Great Documentaries

by Big_Swifty | created - 9 months ago | updated - 8 months ago | Public

My favorite documentary films.

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1. Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski (2018)

TV-MA | 115 min | Documentary

This documentary chronicles the life of Polish-American artist Stanislav Szukalski (1893-1987) from his early years in Chicago, to his time in Poland and Los Angeles, and his artistic and political contributions to the world.

Director: Irek Dobrowolski | Stars: Stanislav Szukalski, Glenn Bray, Robert Williams, Suzanne Williams

Votes: 2,239

2. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

R | 87 min | Documentary, Comedy, Crime

85 Metascore

The story of how an eccentric French shop-keeper and amateur film-maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner. The film contains... See full summary »

Director: Banksy | Stars: Banksy, Mr. Brainwash, Space Invader, Debora Guetta

Votes: 59,319 | Gross: $3.29M

3. When We Were Kings (1996)

PG | 88 min | Documentary, Sport

83 Metascore

A documentary of the 1974 heavyweight championship bout in Zaire, "The Rumble in the Jungle," between champion George Foreman and underdog challenger Muhammad Ali.

Director: Leon Gast | Stars: Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Don King, James Brown

Votes: 13,998 | Gross: $2.67M

4. The Aristocrats (2005)

Not Rated | 89 min | Documentary, Comedy

72 Metascore

One hundred superstar comedians tell the same very, VERY dirty, filthy joke--one shared privately by comics since Vaudeville.

Directors: Penn Jillette, Paul Provenza | Stars: George Carlin, Don Rickles, Chris Rock, Chris Albrecht

Votes: 15,700 | Gross: $6.38M

5. The Exodus Decoded (2006 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 93 min | Documentary

Using 'investigative archaeology' Simcha Jacobovici and his team release never before seen evidence that support the Biblical tale.

Director: Simcha Jacobovici | Stars: Uzi Avner, Manfred Bietak, John Bimson, James Cameron

Votes: 411

6. The Naked Archaeologist (2005–2008)

Documentary, History

Simcha Jocobovici hosts this 26-part series, stripping biblical archaeology naked and treating the Bible stories with his own brand of investigative journalism.

Stars: Simcha Jacobovici, Gabriel Barkay, Yair Zakovitch, James Charlesworth

Votes: 232

7. Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project (2007)

Not Rated | 89 min | Documentary, Comedy

This terrific feature film comedy reveals the background of one of the legends of comedy, Don Rickles. Hailed by some of today's biggest comedians as one of the classics, who they aspire to... See full summary »

Director: John Landis | Stars: Harry Dean Stanton, John Landis, Don Rickles, Clint Eastwood

Votes: 954

8. Burden of Dreams (1982)

Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary

A documentary on the chaotic production of Werner Herzog's epic Fitzcarraldo (1982), showing how the film managed to get made despite problems that would have floored a less obsessively ... See full summary »

Director: Les Blank | Stars: Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards

Votes: 5,749

9. Baadasssss Cinema (2002 TV Movie)

58 min | Documentary

Filmmaker Isaac Julien uses film clips and interviews to illustrate the history of the so-called "blaxploitation" genre.

Director: Isaac Julien | Stars: Pam Grier, Fred Williamson, Melvin Van Peebles, Elvis Mitchell

Votes: 628

10. What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? (2004)

Not Rated | 109 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama

38 Metascore

A fictional photographer's quest to spiritually rediscover herself is interspersed with documentary footage of scientists and theologians discussing the philosophical aspects of quantum physics.

Directors: William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, Mark Vicente | Stars: Marlee Matlin, Elaine Hendrix, John Ross Bowie, Robert Bailey Jr.

Votes: 12,891 | Gross: $10.94M

11. Man on Wire (2008)

PG-13 | 94 min | Documentary, Biography, History

89 Metascore

A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century".

Director: James Marsh | Stars: Philippe Petit, Jean François Heckel, Jean-Louis Blondeau, Annie Allix

Votes: 49,948 | Gross: $2.96M

12. Good Hair (2009)

PG-13 | 96 min | Documentary, Comedy

72 Metascore

Chris Rock explores the wonders of African-American hairstyles.

Director: Jeff Stilson | Stars: Chris Rock, Maya Angelou, Al Sharpton, Tanya Crumel

Votes: 5,276 | Gross: $4.16M

13. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991)

R | 96 min | Documentary

Documentary that chronicles how Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979) was plagued by extraordinary script, shooting, budget, and casting problems--nearly destroying the life and career of the celebrated director.

Directors: Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper, Eleanor Coppola | Stars: Dennis Hopper, Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, George Lucas

Votes: 17,204 | Gross: $1.32M

14. Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)

TV-MA | 94 min | Documentary

77 Metascore

A behind-the-scenes look at how Jim Carrey adopted the persona of idiosyncratic comedian Andy Kaufman on the set of Man on the Moon (1999).

