10 Great 2019 Documentaries To Watch Now (Or Very Soon)

Celebrate Anton Yelchin, salute the dark lord Satan, and take a journey across the world's wildest seas in these critically acclaimed docs.

by | June 14, 2019 | Comments

With the sweaty season in full swing, most of us are gearing up for our summer habits: Curling up with the latest paperback, bingeing that show that everyone has been talking about, or hitting the movie theater for some blockbuster action. But for many, summer also means catching up with or checking in on great documentaries. At home and in theaters, summer always boasts a fresh crop of gripping true-to-life stories to keep us entertained.

To help you narrow down your choices, we’ve put together a list of some our favorite Fresh and Certified Fresh docs that you can stream today or catch in theaters now or very soon. From socially conscious documentaries to harrowing retrospectives on historic events – with dynamic subjects like Aretha Franklin, Anton Yelchin, Beto O’Rourke, and disgraced Silicon Valley CEO Elizabeth Holmes – we have you covered with our list of the some of the buzziest true-life feature films of the year so far, and where to watch them.

Stream it: Apollo 11 (2019) 99%

Unprecedented access to unreleased audio from the Apollo 11 space mission gave director Todd Douglas Miller a whole new avenue to craft a unique story about well-known events. Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, this reconstruction of humanity’s first successful trip to the moon uses archival footage to completely enthrall the audiences. Expect the movie, which is one of the best-reviewed films of the year, to be a big contender in Documentary categories come awards season.

Critics Consensus: Edifying and inspiring in equal measure, Apollo 11 uses artfully repurposed archival footage to send audiences soaring back to a pivotal time in American history.

Where to watch it: Stream it now on, FandangoNowAmazonVuduGoogle.

Stream it: Knock Down the House (2019) 100%

What it is: When documentarian Rachel Lears started filming Knock Down the House, she was solely interested in documenting four progressive Democrats who had challenged incumbents. Each faced tough odds, but no one could predict that one of the film’s subjects, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, would become one of the most talked about politicians in the legislature. The film documents AOC’s road to the ballot box alongside Amy Vilela of Nevada, Cori Bush of Missouri, and Paula Jean Swearengin of West Virginia.

Critics Consensus: A galvanizing glimpse behind the scenes of a pivotal election, Knock Down the House should prove engrossing for viewers of all political persuasions.

Where to watch it: Stream it on Netflix.

Stream it soon: Amazing Grace (2019) 99%

What it is: The late Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, was in a decades-long legal battle with the man behind the concert doc Amazing Grace. Originally intended for release by Warner Bros. in 1972, director Alan Elliott’s film was long delayed as he spent time trying to find lost footage and fend off legal challenges from Franklin. Though never publicly stated, Elliott maintains the soul singer’s suit and objections were just a negotiating tactic. After the singer’s death, her estate reached an agreement with Elliott and Amazing Grace was cleared to premiere in 2018. Shot by late director Sydney Pollack and reassembled by Elliott, the feature lives as the only video documentation of one of the best-selling gospel albums in history and an enduring tribute to the late singer at the height of her power.  

Critics Consensus: Brilliantly capturing a remarkable performer near the peak of her prodigious power, Amazing Grace is a thrilling must-watch documentary for Aretha Franklin fans.

Where to watch it: Currently in limited release. Available for digital download or on Blu-Ray and DVD August 6.

Stream It: Running with Beto (2019) 95%

What it is: Regardless of your political leanings, Running with Beto is a highly entertaining and intimate look at a candidate running against political convention. A Democrat has not won a statewide election in Texas for over 25 years, but with a millennial-friendly social media strategy and old-fashioned grassroots campaigning Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke made a serious run against incumbent Senator Ted Cruz. Running With Beto captures the drama of the campaign.

Critics Consensus: Candid and compelling, Running with Beto is an illuminating exploration of an up-and-coming politician and the changing political landscape around him.

Where to watch it: Watch on HBO or HBONow.

In theaters: Pavarotti (2019) 87%

What it is: In the age  ofInstagram celebs it’s hard to believe that at one time – for several decades in fact – one of the biggest stars in the world was an opera singer. Luciano Pavarotti transcended the opera singer stereotype to become a bona fide A-list celebrity and live a fascinating life. Handled by a rock-and-roll manager, Pavarotti lived the life of a hard-rock frontman and documented much of what happened. Director Ron Howard was given access to the late singer’s home movies and – for the first time – given permission to interview Pavarotti’s wives, children, and closest friends.

