(Photo by Producers Distribution Agency/Courtesy Everett Collection)

100 Best Documentaries Ranked by Tomatometer

Capturing truth, life, and reality — one movie at a time. The best documentaries allow us to see the world with a fresh set of eyes, from social experiments (Super Size Me) to quirky competitions (The King of Kong) to political exposés (Citizenfour) to the ultimate cat video (Kedi). Now, we take the top movies of the form (each is Certified Fresh from at least 100 critics reviews) for our countdown list of the 100 best-reviewed documentaries ranked by Tomatometer.

#100

Why We Fight (2005)
78%

#100
Adjusted Score: 82413%
Critics Consensus: A provocative and timely film that explores the military/industrial complex and the motivating forces that lead us to war.
Synopsis: Since World War II, the United States has been almost constantly involved in combat, active participants in a string of... [More]
Directed By: Eugene Jarecki

#99
Adjusted Score: 81819%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: By looking into the lives and daily tasks of three writers at the the New York Times, this documentary explores... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Rossi

#98
#98
Adjusted Score: 83224%
Critics Consensus: An affectionate tribute to rock's most distinctive instrument, It Might Get Loud is insightful and musically satisfying.
Synopsis: Rock icons -- Jimmy Page, the Edge and Jack White -- from three different generations come together to discuss the... [More]
Directed By: Davis Guggenheim

#97
#97
Adjusted Score: 83007%
Critics Consensus: The underwater footage is both beautiful and awe-inspiring.
Synopsis: Veteran filmmaker James Cameron delves into the inspiration for his film "Titanic" by traveling to the mammoth cruise liner's final... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron

#96
Adjusted Score: 81875%
Critics Consensus: Well researched and finely crafted, Standard Operating Procedure is another gem from master documentarian Errol Morris.
Synopsis: Investigating the infamous Abu Ghraib scandal, Errol Morris interviews American guards and Iraqi prisoners who were at the military jail... [More]
Directed By: Errol Morris

#95

The Aristocrats (2005)
79%

#95
Adjusted Score: 84691%
Critics Consensus: Can a joke stand up to repeated tellings? Hilarious and revealing of the way comedy works, The Aristocrats demonstrates that it's possible.
Synopsis: This documentary about the world's funniest dirty joke features over 100 stand-up and performing comedians discussing and telling the joke.... [More]
Directed By: Paul Provenza

#94

Catfish (2010)
80%

#94
Adjusted Score: 84524%
Critics Consensus: Catfish may tread the line between real-life drama and crass exploitation a little too unsteadily for some viewers' tastes, but its timely premise and tightly wound mystery make for a gripping documentary.
Synopsis: When Nev Shulman, a New York photographer, receives a Facebook request from a child named Abby, he cannot guess the... [More]

#93
#93
Adjusted Score: 90280%
Critics Consensus: Where to Invade Next finds documentarian Michael Moore approaching progressive politics with renewed -- albeit unabashedly one-sided -- vigor.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Michael Moore visits various countries to examine how Europeans view work, education, health care, sex, equality, and other issues.... [More]
Directed By: Michael Moore

#92
#92
Adjusted Score: 88039%
Critics Consensus: Viewers hoping to see Donald Rumsfeld admit making mistakes in public office (or hoping Errol Morris will force him to give straight answers) may find The Unknown Known frustrating -- but no less fascinating.
Synopsis: Donald Rumsfeld discusses his political career, from his days as a congressman to planning the invasion of Iraq.... [More]
Directed By: Errol Morris

#91
#91
Adjusted Score: 85441%
Critics Consensus: A documentary on the film that brought smut mainstream, Inside Deep Throat is gaining praise as an entertaining look at a pop culture milestone. However, some critics say the film could have gone a little deeper into the people involved.
Synopsis: Dennis Hopper narrates this documentary that investigates the infamous pornographic film "Deep Throat." Featuring interviews with the cast and filmmakers,... [More]

#90
Adjusted Score: 90453%
Critics Consensus: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power makes a plea for environmental responsibility that adds a persuasive -- albeit arguably less impactful -- coda to its acclaimed predecessor.
Synopsis: Former Vice President Al Gore continues his tireless fight, traveling around the world to train an army of activists and... [More]
Directed By: Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk

#89
#89
Adjusted Score: 86830%
Critics Consensus: This doc about the making of Vogue's biggest issue and its frosty editor-in-chief is fascinating eye candy and light-on-its-feet fun.
Synopsis: Each August, fashion mavens look forward to getting their hands on a copy of Vogue magazine's autumn issue. Filmmaker R.J.... [More]
Directed By: R.J. Cutler

