Movies: Best Documentaries Movies

A documentary film or documentary is a non-fictional motion picture intended to "document reality, primarily for instruction, education or maintaining a historical record". Bill Nichols has characterized the documentary in terms of "a filmmaking practice, a cinematic tradition, and mode of audience reception [that remains] a practice without clear boundaries". Early documentary films, originally called "actuality films", briefly lasted for one minute or less. Over time, documentaries have evolved to become longer in length and to include more categories. Some examples are educational, observational and docufiction. Documentaries are very informative, and are often used within schools as a resource to teach various principles. Documentary filmmakers have a responsibility to be truthful to their vision of the world without intentionally misrepresenting a topic. Social media platforms (such as YouTube) have provided an avenue for the growth of the documentary-film genre. These platforms have increased the distribution area and ease-of-accessibility. ()

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Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts(2022)

1h 42min | Documentary
3.6/5 (with 1,449 votes)

An enchanting making-of story told through all-new in-depth interviews and cast conversations, inviting fans on a magical first-person journey through one of the most beloved film franchises of all time.

Super Size Me(2004)

| 1h 40min | Documentary
3.4/5 (with 727 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

Jackass: The Movie(2002)

| 1h 27min | Comedy, Documentary
3.2/5 (with 725 votes)

Johnny Knoxville and his band of maniacs perform a variety of stunts and gross-out gags on the big screen for the first time. 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.

The Social Dilemma(2020)

1h 34min | Documentary, Drama
3.8/5 (with 675 votes)

This documentary-drama hybrid explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations.

Directed by Jeff Orlowski - With Tristan Harris, Aza Raskin, Justin Rosenstein, Shoshana Zuboff, Jaron Lanier, Skyler Gisondo, ...

Bowling for Columbine(2002)

| 2h | Documentary, Drama
3.8/5 (with 669 votes)

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 the US, through our past, hoping to discover why our pursuit of happiness is so riddled with violence.

Fahrenheit 9/11(2004)

2h 3min | Documentary
3.5/5 (with 619 votes)

Michael Moore's view on how the Bush administration allegedly used the tragic events on 9/11 to push forward its agenda for unjust wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Directed by Michael Moore - With Michael Moore, George W. Bush, Al Gore, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, ...

Jackass 3D(2010)

| 1h 34min | Comedy, Documentary, Action
3.3/5 (with 599 votes)

Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Wee Man and the rest of their fearless and foolhardy friends take part in another round of outrageous pranks and stunts. In addition to standing in the path of a charging bull, launching themselves into the air and crashing through various objects, the guys perform in segments such as "Sweatsuit Cocktail," "Beehive Tetherball" and "Lamborghini Tooth Pull.".


| 1h 54min | Documentary
3.9/5 (with 565 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.

Free Solo(2018)

| 1h 40min | Documentary, Adventure
4.0/5 (with 557 votes)

Follow Alex Honnold as he attempts to become the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite's 3,000 foot high El Capitan wall. With no ropes or safety gear, this would arguably be the greatest feat in rock climbing history.


| 2h 8min | Documentary, Music
3.8/5 (with 546 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, ...

Jackass Number Two(2006)

| 1h 35min | Action, Comedy, Documentary
3.3/5 (with 526 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.

Money Heist: The Phenomenon(2020)

57min | Documentary
3.7/5 (with 511 votes)

A documentary on why 'Money Heist' sparked a wave of enthusiasm around the world for a lovable group of thieves and their professor.

Directed by Luis Alfaro, Pablo Lejarreta
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Friends: The Reunion(2021)

1h 44min | Documentary
4.0/5 (with 502 votes)

The cast of Friends reunites for a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of the hit series, an unforgettable evening filled with iconic memories, uncontrollable laughter, happy tears, and special guests.

One Direction: This Is Us(2013)

| 1h 32min | Documentary, Music
4.2/5 (with 496 votes)

"One Direction: This Is Us" is a captivating and intimate all-access look at life on the road for the global music phenomenon. Weaved with stunning live concert footage, this inspiring feature film tells the remarkable story of Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry and Louis' meteoric rise to fame, from their humble hometown beginnings and competing on the X-Factor, to conquering the world and performing at London’s famed O2 Arena. Hear it from the boys themselves and see through their own eyes what it's really like to be One Direction.

March of the Penguins(2005)

3.5/5 (with 495 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. This amazing, true-life tale is 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


| 1h 23min | Documentary
3.9/5 (with 493 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, Jeffrey Ventre, ...

Obi-Wan Kenobi: A Jedi's Return(2022)

59min | Documentary
3.4/5 (with 453 votes)

A new documentary that showcases the making of the epic limited series. Features never-before-seen, behind-the-scenes footage, interviews and visits to the creature shop and props department.

American Animals(2018)

| 1h 57min | Drama, Crime, Documentary
3.4/5 (with 440 votes)

Lexington, Kentucky, 2004. Four young men attempt to execute one of the most audacious art heists in the history of the United States.


| 1h 46min | Documentary
4.1/5 (with 423 votes)

The remarkable story of Brazilian racing driver Ayrton Senna, charting his physical and spiritual achievements 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.

Waltz with Bashir(2008)

3.9/5 (with 416 votes)

An Israeli film director interviews fellow veterans of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon to reconstruct his own memories of his term of service in that conflict.

Directed by Ari Folman


1h 38min | Documentary
3.5/5 (with 411 votes)

He promised supermodels and yachts, but delivered tents and cheese sandwiches. How one man engineered a music festival disaster.

Directed by Chris Smith

The Tinder Swindler(2022)

1h 54min | Documentary, Crime
3.5/5 (with 408 votes)

Posing as a wealthy, jet-setting diamond mogul, an Israeli conman wooed women online then conned them out of millions of dollars. Now some victims plan for payback.

Directed by Felicity Morris

Inside Job(2010)

| 1h 49min | Documentary
3.9/5 (with 403 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

This Is It(2009)

| 1h 51min | Music, Documentary
3.6/5 (with 398 votes)

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

Return to Jurassic Park(2011)

3.3/5 (with 397 votes)

A multi-part documentary about the making of the Jurassic Park trilogy. Each part walks through the making of part of one of the films, including the hurricane during the shooting of the first film, and how advances in CGI for Jurassic Park helped change the world of special effects forever. All interviews for these retrospective documentaries come with comments from Spielberg, Johnston, Neill, Dern, Goldblum, the effects crews, the child actors, and Peter Stormare. This documentary is broken into five parts: Dawn of a New Era (25 min) Making Prehistory (20 min), the Next Step in Evolution (15 min), and the Third Adventure (25 min), Finding the Lost World (28 min), and Something Survived (16 min).

Searching for Sugar Man(2012)

| 1h 25min | Music, Documentary
3.9/5 (with 395 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.

Exit Through the Gift Shop(2010)

| 1h 27min | Documentary
3.8/5 (with 379 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)

| 1h 34min | Documentary
3.7/5 (with 378 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

An Inconvenient Truth(2006)

| 1h 40min | Documentary
3.5/5 (with 377 votes)

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

Directed by Davis Guggenheim

My Octopus Teacher(2020)

1h 24min | Documentary
4.0/5 (with 369 votes)

After years of swimming every day in the freezing ocean at the tip of Africa, Craig Foster meets an unlikely teacher: a young octopus who displays remarkable curiosity. Visiting her den and tracking her movements for months on end he eventually wins the animal’s trust and they develop a never-before-seen bond between human and wild animal.

Directed by Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed
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