Critics Consensus: Pavarotti pays entertaining tribute to a towering cultural figure with a documentary whose evident affection for its subject proves contagious.

Where to watch it: Currently in limited theatrical release.

In theaters: The Biggest Little Farm (2019) 91% 

What it is: When a noise complaint about their dog got them evicted them from their apartments, filmmaker John Chester and his chef wife Molly Chester bet it all on ‘The Farm.’ The revolutionary organic farm they created is actually a return to noncommercial farming techniques, and the trials and tribulations of achieving it are the focus of this documentary, which spans the course of seven years. A perfect watch if you’re looking for inspiration for your own veggie patch.

Critics Consensus: Uplifting, educational, and entertaining, The Biggest Little Farm is an environmental advocacy documentary with a satisfying side dish of hope for the future.

Where to watch it: Currently in limited theatrical release.

Coming soon: Maiden (2019) 98% 

What it is: The tale of Tracy Edwards, a 24-year-old cook turned skipper for the first all-female crew to sail around the world, is one so incredible it sounds like a work of fiction. In truth, tired of being dismissed and passed over because of her gender, Edwards took on the male-dominated sailing competition Whitbread Round the World with her historic team entry. Following the formation of the crew and every battle they fought just to compete, this is one of the most rousing feelgood stories of the summer.

Where to watch it: In limited release June 28.

Stream it: The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (2019) 78% 

What it is: Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced former CEO and founder of blood-testing startup Theranos, is another one of those figures destined to inspire hours of entertainment. She’s the subject of several books, countless articles, and an upcoming feature film with Jennifer Lawrence attached, and The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley is the latest to feature the poster child for everything wrong with the tech industry and icon idolatry. Chronicled by Going Clear documentarian Alex Gibney, Stanford dropout Holmes was obsessed with Apple CEO Steve Jobs and molded herself in his image, crafting a house-of-cards empire built largely on hero worship and aggressive PR without having ever achieved actual success.

Critics Consensus: Alex Gibney’s The Inventor declines to outright condemn the actions by Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, but instead provides a comprehensive overview of the scandal that allows viewers to mull over its implications towards the broader Silicon Valley

Where to watch it: Watch on HBO or HBONow.

Coming Soon: Love, Antosha (2019) 96% 

What it is: Actor Anton Yelchin was an artist that defied categorization. The star of blockbuster films like Star Trek, Terminator: Salvation, and The Smurfs and beloved indies like Green Room, Like Crazy, and Odd Thomas, Yelchin was a cinematic chameleon. The documentary gives us a peek inside the enigmatic actor’s life and his tragic death at the age 27. Editor Turned director Garret Price conducted interviews with Yelchin’s family and friends, including Chris Pine, JJ Abrams, Nicolas Cage, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Simon Pegg.

Where to watch it: In limited theaters August 2.

Coming Soon: Hail Satan? (2019) 96% 

What it is: Satanism takes center stage in the hilarious documentary Hail Satan?. The movie chronicles the satanic temple’s fight in deeply Christian Arkansas and forces audiences to reconsider the sect religion that is so often a punchline. After only 30 minutes of Hail Satan?, you’ll begin to question if the group is in fact comprised of assumed weirdo outcasts or something more like patriots.

Critics Consensus: Hail Satan? challenges preconceived notions of its subject with a smart, witty, and overall entertaining dispatch from the front lines of the fight for social justice.