#88
#88
Adjusted Score: 85724%
Critics Consensus: Smartly constructed and scathingly sharp, The Armstrong Lie presents an effective indictment of its unscrupulous subject -- as well as the sports culture that spawned him.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Alex Gibney chronicles Lance Armstrong's attempt to return to cycling, his admission of doping and subsequent fall from grace.... [More]
Directed By: Alex Gibney

#87
Adjusted Score: 87497%
Critics Consensus: While it may not be the definitive concert film (or the insightful backstage look) some will hope for, Michael Jackson's This Is It packs more than enough entertainment value to live up to its ambitious title.
Synopsis: Prior to his untimely death, Jackson was in the midst of preparing for a series of sold-out concerts that were... [More]
Directed By: Kenny Ortega

#86
Adjusted Score: 87556%
Critics Consensus: A fascinating and entertaining film that will open many eyes to the often-questioned tactics of the MPAA and their ratings sytem.
Synopsis: Filmmakers Kimberly Peirce, Wayne Kramer, Michael Tucker and Matt Stone are among those who give commentary in Kirby Dick's examination... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Kirby Dick

#85

Mad Hot Ballroom (2005)
84%

#85
Adjusted Score: 88399%
Critics Consensus: This heartwarming documentary will win audiences over, as the sheer charm of precocious, enthusiastic children learning to dance resonates from the screen.
Synopsis: Documentary filmmaker Marilyn Agrelo chronicles the lives of several New York City schoolchildren as they get ready for a dancing... [More]
Directed By: Marilyn Agrelo

#84

Gunner Palace (2004)
85%

#84
Adjusted Score: 87728%
Critics Consensus: A shapeless documentary, but shows what's it like for the soldiers on the ground.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Michael Tucker makes the journey to war-torn Baghdad to follow the lives of the American troops who make up... [More]
Starring:

#83

Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
82%

#83
Adjusted Score: 90830%
Critics Consensus: Extremely one-sided in its indictment of the Bush administration, but worth watching for the humor and the debates it'll stir.
Synopsis: Michael Moore's political documentary uses humor and connect-the-dots investigative journalism to question the Bush administration's motives for wars in Iraq... [More]
Directed By: Michael Moore

#82

Tyson (2008)
85%

#82
Adjusted Score: 90679%
Critics Consensus: A fascinating, emotional, and frank confessional from Iron Mike that sheds a sympathetic light on one of boxing's most controversial icons.
Synopsis: Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson reflects on his tumultuous life both in and out of the ring. Filmmaker James... [More]
Starring: Mike Tyson
Directed By: James Toback

#81

Bully (2011)
85%

#81
Adjusted Score: 90674%
Critics Consensus: Hard-hitting and gracefully filmed, Bully powerfully delivers an essential message to an audience that may not be able to see it.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Lee Hirsch examines five cases of youths who endure vicious persecution at the hands of their peers. Ja'meye, 14,... [More]
Directed By: Lee Hirsch

#80

Jesus Camp (2006)
87%

#80
Adjusted Score: 90023%
Critics Consensus: Evangelical indoctrination is given an unflinching, even-handed look in this utterly worthwhile documentary.
Synopsis: Filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady visit an evangelical Christian summer camp called Kids on Fire, where children take part... [More]
Directed By: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady

#79

Shine a Light (2008)
86%

#79
Adjusted Score: 89635%
Critics Consensus: It may offer little new for fans, but Martin Scorsese's document of the Rolling Stones' electrifying live show should provide satisfaction to audiences.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Martin Scorsese documents the Rolling Stones' energetic performance at New York's Beacon Theatre. The concert, filmed in 2006, features... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#78

The Wolfpack (2015)
86%

#78
Adjusted Score: 91619%
Critics Consensus: Offering a unique look at modern fears and our fascination with film, The Wolfpack is a fascinating -- and ultimately haunting -- urban fable.
Synopsis: Locked away from the outside world in a Manhattan apartment, the Angulo siblings satisfy their curiosity, imagination and need to... [More]
Directed By: Crystal Moselle

#77
Adjusted Score: 91997%
Critics Consensus: Whether you think this mentally ill cult musician is worthy of being called a "genius," this document of his life is crafted with sincere respect and is fascinating to watch.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Jeff Feuerzeig chronicles the life of a manic-depressive musician and artist, using a blend of home movies, Johnston's own... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Jeff Feuerzeig

