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Movies: Best Documentaries Movies

A documentary film is a nonfictional motion picture intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction, education, or maintaining a historical record. Such films were originally shot on film stock—the only medium available—but now include video and digital productions that can be either direct-to-video, made into a TV show, or released for screening in cinemas. "Documentary" has been described as a "filmmaking practice, a cinematic tradition, and mode of audience reception" that is continually evolving and is without clear boundaries. ()

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Super Size Me(2004)

PG-13
| 1h 40min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama
3.4/5 (with 340 votes)

Morgan Spurlock subjects himself to a diet based only on McDonald's fast food three times a day for thirty days without exercising to try to prove why so many Americans are fat or obese. He submits himself to a complete check-up by three doctors, comparing his weight along the way, resulting in a scary conclusion.

Directed by Morgan Spurlock - With Morgan Spurlock

Citizenfour(2014)

R
| 1h 54min | Documentary
4.0/5 (with 310 votes)

In June 2013, Laura Poitras and reporter Glenn Greenwald flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with Edward Snowden. She brought her camera with her. The film that resulted from this series of tense encounters is absolutely sui generis in the history of cinema: a 100% real-life thriller unfolding minute by minute before our eyes. Poitras is a great and brave filmmaker, but she is also a masterful storyteller: she compresses the many days of questioning, waiting, confirming, watching the world’s reaction and agonizing over the next move, into both a great character study of Snowden and a narrative that will leave you on the edge of your seat as it inexorably moves toward its conclusion.

Directed by Laura Poitras - With Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, William Edward Binney, Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, Jacob Appelbaum, ...

Bowling for Columbine(2002)

R
| 2h | Documentary
3.8/5 (with 307 votes)

Why do 11,000 people die in America each year at the hands of gun violence? Talking heads yelling from every TV camera blame everything from Satan to video games. But are we that much different from many other countries? What sets us apart? How have we become both the master and victim of such enormous amounts of violence? This is not a film about gun control. It is a film about the fearful heart and soul of the United States, and the 280 million Americans lucky enough to have the right to a constitutionally protected Uzi. From a look at the Columbine High School security camera tapes to the home of Oscar-winning NRA President Charlton Heston, from a young man who makes homemade napalm with The Anarchist's Cookbook to the murder of a six-year-old girl by another six-year-old, Bowling for Columbine is a journey through America, through our past, hoping to discover why our pursuit of happiness is so riddled with violence.

Directed by Michael Moore - With Michael Moore, Charlton Heston, Marilyn Manson, Matt Stone, Salvador Allende, George H. W. Bush, ...

Amy(2015)

R
| 2h 8min | Documentary, Music
3.8/5 (with 297 votes)

A documentary on the life of Amy Winehouse, the immensely talented yet doomed songstress. We see her from her teen years, where she already showed her singing abilities, to her finding success and then her downward spiral into alcoholism and drugs.

Directed by Asif Kapadia - With Amy Winehouse, Jonathan Ross, Janis Seaton, Mitch Winehouse, Bobby Womack, Mos Def, ...

Blackfish(2013)

PG-13
| 1h 23min | Documentary
4.0/5 (with 279 votes)

Notorious killer whale Tilikum is responsible for the deaths of three individuals, including a top killer whale trainer. Blackfish shows the sometimes devastating consequences of keeping such intelligent and sentient creatures in captivity.

Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite - With Tilikum, James Earl Jones, Dawn Brancheau, Whoopi Goldberg, Meredith Vieira

Jackass 3D(2010)

R
| 1h 34min | Comedy, Documentary, Action
3.2/5 (with 275 votes)

Jackass 3D is a 3-D film and the third movie of the Jackass series. It follows the same premise as the first two movies, as well as the TV series. It is a compilation of various pranks, stunts and skits. Before the movie begins, a brief introduction is made by Beavis and Butt-head explaining the 3D technology behind the movie. The intro features the cast lining up and then being attacked by various objects in slow-motion. The movie marks the 10th anniversary of the franchise, started in 2000.

Directed by Jeff Tremaine - With Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Ryan Dunn, Steve-O, Jason Acuña, Chris Pontius, ...

Fahrenheit 9/11(2004)

2h 2min | Documentary
3.5/5 (with 266 votes)

Michael Moore's view on what happened to the United States after September 11; and how the Bush Administration allegedly used the tragic event to push forward its agenda for unjust wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Directed by Michael Moore - With Michael Moore, George W. Bush

Jackass: The Movie(2002)

R
| 1h 27min | Comedy, Documentary
3.0/5 (with 251 votes)

Johnny Knoxville and his crazy friends appear on the big screen for the very first time in Jackass: The Movie. They wander around Japan in panda outfits, wreak havoc on a once civilized golf course, they even do stunts involving LIVE alligators, and so on. While Johnny Knoxvile and his pals put their life at risk, they are entertaining people at the same time. Get ready for Jackass: The Movie!!

