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.

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