#76

The Corporation (2003)
89%

#76
Adjusted Score: 92438%
Critics Consensus: The Corporation is a satisfyingly dense, thought-provoking rebuttal to some of capitalism's central arguments.
Synopsis: This documentary begins with an unusual detail that came from the 14th Amendment: Under constitutional law, corporations are seen as... [More]

#75

Young at Heart (2007)
89%

#75
Adjusted Score: 91742%
Critics Consensus: Full of endearing characters, this doc about a choir of "seniors behaving badly" is uplifting and delightful.
Synopsis: A group of senior citizens performs contemporary rock and pop songs.... [More]
Starring: Stephen Walker
Directed By: Stephen Walker

#74
Adjusted Score: 92080%
Critics Consensus: Fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how Metallica survives one of their more turbulent periods.
Synopsis: After bassist Jason Newsted quits the band in 2001, heavy metal superstars Metallica realize that they need an intervention. In... [More]

#73
Adjusted Score: 92028%
Critics Consensus: A searing indictment of big business and greed, Who Killed The Electric Car? is a well-tuned doc that simultaneously entertains and enrages.
Synopsis: Following a strict mandate on air emissions in California, General Motors launches the EV-1 in 1997. It is an electric... [More]
Directed By: Chris Paine

#72

Shut Up and Sing (2006)
89%

#72
Adjusted Score: 92932%
Critics Consensus: Though ostensibly an intimate look at the Dixie Chicks after their 2003 anti-Bush remark, the film achieves broader relevance by exploring how media, politics, and celebrities intertwine.
Synopsis: Filmmakers Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck examine the consequences of an anti-Bush comment. In 2003 Natalie Maines, singer for the... [More]
Starring:

#71
#71
Adjusted Score: 94163%
Critics Consensus: Gripping, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful, Waiting for Superman is an impassioned indictment of the American school system from An Inconvenient Truth director Davis Guggenheim.
Synopsis: This film by director Davis Guggenheim investigates the public school system in the United States, and uncovers the many ways... [More]
Directed By: Davis Guggenheim

#70

Tim's Vermeer (2013)
89%

#70
Adjusted Score: 93724%
Critics Consensus: Entertaining and profound in equal measure, Tim's Vermeer uses its seemingly esoteric subject to pose fascinating questions about art and obsession.
Synopsis: Inventor Tim Jenison conducts experiments to discover how 17th-century Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer achieved such photographic realism in his paintings.... [More]
Starring: Tim Jenison
Directed By: Teller

#69
Adjusted Score: 94281%
Critics Consensus: Though not objective by any means, The Kid Stays in the Picture is irresistibly entertaining.
Synopsis: Traces the meteoric rise, fall, and rise again of legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans. Adapted from Mr. Evans's tell-all autobiography,... [More]
Starring: Robert Evans

#68

Tarnation (2003)
92%

#68
Adjusted Score: 95007%
Critics Consensus: Using music and home video footage to great effect, Jonathan Caouette has made a very personal and moving film.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Jonathan Caouette examines his family history in this inventive low-budget documentary. Collecting decades' worth of home movies and videotapes,... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Jonathan Caouette

#67
Adjusted Score: 94615%
Critics Consensus: Penetrating Rivers' coarse image, this compelling documentary offers an honest, behind-the-scenes look at her career -- and at show business in general.
Synopsis: This revealing documentary follows the life and career of Joan Rivers, a veteran comedienne arguably more known for her extensive... [More]

#66

Into the Abyss (2011)
92%

#66
Adjusted Score: 96453%
Critics Consensus: Another probing, insightful look at an interesting subject, Werner Herzog explores the American prison system with passion and not politics.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Werner Herzog explores capital punishment through interviews with convicted killers, their victims' families, and members of the Texas criminal... [More]
Starring: Werner Herzog
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#65

Tabloid (2010)
92%

#65
Adjusted Score: 95206%
Critics Consensus: It's far from his most thought-provoking work, but Tabloid finds Errol Morris as smart, spirited, and engaging as ever.
Synopsis: One of America's top documentary filmmakers, Errol Morris, turns his attention to the outrageous and nearly unbelievable story of Joyce... [More]
Directed By: Errol Morris

#64
Adjusted Score: 97083%
Critics Consensus: Dave Chappelle's Block Party is a raucous return to the spotlight for the comic, buoyed by witty, infectious humor and outstanding musical performances.
Synopsis: Actor, writer and comic Dave Chappelle loads up a bus with residents of his Ohio hometown and takes them to... [More]
Starring: Dave Chappelle
Directed By: Michel Gondry

