Top 10 Great Documentaries

Check the list for some great docs you should check out!

 10. Darkon

If you have not heard of live-action role playing (or LARP) this is the best crash course into this weird world. Watching grown men and women battle each other with foam swords is really hilarious, but this movie also makes you  care about something that may seem silly or stupid. The best thing about this movie (other than the unintentional comedy) is that the ‘battle’ scenes are shot with such cinematic quality, the juxtaposition between a raging battle and again foam swords and homemade costumes is worth the price of admission alone.


 9. Crumb

A fascinating look into the world of R. Crumb, comic artist and all around creeper. Crumb has an amazing style to his drawings which is at once instantly recognizable and unique. What is more interesting is how strange the life of this man is. His obsessions and fetishes definitely provide a certain ‘ew’ factor to this movie, but it is an intimate portrait of someone outside the world of normal.


 8. Lake of Fire

Tony Kaye (director of American History X) brings an intense vision to the world of Abortion. Shot in stark black and white, the ideals of this film are nothing but grey as is the topic. A very hard watch but also much needed for anyone with an opinion of the film. It contains very graphic material but if you can handle it, it is the perfect statement about the issue of abortion.

To read my full review click HERE


7. Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost is the place where the West Memphis 3 were brought into the spotlight for the first time. If you don’t know the case you can read up on it here: A movie that proved that film can go a long way to help push social issues into the limelight and in this case helped an innocent man escape death row.

 6. Capturing the Friedmans

A story that started out documenting a children’s performer in New York which spiraled into a long held family secret that shook a community and a family. This is an extremely candid view into a family during what is an insane and harrowing time. This movie is fascinating and unexpected.

 5. Hoop Dreams

A true underdog story is captured within this film. Filled with hope, rejection, sadness, elation, and more makes this one of the most inspiration documentaries ever made. The title may put some off, but this movie will definitely break your expectations.

 4. Baraka

Baraka is the documentary version of ‘The Tree of Life’. The camera is constantly moving following sites and people from around the world. Glimpses into religious ceremony of cultures across the globe. It is a chance to view things that you may have never seen before and without words has the ability to move you and pull you in. This movie is a natural high and I only wish I could see this on IMAX.

 3. American Movie

Mark Borchardt is a struggling filmmaker. A man who is in the wrong place, has little to no money, a man who seems to have no luck in any department of his life, but has the drive and determination to do anything he can to pursue his dream. Chronicaling his attempts to finance his full length feature ‘Northwestern’ the movie watches as he finishes his short film ‘Coven’ in order to bring more money in. Nothing goes right on this shoot and there are so many times you, in Mark’s shoes, would just give up. At times hilarious, and soul-crushingly depressing, this movie is a must see for anyone who wants to make a movie. A must see for anyone who loves uncomfortable humor.

 2. Grizzly Man

Werner Herzog is one of my favorite filmmakers. I don’t love everything he does, but he has such an eye for topics that usually aren’t seen and brings so much into a movie that is haunting and his thoughts and narrative bring an almost ethereal quality to these movies. Grizzly Man is the story of Timothy Treadwell, a possibly delusional mentally unstable man who devoted many years to living alone amongst grizzly bears in Alaska. Most of the footage was filmed by Treadwell and is tragic and almost prophetic knowing the outcome. The film never sides with Treadwell or those who thought he was crazy. There are question posed by Herzog and he gives some of his opinion but it’s smart to not give an easy answer as to what this man did or didn’t do with his life.  Also- the music in this movie is incredible and fits the ancient landscapes that surround it on film.

 1. Dear Zachary

A film that caught me totally by surprise and absolutely wrecked me the first time I saw it. This movie does exactly what documentary is supposed to do. It makes you care about a person or an issue that you previously didn’t care or know about. There are moments in this movie that will shock even some of the most jaded. It’s best to go into this film with a blank slate.

To read my full review click HERE


18 thoughts on “Top 10 Great Documentaries

  1. I’ve seen all these except Baraka, but I’ve seen those Nioskopiism whatever they are called films, the first two anyways. I didn’t really care for Crumb that much, I did however enjoy American Splendor which is sort of a semi doc in it’s way.

    Also I’m in the minority with Hoop Dreams, it’s nice and all just nothing about it speaks to me. I think his other movie Stevie is a lot better, mainly for his own personal involvement in it. Maybe it’s cause Hoop Dreams has been copied to much it’s hard to see it’s originality after the years, just like The Thin Blue Line which makes up 99% of the style of all true crime shows these days.

    If you did like Hoop Dreams you should check out Stevie. I’ve got his newest one The Interrupters to watch, it was on PBS like a week ago.

    • I remember you mentioning Stevie before. I’m going to have to rent that soon. Documentary is a really hard thing because there are so many, and a lot of them are really not worth the time. Have you ever watched any of the Ken Burn’s docs? They are definitely worth it. His National Parks one is good, so is the one on Jazz, and Baseball. They are all good but I’d suggest starting at those if you haven’t seen them before.

      the way you feel about Hoop Dreams is the way I feel about Man on Wire. I thought it was good, had some cool parts, and was neat seeing the clips from it, but I think it was way overrated.

      • Yeah I didn’t care for Man On A Wire either, would’ve made a fine 20 minute thing.

        I need to watch a Ken Burns doc series one of these days.

      • Koutch, I think you would really dig them. I’d say go with National Parks first. It’s informative, beautiful, inspiring, and sad at times. A great preview of the Burn’s style

  2. Though I wonder how ugly Baraka and the Blahblahpoitism films look now compared to Planet Earth and Life?

    • Koutch- I love Planet Earth, a beautiful series. However Baraka is quite different as it’s more a focus on the human/spiritual connection to the earth. I liked it a lot better than Koyannisquatsi.

  3. Heheheh also I found out a couple years ago I have some family members that have played a couple times with the Darkon crowd.

    • That’s hilarious. One of my friend’s relatives does it. I would love to just sit and watch. Apparently their is a thriller called The Wild Hunt that takes the LARP thing but adds actual tension to it. I haven’t seen it but I think it’s on Netflix instant

  4. Typically, I haven’t seen any of these – except for ‘Dear Zachary’ which was very good, doesn’t surprise me you’ve got it at No.1.

    You reviewed that over at Moonwolves didn’t you?

  5. Haven’t seen Dear Zachary or Darkon but based on your other excellent choices (I would rank all 8 of those amoung my favourites). I will definitely add the aforementioned titles to the queue. Besides horror films, documentaries are what I watch most believe or not.

    • Goregirl, i’m pretty much the same way. Love horror, but docs are always a good choice. If you have netflix I’m pretty sure Dear Zachary is on there to watch instant. It’s a hell of a movie

  6. What Xi said. Darkon makes me lose hope for the human race and just pray that they can’t breed.

    Touching the Void is the obvious one you’ve missed here. But that’s probably because it’s totally overexposed.

    • Touching the Void is really great too and I thought of including it in this, but I’m thinking of making this a series to spotlight some great docs so it will definitely show up on another list.
      I could understand kids doing LARP but these people are definitely well into their 30’s

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