Best Documentaries You Need To Watch
Documentaries offer us a glimpse into real life, unlike the movies, which take us into a different world. Though both the mediums are equally important for teaching values and societal issues, the authentic reality offered by documentaries is unmatched.
If you are a fan of the gripping and highly praised documentaries, here we have rounded up a list of best and must-watch documentaries for you to watch next.
We are all connected by documentaries. The most enticing aspect of documentaries for viewers is the sense of real-life portrayed through historical footage, photographs, interviews, pre-recorded audio, and scenes of an actual physical excursion or simple quotidian tasks.
No matter how biased something maybe, you still feel an unmistakable sense of authenticity. Although a film’s overall focus may be narrowed to fit a preconceived story, there is an unmistakable sense of intimacy, of being allowed a glimpse into a filmmaker’s mind.
Recent years have seen a boom in documentary filmmaking – the kind we saw with Tiger King and The Last Dance.
This Oscar-nominated documentary film gives a clear-eyed version of the criminal justice system of the United States of America. It also presents the cynical incarceration of the blacks used for propping up the capitalist system. It provokes a strong reaction in its viewers with its complex arguments and fast-paced momentum.
Considered to be one of the greatest movies of its genre, it presents a portrait of the reclusive socialites Edith Beale and her daughter living in the collapsing glamour of their home. Their day-to-day routine life is juxtaposed with their monied pasts to show a beautiful movie where the subjects always perform with an appealing lack of self-consciousness.
Life On Earth
This 1979 landmark documentary series was a pioneer of the new era of wildlife documentary with a different insight and blending cinematography. It charts the evolution of life on Earth from the first fossils to playful gorillas and coral reefs.
Watch it now on BBC iPlayer.
Check Out: Netflix Bets Big On Anime Yasuke.
Paris is Burning
This legendary film takes you back to the ball culture of New York in the 1980s while exploring the sexuality, gender, and race issues of the time. It acts as an important document of the long-gone era full of some of the most heartfelt memories and memorable rituals. It is a must-view for every documentary lover.
This documentary presented a British class system study that spanned a time of more than half a century. The series began in 1964 with 14 chosen children who represented the broad spectrum of the British class system. Revisited every seven years, Their lives, careers, relationships, and situations were followed by several cameras to record the changes and evolution. It was the way they told the story that made this a compelling social history movie.
Watch it on Britbox.
Man on Wire
This 2008 documentary is about the incredible planning and precision and the execution of the ultimate balancing act by Phillipe Petit. It was filmed as he made a spine-tingling walk on a high wire in New York between the famous twin towers of World Trade Centers.
Available to rent on Amazon Prime.
I Am Not Your Negro
This is a serious and uncompromising documentary based on the works and words of James Baldwin exposing the truth about racism in the USA. Watch how it jumps off from the deaths of Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King Jr into the pop culture clips to show how important Baldwin’s words still are.
Watch it on BFI Player.
In Bed With Chris Needham
Many to be one of the best music documentaries, it was an overnight sensation when it was aired in 1992. It delivers teenage angst with wisdom and a certain lack of self-consciousness or irony that may have never survived in today’s day and age.
Watch this majestic documentary on Youtube.
My Octopus Teacher
The Oscar-winning film ‘My Octopus Teacher’ is the antidote for our pandemic year.
This documentary follows the encounters made by the South African filmmaker Craig Foster with an Octopus near his home. It documents the tragedies and triumphs of this cephalopod as the footage is gathered every day from the same spot for over one year.
In nearly a year of following her around, Foster develops a close relationship with the octopus.
Defending herself against pyjama sharks is the next challenge. One attack leads to the octopus losing an arm, which she recovers by retreating to her den, gradually regenerating the arm over three months.
Her creativity to survive a shark attack is astounding, as she sticks on the shark’s back.
The jaw-dropping visuals present one of the most heartwarming and heartbreaking love stories ever caught on film.
Voiced by filmmaker Craig Foster intones: “A lot of people say that an octopus is like an alien. But the strange thing is, as you get closer to them, you realize you’re very similar in a lot of ways. You’re stepping into this completely different world, such an incredible feeling, and you feel as though you’re on the brink of something extraordinary.”
Watch it on Netflix to understand the emotion.
March of the Penguins
This Oscar Award winner documentary tracks the journey of prospective penguins through the breeding lands and the oceans. Considered to be the true embodiment of parenthood, the movie shows their unique ability to fight tough terrains and conditions for protecting their precious egg from the harsh elements.
This is a gorgeous, inspiring documentary for families with kids old enough to handle the peril.
On 26 January 2005, Buena Vista International released March of the Penguins in France; on 24 June 2005, Warner Independent Pictures released the movie in the United States. The documentary won the 2006 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.
Fire In Babylon
This sports documentary follows the journey of the triumphant West Indies Cricket team in the post-colonial political scenario. It shows the black pride as well the racism faced by their children at home.
In “Fire in Babylon”, the leading team of the 1970s and 1980s is portrayed as a historical study of the West Indies’ role as the dominant force in international cricket in the post-colonial era.
Feature documentary about the great West Indies cricket team of the 1970’s/80’s.
Rent or buy it from Amazon.
Making a Murderer
It is a true-crime story about the judiciary system and raised some of the most compelling and immersive questions of the time.
Considered to be a gamechanger in terms of the long-form documentary. The film makes the viewer aware of a rising injustice on watching the visuals.
Available for watching on Netflix.
Netflix’s six-part docuseries High Score is one of the best documentaries it has ever produced. It tells how video games evolved into what we know and love today, as told by the creators.
The Last Dance
The 10-episode documentary series The Last Dance will captivate and astonish even those not into basketball.
It follows Michael Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls, juxtaposed with memories of his early career and the careers of his fellow Bulls teammates Bob Cousy, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and others.
The way the narrative flips back and forth always creates an interesting narrative, contextualizing the 1997-98 Bulls season within the past. There are some eye-opening and surprisingly candid moments within this docuseries about one of the greatest athletes in history.
Whether you are a die-hard fan of basketball or not, you’ll find much to enjoy in this entertaining account of a man who sought greatness at all costs.
Murder, Mayhem and Madness -Tiger King
Tiger King, the seven-part docuseries, is unpredictable to the point where you may find yourself saying, “Surely things can’t get odder than this.” You would be 100% wrong.
The Tiger King documentary tells the story of Joe Exotic. A zoo owner in Oklahoma owned by a flamboyant, extremely confident man.
A plot of murder-for-hire involves Joe Exotic and involves lies, guns, and a presidential run. To believe this, you must see it for yourself.
Miss Americana, Taylor Swift’s Netflix documentary, isn’t your typical music documentary. Throughout the documentary, Swift’s music isn’t the main focus so much as Swift herself.
Swift’s film is about understanding her own feelings and how those feelings manifest into her feminist awakening and decision to express herself publicly.
Swift’s self-image plays an important role in the documentary. It’s impossible to tell just how heavily Swift influenced its development. Swift’s true insights are hard to miss in this film, as she struggles to balance her life and be one of the world’s most famous people.
Award-winning film American Factory shows how an out-of-business General Motors plant. A Chinese billionaire buys it to build a glass manufacturing facility for his company in Dayton, Ohio.
It’s a familiar story for anyone who’s been on a factory floor or been a picket line member.
Netflix distributes the documentary under the Higher Ground banner. A production company founded by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
It would be best if you also were careful to check your bias at the door; Whether American or Chinese, the skilled labour force is easy prey for the rich and powerful.
Additionally, this is the story of whether the American Dream is a reality or a myth.