#63

Senna (2010)
93%

#63
Adjusted Score: 96735%
Critics Consensus: Even for filmgoers who aren't racing fans, Senna offers heart-pounding thrills -- and heartbreaking emotion.
Synopsis: Ayrton Senna becomes a three-time Formula One racing champion and Brazil's national hero before his untimely death at age 34.... [More]
Directed By: Asif Kapadia

#62
#62
Adjusted Score: 96963%
Critics Consensus: A remarkable behind-the-scenes look at a movie that wasn't, Lost in La Mancha is an incisive, entertaining document of the difficulties inherent in the moviemaking process.
Synopsis: Visionary director Terry Gilliam has a dream. He wants to film the classic story of Don Quixote by recasting it... [More]
Starring: Jeff Bridges
Directed By: Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe

#61
Adjusted Score: 97045%
Critics Consensus: Delightful and strangely moving.
Synopsis: In Mongolia's Gobi desert, a camel belonging to a group of nomadic shepherds gives birth to a white calf. It's... [More]

#60

Grizzly Man (2005)
92%

#60
Adjusted Score: 97378%
Critics Consensus: Whatever opinion you come to have of the obsessive Treadwell, Herzog has once again found a fascinating subject.
Synopsis: Pieced together from Timothy Treadwell's actual video footage, Werner Herzog's remarkable documentary examines the calling that drove Treadwell to live... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#59

Super Size Me (2004)
92%

#59
Adjusted Score: 98062%
Critics Consensus: Entertaining doc about the adverse effects of eating fast food.
Synopsis: Director Morgan Spurlock's social experiment in fast-food gastronomy sees him attempting to subsist uniquely on food from the McDonald's menu... [More]
Starring: Morgan Spurlock
Directed By: Morgan Spurlock

#58

Best of Enemies (2015)
93%

#58
Adjusted Score: 97454%
Critics Consensus: Smart, fascinating, and funny, Best of Enemies takes a penetrating -- and wildly entertaining -- look back at the dawn of pundit politics.
Synopsis: In 1968, ideological opposites William F. Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal hold a series of riveting, nationally televised debates that... [More]

#57
Adjusted Score: 96966%
Critics Consensus: Encounters at the End of the World offers a poignant study of the human psyche amid haunting landscapes.
Synopsis: Acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog travels to Antarctica, where he finds a desolate, beautiful landscape, largely untouched by human hands, and... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#56
#56
Adjusted Score: 101026%
Critics Consensus: Effectively stirring and bolstered by thrilling visuals, The Eagle Huntress uses its heartwarming message to fill up a feature that might have made for an even more powerful short film.
Synopsis: Aishol-pan, a 13-year-old girl, trains to become the first female in 12 generations of her Kazakh family to become an... [More]
Directed By: Otto Bell

#55
#55
Adjusted Score: 98461%
Critics Consensus: A powerful and uplifting documentary.
Synopsis: Documentary photographer Zana Briski journeyed into Calcutta's underworld to photograph the city's prostitutes. In return, she offered to teach the... [More]
Directed By: Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman

#54
#54
Adjusted Score: 97493%
Critics Consensus: Gripping even though the outcome is known.
Synopsis: In 1985, two young climbers, Joe Simpson (Brendan Mackey) and Simon Yates (Nicholas Aaron), set out to be the first... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Macdonald

#53

Control Room (2004)
95%

#53
Adjusted Score: 98585%
Critics Consensus: A fascinating, enlightening behind-the-scenes look at the Al Jazeera network.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Jehane Noujaim provides a behind-the-scenes look at the operations of Al-Jazeera -- the most prominent television news network in... [More]
Directed By: Jehane Noujaim

#52

Wordplay (2006)
94%

#52
Adjusted Score: 98840%
Critics Consensus: You see them hunched over with their brows furrowed, folded newspaper in hand as they attempt to complete the crossword puzzle. This may even describe you. This ingeniously edited documentary introduces viewers to some of the more dedicated fans of this solitary pastime, none more well-known the puzzle editor for the New York Times, Will Shortz. This underground world provides a surprising amount of crowd-pleasing entertainment and suspense, especially at the annual crossword tournament. Didn't know there was one, did you?
Synopsis: Filmmaker Patrick Creadon pays tribute to crossword puzzles and those who love them, and features a profile of The New... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Patrick Creadon