Where to watch it: Available for digital download or on Blu-Ray and DVD July 23.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Netflix Polls and Games Martial Arts period drama crime drama Toys BBC America Mystery President toy story Anna Paquin batman Columbia Pictures sitcom Star Wars Chernobyl Holiday Sundance TV TCA Winter 2020 jamie lee curtis Countdown Mary poppins Cartoon Network scary movies Rom-Com Freeform directors crime comic aliens AMC GoT Sundance Now Women's History Month television TCA 2017 medical drama TCM Amazon Adult Swim Fantasy Mary Tyler Moore APB Quiz Spring TV screen actors guild Television Academy Discovery Channel See It Skip It Awards Tour adventure Winners Academy Awards Film Nat Geo breaking bad Shudder E3 romance Mary Poppins Returns NBC Lucasfilm Schedule DC Comics OWN Extras Warner Bros. Mindy Kaling cartoon Valentine's Day Lifetime animated Superheroes OneApp CNN Oscars stand-up comedy NYCC Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt blaxploitation documentary CBS All Access transformers blockbuster ABC Family biography TV Land Disney Writers Guild of America canceled TV shows cancelled TV shows zombies WGN 21st Century Fox latino Pirates Marvel BET VH1 007 Heroines Trivia Grammys Comics on TV SundanceTV USA Network Captain marvel Acorn TV American Society of Cinematographers Song of Ice and Fire Emmys Marvel Television psycho Red Carpet Emmy Nominations Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Photos police drama Turner Classic Movies Character Guide TruTV Sneak Peek comics game of thrones Spike cinemax The Purge politics festivals Tomatazos Drama Summer adaptation doctor who Crackle Pixar Lifetime Christmas movies witnail what to watch war ratings movies Amazon Prime dceu comiccon The Walking Dead science fiction slashers Biopics dragons Funimation true crime thriller Masterpiece MTV CBS Reality Trophy Talk IFC Films green book ABC Set visit Comedy Apple TV Plus Calendar SDCC reboot Pride Month The CW video historical drama composers 2018 Logo dramedy Disney streaming service renewed TV shows anime golden globes TBS 45 supernatural Opinion Epix Awards Hulu 2020 Pop TV TCA LGBTQ YouTube Red Disney+ Disney Plus book Box Office BBC canceled hispanic Apple facebook cancelled discovery Creative Arts Emmys boxoffice Crunchyroll Sundance ghosts Nominations streaming Country Arrowverse disaster franchise Stephen King Food Network 2015 cults Baby Yoda independent Netflix Christmas movies Certified Fresh Ellie Kemper Peacock Winter TV Rock Endgame anthology cooking halloween dc Marathons vampires FX Black History Month movie universal monsters Video Games Starz MCU YouTube Premium Mudbound 24 frames Teen sag awards Hallmark Christmas movies spinoff cats Binge Guide social media Western spanish language series Musicals Nickelodeon zero dark thirty Animation free movies robots San Diego Comic-Con PaleyFest tv talk christmas movies space Cosplay Fox News Black Mirror Rocky political drama Infographic quibi Sony Pictures award winner The Witch TLC spider-man DirecTV Spectrum Originals GLAAD Vudu FOX Tubi psychological thriller X-Men Comedy Central mockumentary GIFs Podcast Ghostbusters E! south america mutant crime thriller Lionsgate cancelled TV series Disney Channel Elton John unscripted Showtime Shondaland HBO Max children's TV Rocketman VICE werewolf TIFF FXX Paramount Network Fall TV Musical WarnerMedia versus kids YA Marvel Studios The Arrangement Classic Film richard e. Grant Action sports cars finale Turner HBO Bravo technology elevated horror Reality Competition 71st Emmy Awards TV Christmas USA CMT TV renewals Hallmark crossover casting Dark Horse Comics RT History Tumblr joker cancelled television game show ESPN First Reviews TNT cops Best and Worst travel MSNBC IFC A24 Britbox Syfy Cannes Holidays Paramount sequel SXSW First Look Year in Review New York Comic Con Apple TV+ justice league Family docudrama 2017 screenings zombie diversity Travel Channel 2019 El Rey spain Horror spy thriller National Geographic Trailer LGBT ITV hist DC Universe History Thanksgiving foreign Ovation Film Festival revenge teaser dogs YouTube binge Sci-Fi Interview Election serial killer natural history Premiere Dates 20th Century Fox based on movie DC streaming service Universal Tarantino Avengers Kids & Family Amazon Studios talk show indie Pop CW Seed reviews A&E romantic comedy Superheroe Amazon Prime Video name the review Comic Book Watching Series RT21 Brie Larson Walt Disney Pictures 2016 Super Bowl singing competition Music harry potter PBS miniseries Esquire Disney Plus FX on Hulu rotten movies we love DGA Pet Sematary Star Trek strong female leads theme song nature