Director: Chris Smith | Stars: Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Milos Forman, Peter Bonerz

Votes: 19,914

15. The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)

R | 93 min | Documentary, Biography

75 Metascore

Documentary about legendary Paramount producer Robert Evans (the film shares the same name as Evans's famous 1994 autobiography).

Directors: Nanette Burstein, Brett Morgen | Stars: Robert Evans, Eddie Albert, Peter Bart, Charlie Bluhdorn

Votes: 6,629 | Gross: $1.43M

16. Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (2013)

R | 85 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

64 Metascore

The life and career of the legendary Hollywood insider, Shep Gordon.

Directors: Beth Aala, Mike Myers | Stars: Shep Gordon, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Douglas, Alice Cooper

Votes: 3,048 | Gross: $0.21M

17. Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004 TV Movie)

R | 120 min | Documentary, Biography, History

85 Metascore

A documentary on the Z Channel, one of the first pay cable stations in the US, and its programming chief, Jerry Harvey. Debuting in 1974, the LA-based channel's eclectic slate of movies ... See full summary »

Director: Xan Cassavetes | Stars: Robert Altman, Vera Carlisle Anderson, C.L. Batten, Jacqueline Bisset

Votes: 1,240

18. Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights - Hollywood to the Heartland (2006)

R | 100 min | Documentary, Comedy

51 Metascore

In this documentary, the show's emcee, Vince Vaughn, and four stand-up comedians hand-picked by Vaughn, travel the country and perform in 30 cities. This film documents the interactions on and off stage along the way.

Director: Ari Sandel | Stars: Ahmed Ahmed, John Caparulo, Bret Ernst, Vince Vaughn

Votes: 1,505 | Gross: $0.60M

19. Visions of Light (1992)

92 min | Documentary, History

Cameramen and women discuss the craft and art of cinematography and of the "DP" (the director of photography), illustrating their points with clips from 100 films, from Birth of a Nation to... See full summary »

Directors: Arnold Glassman, Todd McCarthy, Stuart Samuels | Stars: Conrad L. Hall, John Bailey, Vilmos Zsigmond, Charles Lang

Votes: 2,904 | Gross: $0.80M

20. A Decade Under the Influence (2003)

R | 138 min | Documentary

67 Metascore

A documentary examining the decade of the 1970s as a turning point in American cinema. Some of today's best filmmakers interview the influential directors of that time.

Directors: Ted Demme, Richard LaGravenese | Stars: Francis Ford Coppola, William Friedkin, Robert Altman, John G. Avildsen

Votes: 2,424 | Gross: $0.03M

21. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (2003)

TV-14 | 119 min | Documentary

A look at 1970s Hollywood when it was known as New Hollywood, and the director was the star of the movie.

Director: Kenneth Bowser | Stars: Martin Scorsese, Dennis Hopper, Peter Bogdanovich, Sam Peckinpah

Votes: 2,518

22. Century of Cinema (1995–1998)
Episode: A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995)

225 min | Documentary

Martin Scorsese describes his initial and growing obsession with films from the 1940s and 50s as the art form developed and grew with clips from classics and cult classics.

Directors: Martin Scorsese, Michael Henry Wilson | Stars: Martin Scorsese, Allison Anders, Kathryn Bigelow, Francis Ford Coppola

Votes: 4,453

23. The Thin Blue Line (1988)

Not Rated | 101 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama

79 Metascore

A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas.

Director: Errol Morris | Stars: Randall Adams, David Ray Harris, Gus Rose, Jackie Johnson

Votes: 20,156 | Gross: $1.21M

24. American Movie (1999)

R | 107 min | Documentary, Comedy

84 Metascore

Documentary about an aspiring filmmaker's attempts to finance his dream project by finally completing the low-budget horror film he abandoned years before.

Director: Chris Smith | Stars: Mark Borchardt, Mike Schank, Tom Schimmels, Monica Borchardt

Votes: 15,947 | Gross: $1.16M

25. Lost in La Mancha (2002)

R | 89 min | Documentary

74 Metascore

Terry Gilliam's doomed attempt to get his film, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018), off the ground.

Directors: Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe | Stars: Terry Gilliam, Johnny Depp, Jeff Bridges, Tony Grisoni

Votes: 10,761 | Gross: $0.73M

26. Land Grab (2016)

76 min | Documentary

LAND GRAB is the story of an eccentric finance mogul's dream to create the world's largest urban farm in his hometown of Detroit, and the political firestorm he unintentionally ignited by ... See full summary »

Director: Sean King O'Grady

Votes: 20

27. The Gospel According to André (2017)

PG-13 | 93 min | Documentary

67 Metascore

From the segregated American South to the fashion capitals of the world, operatic fashion editor André Leon Talley's life and career are on full display, in a poignant portrait that ... See full summary »

Director: Kate Novack | Stars: André Leon Talley, Bethann Hardison, Marc Jacobs, Anna Wintour

Votes: 321 | Gross: $0.40M



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