#51

The Gatekeepers (2012)
94%

#51
Adjusted Score: 97052%
Critics Consensus: Strikingly stark, brutally honest, and rivetingly assembled, The Gatekeepers offers essential perspective on a seemingly intractable war from some of the men who fought it.
Synopsis: Six former heads of Israel's secret service agency, the Shin Bet, discuss their organization's successes and failures since the Six... [More]
Directed By: Dror Moreh

#50
Adjusted Score: 97968%
Critics Consensus: Interesting and appealing as both a study of man and nature.
Synopsis: A homeless musician's life is transformed after he discovers a flock of wild South American parrots living in San Francisco.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Judy Irving

#49

Tickled (2016)
94%

#49
Adjusted Score: 102162%
Critics Consensus: Tickled uses an investigation into a silly-seeming subculture as the launching point for thought-provoking insights into online bullying and the destructive abilities of the internet.
Synopsis: A journalist intends to document an international tickling competition for kicks. Instead, he finds a bizarre and even threatening world... [More]
Directed By: David Farrier, Dylan Reeve

#48
Adjusted Score: 100363%
Critics Consensus: Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World finds Werner Herzog bringing his distinctive documentarian gifts to bear on a timely topic with typically thought-provoking results.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Werner Herzog examines the past, present and future of the Internet and how it affects human interaction and modern... [More]
Starring: Werner Herzog
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#47

Life, Animated (2016)
94%

#47
Adjusted Score: 100835%
Critics Consensus: Life, Animated offers a heartwarming look at one family's journey, and a fascinating message that's more than enough to outweigh its unanswered questions.
Synopsis: "The Little Mermaid," "The Lion King" and other animated Disney movies help a young autistic man to develop reading, writing... [More]
Directed By: Roger Ross Williams

#46

Food, Inc. (2008)
95%

#46
Adjusted Score: 98178%
Critics Consensus: An eye-opening expose of the modern food industry, Food, Inc. is both fascinating and terrifying, and essential viewing for any health-conscious citizen.
Synopsis: Documentary filmmaker Robert Kenner examines how mammoth corporations have taken over all aspects of the food chain in the United... [More]
Directed By: Robert Kenner

#45
#45
Adjusted Score: 98401%
Critics Consensus: Director David Sington poetically interwove 20th Century's cosmonautic history with its effect on the public's view of their country, their heroes and their future.
Synopsis: In 1961, NASA started its Apollo program to realize President John F. Kennedy's dream of putting a man on the... [More]
Directed By: David Sington

#44

Sicko (2007)
91%

#44
Adjusted Score: 100479%
Critics Consensus: Driven by Michael Moore's sincere humanism, Sicko is a devastating, convincing, and very entertaining documentary about the state of America's health care.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Michael Moore examines America's health-care crisis and why millions of citizens are without coverage. Moore spotlights the cases of... [More]
Directed By: Michael Moore

#43

Winged Migration (2001)
95%

#43
Adjusted Score: 99186%
Critics Consensus: A marvel to watch.
Synopsis: This documentary presents an epic portrait of winter bird migration. Filmed on all seven continents over four years, the footage... [More]
Starring: Jacques Perrin
Directed By: Jacques Perrin

#42
#42
Adjusted Score: 98888%
Critics Consensus: This candid, powerful and informative documentary illuminates some of the myths surrounding its dual subjects: global warming and Al Gore.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim follows Al Gore on the lecture circuit, as the former presidential candidate campaigns to raise public awareness... [More]
Starring: Al Gore, Billy West
Directed By: Davis Guggenheim

#41

De Palma (2015)
95%

#41
Adjusted Score: 100437%
Critics Consensus: De Palma may not make believers out of the director's detractors, but they'll likely share longtime fans' fascination with his career's worth of entertaining stories.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Brian De Palma discusses his body of work, including "Sisters," "Obsession," "Carrie," "Dressed to Kill," "Blow Out," "Scarface," "The... [More]
Starring: Brian De Palma

#40

Marley (2012)
95%

#40
Adjusted Score: 98359%
Critics Consensus: Kevin Macdonald's exhaustive, evenhanded portrait of Bob Marley offers electrifying concert footage and fascinating insights into reggae's greatest star.
Synopsis: The life story of musician, revolutionary and legend Bob Marley, from the early days to international superstardom. Features rare footage,... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Macdonald

#39

Gimme Danger (2016)
95%

#39
Adjusted Score: 100344%
Critics Consensus: Its infectious enthusiasm for its subjects - and Iggy Pop's ingratiating presence - more than make up for the effortlessly entertaining Gimme Danger's relative lack of context or depth.
Synopsis: Emerging from Ann Arbor, Mich., amidst a countercultural revolution, The Stooges' powerful and aggressive style of rock 'n' roll blew... [More]
Directed By: Jim Jarmusch