Directed by Jeff Tremaine - With Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Chris Pontius, Steve-O, Ryan Dunn, Jason Acuña, ...

March of the Penguins(2005)

G
| 1h 20min | Documentary, Kids & Family
3.5/5 (with 240 votes)

Every year, thousands of Antarctica's emperor penguins make an astonishing journey to breed their young. They walk, marching day and night in single file 70 miles into the darkest, driest and coldest continent on Earth. Morgan Freeman narrates this amazing, true-life tale touched with humour and alive with thrills. Breathtaking photography captures the transcendent beauty and staggering drama of devoted parent penguins who, in the fierce polar winter, take turns guarding their egg and trekking to the ocean in search of food. Predators hunt them, storms lash them. But the safety of their adorable chicks makes it all worthwhile. So follow the leader ... to adventure!!

Directed by Luc Jacquet - With Romane Bohringer, Charles Berling, Jules Sitruk, Morgan Freeman, Gösta Ekman

Jackass Number Two(2006)

R
| 1h 35min | Action, Comedy, Documentary
3.1/5 (with 200 votes)

Jackass Number Two is a compilation of various stunts, pranks and skits, and essentially has no plot. Chris Pontius, Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Bam Margera, and the whole crew return to the screen to raise the stakes higher than ever before.

Directed by Jeff Tremaine - With Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Chris Pontius, Steve-O, Ryan Dunn, Dave England, ...

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief(2015)

1h 59min | Documentary
3.9/5 (with 199 votes)

Going Clear intimately profiles eight former members of the Church of Scientology, shining a light on how they attract true believers and the things they do in the name of religion.

Directed by Alex Gibney - With Mark Rathbun, Mike Rinder, Tony Ortega, Jason Beghe, Paul Haggis, Sherry Stringfield, ...

Exit Through the Gift Shop(2010)

R
| 1h 27min | Documentary
3.9/5 (with 192 votes)

Banksy is a graffiti artist with a global reputation whose work can be seen on walls from post-hurricane New Orleans to the separation barrier on the Palestinian West Bank. Fiercely guarding his anonymity to avoid prosecution, Banksy has so far resisted all attempts to be captured on film. Exit Through the Gift Shop tells the incredible true story of how an eccentric French shop keeper turned documentary maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner.

Directed by Banksy - With Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Mr. Brainwash, Rhys Ifans, Invader, André, ...

Man on Wire(2008)

PG-13
| 1h 34min | Thriller, Documentary, Crime, History
3.8/5 (with 189 votes)

On August 7th 1974, French tightrope walker Philippe Petit stepped out on a high wire, illegally rigged between New York's World Trade Center twin towers, then the world's tallest buildings. After nearly an hour of performing on the wire, 1,350 feet above the sidewalks of Manhattan, he was arrested. This fun and spellbinding documentary chronicles Philippe Petit's "highest" achievement.

Directed by James Marsh - With Philippe Petit

Inside Job(2010)

PG-13
| 1h 49min | Documentary
3.9/5 (with 188 votes)

A film that exposes the shocking truth behind the economic crisis of 2008. The global financial meltdown, at a cost of over $20 trillion, resulted in millions of people losing their homes and jobs. Through extensive research and interviews with major financial insiders, politicians and journalists, Inside Job traces the rise of a rogue industry and unveils the corrosive relationships which have corrupted politics, regulation and academia.

Directed by Charles Ferguson - With Matt Damon

Searching for Sugar Man(2012)

PG-13
| 1h 25min | Documentary, Music
4.0/5 (with 183 votes)

Two South Africans set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock 'n' roller, Rodriguez. The film won Best Documentary at the 85th Academy Awards.

Directed by Malik Bendjelloul - With Sixto Rodriguez

Senna(2010)

PG-13
| 1h 46min | Documentary
4.1/5 (with 172 votes)

Senna's remarkable story, charting his physical and spiritual achievments on the track and off, his quest for perfection, and the mythical status he has since attained, is the subject of Senna, a documentary feature that spans the racing legend's years as an F1 driver, from his opening season in 1984 to his untimely death a decade later.

Directed by Asif Kapadia - With Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Frank Williams, Ron Dennis, Jackie Stewart, Sid Watkins, ...

Cobain: Montage of Heck(2015)

NR
| 2h 12min | Documentary, Music
3.8/5 (with 169 votes)

The authorized documentary on late Guitar/lead singer Kurt Cobain from his early days in Aberdeen Washington to his success and downfall with Grunge band Nirvana.

Directed by Brett Morgen - With Chad Channing, Kurt Cobain, Dale Crover, Jason Everman, Dave Grohl, Courtney Love, ...

An Inconvenient Truth(2006)

PG
| 1h 40min | Documentary
3.5/5 (with 168 votes)

A documentary on Al Gore's campaign to make the issue of global warming a recognized problem worldwide.

