Beats Yale
  • Girl Model (*) . . . FW
  • Give Up Tomorrow (*) . . . TR
  • Gleason . . .
  • God is the Bigger Elvis . . .
  • The Goebbels Experiment (*) . . . TR
  • Going Clear (*) . . .
  • Good Ol’ Freda . . .
  • Google Baby (*) . . . TR
  • The Gospel According to Phillip K. Dick (*) . . . TR
  • Grey Gardens . . . TR
  • Guilty Pleasures (*) . . . TR
  • Hands on a Hard Body (*) . . . TR
  • Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (*) . . . TR
  • Happy Valley . . . IMDb
  • Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 (*) . . . TR
  • Hearts of Darkness (*) . . . RV
  • Hell and Back Again (*) . . . TR
  • Helvetica (*) . . . TR
  • Herb and Dorothy . . . TR
  • History of the Eagles . . . IMDb
  • Hitler’s Children . . . IMDb
  • The Hobart Shakespeareans (*) . . . TR
  • Hooligan Sparrow . . .
  • Hoop Dreams (*) . . . TR . . . DL
  • Hot Coffee (*) . . . TR
  • The House I Live In (*) . . . TR
  • How to Die in Oregon (*) . . . TR
  • I Am Big Bird . . .
  • I Hate Christian Laettner . . .
  • I Like Killing Flies. . .
  • I Survived BTK . . . FILM
  • I Think We’re Alone Now (*) . . . TR
  • Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp (*) . . . IMDb
  • If a Tree Falls . . . TR
  • If You Build It . . . FW
  • The Imposter (*) . . . TR
  • Independents’ Day . . . IMDb
  • Indie Game: The Movie (*) . . . FW
  • In God We Trust . . . IMDb
  • In the Realms of the Unreal (*) . . . IMDb
  • The Interrupters . . . TR
  • The Invisible War (*) . . . TR
  • The Island President . . . FW
  • Ivory Tower . . . FW
  • Janice: Little Girl Blue (*) . . .
  • Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet (*) . . . TR
  • Jesse Owens . . . TR
  • Jesus Camp (*) . . . TR
  • Jig. . . IMDb
  • The Jinx (*) . . .
  • Jiro Dreams of Sushi (*) . . . . TR
  • Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (*) . . . TR
  • Jodorowsky’s Dune . . . FW
  • Jordan Rides the Bus . . . IMDb
  • Joseph Brodsky: A Maddening Space . . . RV
  • Journeys with George . . . RV
  • June 17th, 1994 (*) . . . IMDb
  • Kate Plays Christine . . .
  • Katy Perry: Part of Me . . . TR
  • The Kids Grow Up . . . TR
  • The King of Kong (*) . . . IMDb
  • Kingdom of David: The Saga of the Israelites . . . FILM
  • Kings of Pastry (*) . . . TR
  • Kiss the Paper . . . TR
  • Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck . . .
  • Last Cup: The Road to the LovingStory-DVD-FWorld Series of Beer Pong (*) . . . TR
  • Last Days in Vietnam (*) . . .
  • Last Train Home (*) . . . TR
  • The Last Waltz (*) . . . TR
  • The Law in these Parts . . . IMDb
  • Led Zeppelin Played Here . . .
  • Let the Fire Burn (*) . . . IMDb
  • Letter: An American Town and the Somali Invasion . . . IMDb
  • Life, Animated (*) . . .
  • Life Itself (*) . . .
  • The Linguists . . . TR
  • Lion Ark . . . FW
  • The Lost Boys of Sudan . . . TR
  • The Loving Story (*) . . . TR
  • The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear (*) . . . IMDb
  • Mad Hot Ballroom (*) . . . TR
  • Magic Trip . . . TR Man on Wire
  • Man of Aran . . . TR
  • The Man Nobody Knew . . . TR
  • Man on Wire (*) . . . TR
  • Man With a Movie Camera . . . Film
  • Manda Bala (*) . . . IMDb
  • Mansome . . . IMDb
  • March of the Penguins . . . TR
  • Marion Jones: Press Pause . . . 
  • The Marinovich Project . . . FILM
  • Marley (*) . . . TR . . . DL
  • A Matter of Taste . . . TR
  • Me and Isaac Newton . . . TR
  • Medora (*) . . . FW
  • Metallica: Some Kind of Monster . . . TR
  • Michael Jackson’s This is It . . . TR
  • Minka . . . TR
  • Monica & David . . . TR
  • Monkey Trial . . . FW
  • The Mormons . . . FW
  • Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (*) . . . TR
  • The Murals of Lincoln Perry . . . TR
  • Murderball . . . IMDb
  • Muscle Shoals (*) . . . FW
  • Must Read After My Death . . . IMDb
  • My Architect . . . IMDb
  • My Kid Could Paint That (*) . . . IMDb
  • My Perestroika . . . TR
  • My Scientology Movie (*) . . .
  • The Natural History of the Chicken . . . TR
  • Nanook of the North . . . FILM
  • Neil Young: Heart of Gold . . . TR
  • Neil Young: Journeys . . . IMDb
  • Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Rust Never Sleeps. . . TR
  • Night and Fog . . . TR+
  • Neurotypical . . . IMDb
  • No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson . . . TR 
  • No, No: A Dockumentary (*) . . .
  • Nursery University . . . TR
  • Nuts (*) . . .
  • Of Two Minds (*) . . . IMDb
  • O. J. Simpson: Made in America . . . 
  • One Day in September (*) . . . TR
  • The Order of Myths (*) . . . TR
  • Out of the Clear Blue Sky . . .
  • Out of Ireland . . . IMDb
  • The Overnighters (*) . . . FW
  • Page One: Inside the New York Times . . . TR
  • Paper Clips . . . TR
  • Paradise Lost (*) . . . TR
  • Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (*) . . . TR+
  • Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (*) . . . TR
  • Particle Fever . . . FW
  • Paul Goodman Changed My Life . . . FW
  • Peace Officer (*) . . .
  • A People Uncounted . . . TR
  • Photographic Memory . . . TR
  • Picture Me . . . TR
  • A Place of Our Own . . . TR
  • Please Vote for Me (*) . . . IMDb
  • Plimpton! . . .
  • Position Among the Stars (*) . . . TR
  • Poster Girl . . .TR project-nim-poster
  • Private Universe . . . IMDb
  • Project Nim (*) . . . TR . . . DL
  • Public Speaking (*) . . .
  • Pumping Iron (*) . . . TR
  • The Queen of Versailles (*) . . . RV
  • The Rape of Europa . . . TR
  • The Real Rocky . . . IMDb
  • Remote Area Medical (*) . . . IMDb
  • Restrepo . . . TR
  • Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (*) . . . TR
  • Revolutionary Optimists . . . FW
  • Rich Hill (*) . . . FW
  • Roger and Me . . . TR
  • The Rolling Stones: Gimme Shelter . . . TR
  • The Rolling Stones in Exile . . . TR
  • Room 237 (*) . . . IMDb
  • Running on the Sun . . . TR
  • Running the Sahara . . . TR
  • Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage . . . TR
  • Salinger . . . IMDb
  • Searching for Sugarman (*) . . . TR
  • Secrets of the Tribe (*) . . . 
  • Seeking Asian Female (*) . . . TR
  • Senna (*) . . . TR
  • The September Issue . . . TR
  • Seven Up! . . . DL
  • Shakespeare Behind Bars (*) . . . TR
  • Shape of the Moon (*) . . . TR
  • Sherman’s March (*) . . . TR
  • Shoah (*) . . . TR
  • Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness . . . IMDb 
  • Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech . . . TR
  • Slaying the Badger . . .
  • A Small Act (*) . . . FW
  • Somm . . . IMDb
  • Sound and Fury (*) . . . TR
  • Southern Comfort . . . TR
  • Special Flight (*) . . . TR (French)
  • Spellbound (*) . . . TR
  • Spirit of the Marathon . . . TR
  • Square Grouper . . . TR
  • The Staircase (*) . . .
  • Standard Operating Procedure . . . TR
  • Startup.com (*) . . . TR
  • Step Up to the Plate . . . IMDb
  • Steam of Life . . . TR
  • Stevie (*) . . . TR
  • The Stone Carvers . . . TR
  • Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream . . . 
  • Strong! . . . TR
  • Supermensch: the Legend of Shep Gordon (*) . . . IMDb
  • Super Size Me . . . TR
  • The Swell Season . . . IMDb
  • Tabloid (*) . . . TR . . . DL 
  • Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense . . . TR
  • Tea or Electricity . . . TR
  • That Guy . . . Who Was in That Thing . . . IDMb
  • The Thin Blue Line (*) . . . RV
  • This Emotional Life . . . TR
  • This Film is Not Yet Rated . . . TR
  • The Time We Have . . . TR
  • Thunder Soul . . . IMDb
  • Time Zero (*) . . . TR
  • Tim’s Vermeer (*) . . . IMDb
  • Trekkies (*) . . . TR
  • The Trouble with Tolstoy . . . IMDb
  • The True Meaning of Pictures (*) . . . IMDbTwenty Feet
  • Twenty Feet from Stardom (*) . . . IMDb
  • Two Weeks in Hell . . . IMDb
  • Tyson (*) . . . TR
  • Undefeated . . . FW
  • Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story . . . FW
  • Unguarded . . . Film
  • The Unknown Known  . . .
  • Unknown White Male (*) . . .
  • Venus and Serena . . IMDb
  • Vernon, Florida . . . TR+
  • Very Semi-Serious (*) . . .
  • Vintage: The Winemaker’s Year. . . TR
  • Waiting for Superman . . . TR
  • The Waiting Room (*) . . . TR
  • Waltz with Bashir . . . TR
  • The War Room . . . TR
  • Warriors of Quigang . . . TR
  • Waste Land (*) . . . FW
  • Watermarks . . . IMDb
  • Weiner (*) . . .
  • We Live in Public (*) . . . TR . . . FW
  • When the Levees Broke . . . IMDb
  • When We Were Kings (*) . . . TR
  • The Wild Wonderful Whites of West Virginia (*) . . . TR
  • Windfall . . . TR
  • Winnebago Man (*) . . . TR
  • The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl . . . TR
  • The Woodmans (*) . . . TR
  • Woodstock . . . TR
  • Woody Allen: A Documentary . . . TR
  • Word Wars (*) . . . TR
  • Wordplay (*) . . . TR
  • The World Before Her (*) . . . TR
  • World Peace and Other Fourth Grade Achievements . . . TR+
  • Zizhek! . . . TR

4 Responses to Top Docs

  1. fred says:

    Thanks for the very useful list!

  2. Rt says:

    May I respectfully add two titles, both of which won Academy Awards: The Long Way Home and Into The Arms of Strangers.

  3. admin says:

    Thanks for posting these recommendations. Both of them look like great films. I’ve added them to my rather long “to see” list and hope to add them to the website when I have had a chance to see them. There are a lot of powerful and moving documentaries about this dark chapter in world history, as well as some good feature films that are based closely on real life events, including Conspiracy, Downfall, and Europa, Europa.

  4. TZ says:

    I think Doc-Lands is a nice blog post.

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