#38

Room 237 (2012)
94%

#38
Adjusted Score: 97946%
Critics Consensus: Mysterious and provocative, Room 237 is a fascinating journey into the world of obsessive cinephilles.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Rodney Ascher analyzes Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation of Stephen King's classic horror novel "The Shining."... [More]
Directed By: Rodney Ascher

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 103516%
Critics Consensus: Their albums may be cult favorites, but this Edgar Wright-directed documentary offers an introduction to Sparks that has something for everyone.
Synopsis: How can one rock band be successful, underrated, hugely influential, and criminally overlooked all at the same time? Edgar Wright's... [More]
Directed By: Edgar Wright

#36

The Imposter (2012)
95%

#36
Adjusted Score: 98231%
Critics Consensus: Despite its true-crime trappings, The Imposter is an utterly gripping and sometimes heartbreaking documentary thriller cleverly told with narrative flair.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Bart Layton chronicles the tale of Frederic Bourdin, a con artist who seemingly tricked a Texas family into believing... [More]
Directed By: Bart Layton

#35

West of Memphis (2012)
95%

#35
Adjusted Score: 98230%
Critics Consensus: Both a sobering look at a true crime story and a scathing indictment of the American justice system, West of Memphis is a real-life horror story told with fury and compassion.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Amy Berg tells the story of the fight to stop the state of Arkansas from executing an innocent man.... [More]
Directed By: Amy Berg

#34

The Cove (2009)
95%

#34
Adjusted Score: 99043%
Critics Consensus: Though decidedly one-sided, The Cove is an impeccably crafted, suspenseful expose of the covert slaughter of dolphins in Japan.
Synopsis: In Taiji, Japan, local fishermen hide a gruesome secret: the capture and slaughter of dolphins. Activist Ric O'Barry, who trained... [More]
Directed By: Louie Psihoyos

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 99641%
Critics Consensus: The Queen of Versailles is a timely, engaging, and richly drawn portrait of the American Dream improbably composed of equal parts compassion and schadenfreude.
Synopsis: The 2008 global economic crisis threatens the fortune of Florida billionaires David and Jackie Siegel just as they are in... [More]
Directed By: Lauren Greenfield

#32
Adjusted Score: 98869%
Critics Consensus: An amusing, engrossing look at underground art, Exit Through the Gift Shop entertains as it deflates the myths and hype surrounding its subjects.
Synopsis: The infamous, shadowy British graffiti street artist Banksy has literally left his mark on cities throughout the world. He comes... [More]
Starring: Rhys Ifans
Directed By: Banksy

#31

Restrepo (2010)
96%

#31
Adjusted Score: 98999%
Critics Consensus: Forsaking narrative structure for pure visceral power, Restrepo plunges viewers into the experiences of soldiers on the front lines of the Afghan War.
Synopsis: Photographer Tim Hetherington and journalist Sebastian Junger allow the realities of war to speak for themselves in this unnarrated documentary... [More]

#30

Undefeated (2011)
96%

#30
Adjusted Score: 99389%
Critics Consensus: It covers familiar sports documentary territory, but Undefeated proves there are still powerful stories to be told on the high school gridiron.
Synopsis: Since its founding in 1899, Manassas High School in North Memphis has never had a football team win a playoff... [More]
Starring: Bill Courtney
Directed By: Dan Lindsay, T.J. Martin

#29

Stories We Tell (2012)
94%

#29
Adjusted Score: 98571%
Critics Consensus: In Stories We Tell, Sarah Polley plays with the documentary format to explore the nature of memory and storytelling, crafting a thoughtful, compelling narrative that unfolds like a mystery.
Synopsis: Through a series of revealing interviews, filmmaker Sarah Polley investigates the truth about her family history.... [More]
Directed By: Sarah Polley

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 98946%
Critics Consensus: A fascinating portrait of a forgotten musical pioneer, Searching for Sugar Man is by turns informative and mysterious.
Synopsis: Though he faded into obscurity in the U.S., an early '70s musician known as Rodriguez became a huge hit in... [More]
Directed By: Malik Bendjelloul

#27

The Fog of War (2003)
96%

#27
Adjusted Score: 100577%
Critics Consensus: The Fog of War draws on decades of bitter experience to offer a piercing perspective on the Cold War from one of its major architects.
Synopsis: Former corporate whiz kid Robert McNamara was the controversial Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, during the... [More]
Directed By: Errol Morris