Directed by Davis Guggenheim - With Al Gore

The Imposter(2012)

R
| 1h 35min | Documentary, Drama
3.7/5 (with 168 votes)

It’s 1994: a 13-year-old boy disappears from his home in San Antonio, Texas. Three and a half years later, he is found alive, thousands of miles away, in Spain. Disoriented and quivering with fear, he divulges his shocking story of kidnap and torture. His family is overjoyed to bring him home. But all is not what it seems. Sure, he has the same tattoos, but he looks decidedly different, and he now speaks with a strange accent. Why doesn't the family seem to notice these glaring inconsistencies? It's only when an investigator starts asking questions that this astounding true story takes an even stranger turn.

Directed by Bart Layton - With Frédéric Bourdin

This Is It(2009)

PG
| 1h 51min | Music, Documentary, Drama
3.4/5 (with 166 votes)

A compilation of interviews, rehearsals and backstage footage of Michael Jackson as he prepared for his series of sold-out shows in London.

Directed by Kenny Ortega, Michael Jackson - With Michael Jackson, Orianthi

Sicko(2007)

PG-13
| 2h 3min | Documentary
3.7/5 (with 155 votes)

Sicko is a Michael Moore documentary about the corrupt health care system in The United States who's main goal is to make profit even if it means losing peoples lives. "The more people you deny health insurance the more money we make" is the business model for health care providers in America.

Directed by Michael Moore - With Michael Moore, Tony Benn, Linda Peeno

Jiro Dreams of Sushi(2011)

PG
| 1h 22min | Documentary
4.0/5 (with 152 votes)

JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is the story of 85 year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearances, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious 3 star Michelin review, and sushi lovers from around the globe make repeated pilgrimage, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro’s sushi bar.

Directed by David Gelb - With Jirō Ono

The Cove(2009)

PG-13
| 1h 32min | Documentary
4.0/5 (with 147 votes)

The Cove tells the amazing true story of how an elite team of individuals, films makers and free divers embarked on a covert mission to penetrate the hidden cove in Japan, shining light on a dark and deadly secret. The shocking discoveries were only the tip of the iceberg.

Directed by Louie Psihoyos - With Ric O'Barry, Hayden Panettiere, Isabel Lucas, Mandy-Rae Cruickshank, Paul Watson, Scott Baker, ...

Before the Flood(2016)

NR
| 1h 33min | Documentary, TV Movie
4.0/5 (with 144 votes)

A look at how climate change affects our environment and what society can do prevent the demise of endangered species, ecosystems, and native communities across the planet.

Directed by Fisher Stevens - With Leonardo DiCaprio, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, Richard Carlson, ...

One Direction: This Is Us(2013)

PG
| 1h 32min | Documentary, Music
4.0/5 (with 141 votes)

Go behind the scenes during One Directions sell out "Take Me Home" tour and experience life on the road.

Directed by Morgan Spurlock - With Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Simon Cowell

Grizzly Man(2005)

R
| 1h 43min | Documentary
3.7/5 (with 140 votes)

Werner Herzog's documentary film about the "Grizzly Man" Timothy Treadwell and what the thirteen summers in a National Park in Alaska were like in one man's attempt to protect the grizzly bears. The film is full of unique images and a look into the spirit of a man who sacrificed himself for nature.

Directed by Werner Herzog - With Timothy Treadwell, Werner Herzog

Food, Inc.(2008)

PG
| 1h 34min | Documentary
3.7/5 (with 137 votes)

Documentary filmmaker Robert Kenner examines how mammoth corporations have taken over all aspects of the food chain in the United States, from the farms where our food is grown to the chain restaurants and supermarkets where it's sold. Narrated by author and activist Eric Schlosser, the film features interviews with average Americans about their dietary habits, commentary from food experts like Michael Pollan and unsettling footage shot inside large-scale animal processing plants.

Directed by Robert Kenner - With Eric Schlosser, Michael Pollan

The Act of Killing(2012)

NR
| 1h 55min | Documentary
3.9/5 (with 135 votes)

In a place where killers are celebrated as heroes, these filmmakers challenge unrepentant death-squad leaders to dramatize their role in genocide. The result is a surreal, cinematic journey, not only into the memories and imaginations of mass murderers, but also into a frighteningly banal regime of corruption and impunity.

Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer

Religulous(2008)

R
| 1h 41min | Comedy, Documentary
3.6/5 (with 131 votes)

Commentator-comic Bill Maher plays devil's advocate with religion as he talks to believers about their faith. Traveling around the world, Maher examines the tenets of Christianity, Judaism and Islam and raises questions about homosexuality, proof of Christ's existence, Jewish Sabbath laws, violent Muslim extremists.

Directed by Larry Charles - With Bill Maher, Kirk Cameron, George Coyne, Reginald Foster, George W. Bush, John McCain, ...

Room 237(2012)

NR
| 1h 42min | Documentary
3.1/5 (with 128 votes)

A subjective documentary that explores various theories about hidden meanings in Stanley Kubrick's classic film The Shining. Five very different points of view are illuminated through voice over, film clips, animation and dramatic reenactments.

Directed by Rodney Ascher