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 99554%
Critics Consensus: Though it may not always convince, Bowling for Columbine asks important questions and provokes thought.
Synopsis: Political documentary filmmaker Michael Moore explores the circumstances that lead to the 1999 Columbine High School massacre and, more broadly,... [More]
Directed By: Michael Moore

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 100894%
Critics Consensus: Hauntingly filmed and brimming with Herzog's infectious enthusiasm, Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a fascinating triumph.
Synopsis: In this documentary, filmmaker Werner Herzog and a small crew are given a rare chance to film inside France's Chauvet... [More]
Starring: Werner Herzog
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#24
Adjusted Score: 100563%
Critics Consensus: The King of Kong is funny and compelling with more than a few poignant insights into human behavior. Director Seth Gordon presents the dueling King Kong players in all their obsessive complexity and with perfectly al dente observations.
Synopsis: Named "Video Game Player of the Century" in 1999, Billy Mitchell sets a record score in "Donkey Kong" that many... [More]
Directed By: Seth Gordon

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 101902%
Critics Consensus: Essential viewing for cineastes while still offering rich rewards for neophytes, Hitchcock/Truffaut offers an affectionate -- and well-crafted -- tribute to a legend.
Synopsis: Filmmakers Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Wes Anderson and others discuss the legacy of Alfred Hitchcock and the book "Hitchcock" by... [More]
Directed By: Kent Jones

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 101210%
Critics Consensus: Only the most hardened soul won't be moved by this heartwarming doc.
Synopsis: At the end of each Antarctic summer, the emperor penguins of the South Pole journey to their traditional breeding grounds... [More]
Starring: Morgan Freeman
Directed By: Luc Jacquet

#21
Adjusted Score: 101312%
Critics Consensus: A concise, entertaining documentary about the spectacular failure of Enron.
Synopsis: This documentary explores the fall of the Enron Corporation, arguably the most shocking example of modern corporate corruption. The company... [More]
Starring: Peter Coyote
Directed By: Alex Gibney

#20

Spellbound (2002)
97%

#20
Adjusted Score: 101459%
Critics Consensus: A suspenseful, gripping documentary that features an engaging cross section of American children.
Synopsis: Eight youthful competitors, sponsored by their hometown newspapers, travel with their families to Washington, D.C., to compete in the 1999... [More]
Directed By: Jeffrey Blitz

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 104230%
Critics Consensus: The Look of Silence delivers a less shocking -- yet just as terribly compelling -- companion piece to Joshua Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing.
Synopsis: An optician confronts the men who killed the brother that he never knew during the 1960s Indonesian genocide.... [More]
Directed By: Joshua Oppenheimer

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 101509%
Critics Consensus: Raw, terrifying, and painfully difficult to watch, The Act of Killing offers a haunting testament to the edifying, confrontational power of documentary cinema.
Synopsis: Filmmakers expose the horrifying mass executions of accused communists in Indonesia and those who are celebrated in their country for... [More]
Directed By: Joshua Oppenheimer

#17

Coup 53 (2019)
100%

#17
Adjusted Score: 101884%
Critics Consensus: Rife with the political intrigue promised by its title, Coup 53 is a spellbinding documentary with the heart of a thriller.
Synopsis: The story of Operation Ajax, the CIA/MI6 staged coup in 1953 in Iran that overthrew Prime Minister Mossadegh.... [More]
Starring: Walter Murch
Directed By: Taghi Amirani

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 102050%
Critics Consensus: A haunting depiction of a disintegrating family, and a powerful argument on the elusiveness of truth.
Synopsis: While preparing a documentary about children's birthday party entertainers, filmmaker Andrew Jarecki learned that one of his subjects, professional clown... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Jarecki

#15

Project Nim (2011)
97%

#15
Adjusted Score: 102325%
Critics Consensus: Equal parts hilarious, poignant, and heartbreaking, Project Nim not only tells a compelling story masterfully, but also raises the flag on the darker side of human nature.
Synopsis: In the 1970s, professor Herb Terrace and his team raise a baby chimp as a human child, as part of... [More]
Directed By: James Marsh

#14

Citizenfour (2014)
96%

#14
Adjusted Score: 100535%
Critics Consensus: Part real-life thriller, part sobering examination of 21st century civil liberties, Citizenfour transcends ideology to offer riveting, must-see cinema.
Synopsis: After Laura Poitras received encrypted emails from someone with information on the government's massive covert-surveillance programs, she and reporter Glenn... [More]
Directed By: Laura Poitras

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 101845%
Critics Consensus: A wholly innovative, original, and vital history lesson, with pioneering animation, Waltz With Bashir delivers its message about the Middle East in a mesmerizing fashion.
Synopsis: Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman wrote, directed and stars in this autobiographical animated film. As a 19-year-old infantry soldier in the... [More]
Directed By: Ari Folman

#12

Inside Job (2010)
98%

#12
Adjusted Score: 102368%
Critics Consensus: Disheartening but essential viewing, Charles Ferguson's documentary explores the 2008 Global Financial Crisis with exemplary rigor.
Synopsis: The global financial meltdown that took place in Fall 2008 caused millions of job and home losses and plunged the... [More]
Directed By: Charles Ferguson

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 102362%
Critics Consensus: A touching, uplifting and inspirational rockumentary about an aging metal band, both hilarious and heart-warming in equal measure.
Synopsis: Canadian heavy-metal band Anvil delivered a highly influential 1982 album that would inspire the likes of Anthrax and Metallica, and... [More]
Directed By: Sacha Gervasi

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 101677%
Critics Consensus: Part thoughtful tribute, part bittersweet reminder of a missed opportunity, Jodorowsky's Dune offers a fascinating look at a lost sci-fi legend.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky discusses how he would have adapted Frank Herbert's classic sci-fi novel "Dune" for the big screen.... [More]
Directed By: Frank Pavich

#9

Murderball (2005)
98%

#9
Adjusted Score: 102289%
Critics Consensus: An entertaining and gripping documentary that shows being confined to a wheelchair doesn't mean the fun has to end.
Synopsis: This documentary introduces the U.S. quad rugby team -- a team composed entirely of young paraplegic men. Using special wheelchairs... [More]
Starring:

#8

Blackfish (2013)
98%

#8
Adjusted Score: 102856%
Critics Consensus: Blackfish is an aggressive, impassioned documentary that will change the way you look at performance killer whales.
Synopsis: The story of Tilikum, a captive killer whale that has taken the lives of several people, underscores problems within the... [More]

#7

Kedi (2016)
98%

#7
Adjusted Score: 106182%
Critics Consensus: Kedi is a cat fancier's dream, but this thoughtful, beautifully filmed look at Istanbul's street feline population offers absorbing viewing for filmgoers of any purr-suasion.
Synopsis: Hundreds of thousands of cats have roamed the metropolis of Istanbul freely for thousands of years, wandering in and out... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Ceyda Torun

#6

Amy (2015)
95%

#6
Adjusted Score: 104072%
Critics Consensus: As riveting as it is sad, Amy is a powerfully honest look at the twisted relationship between art and celebrity -- and the lethal spiral of addiction.
Synopsis: Archival footage and personal testimonials present an intimate portrait of the life and career of British singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse.... [More]
Directed By: Asif Kapadia

#5

Weiner (2016)
97%

#5
Adjusted Score: 106753%
Critics Consensus: Weiner uses sharp insight and untrammeled access to offer a portrait of a political and personal collapse that's as queasy as it is undeniably compelling.
Synopsis: Former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) runs for mayor of New York in 2013, but a new sex scandal ruins his... [More]

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 104006%
Critics Consensus: Rich, insightful, and occasionally heartbreaking, 20 Feet From Stardom is an energetic tribute to the passion, talent, and hard work of backup singers.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Morgan Neville shines a long-overdue spotlight on the hit-making contributions of longtime backup singers like Darlene Love and Merry... [More]
Directed By: Morgan Neville

#3

Man on Wire (2008)
100%

#3
Adjusted Score: 106113%
Critics Consensus: James Marsh's doc about artist Phililppe Petit's artful caper brings you every ounce of suspense that can be wrung from a man on a (suspended) wire.
Synopsis: Using actual footage from the event seamlessly mingled with new re-enactments, filmmaker James Marsh masterfully recreates high-wire daredevil Philippe Petit's... [More]
Directed By: James Marsh

#2

Life Itself (2014)
98%

#2
Adjusted Score: 105073%
Critics Consensus: Rich in detail and warmly affectionate, Life Itself offers a joyful yet poignant tribute to a critical cinematic legacy.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Steve James chronicles the life of film critic Roger Ebert, especially his career highlights, his battle with alcohol, and... [More]
Directed By: Steve James

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 113451%
Critics Consensus: I Am Not Your Negro offers an incendiary snapshot of James Baldwin's crucial observations on American race relations -- and a sobering reminder of how far we've yet to go.
Synopsis: In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, "Remember This House." The book... [More]
Directed By: Raoul Peck

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