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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.

Adjusted Score: 77.322%
Critics Consensus: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold plays smartly to Spurlock's strengths, and the result is a breezy, albeit not particularly enlightening documentary.
Synopsis: Director Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me, 30 Days) examines the increased proliferation of branding in every aspect of our lives... [More]
Directed By: Morgan Spurlock

Adjusted Score: 80.335%
Critics Consensus: Love him or hate him, Capitalism captures Michael Moore in his muckraking element -- with all the Moore-centric showmanship that entails.
Synopsis: Michael Moore returns to controversial territory with this documentary examining the events that led to the global financial crisis. Bob... [More]
Directed By: Michael Moore

Adjusted Score: 81.618%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Page One: Inside The New York Times deftly gains unprecedented access to The New York Times newsroom and the inner... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Rossi

Adjusted Score: 82.912%
Critics Consensus: An affectionate tribute to rock's most distinctive instrument, It Might Get Loud is insightful and musically satisfying.
Synopsis: Rarely can a film penetrate the glamorous surface of rock legends. It Might Get Loud tells the personal stories, in... [More]
Directed By: Davis Guggenheim

Adjusted Score: 82.346%
Critics Consensus: Well researched and finely crafted, Standard Operating Procedure is another gem from master documentarian Errol Morris.
Synopsis: "Standard Operating Procedure" provides an examination of the unintended consequences of the Iraqi war with a focus on events at... [More]
Directed By: Errol Morris


Why We Fight (2006)

Adjusted Score: 82.217%
Critics Consensus: A provocative and timely film that explores the military/industrial complex and the motivating forces that lead us to war.
Synopsis: "Why We Fight" is an unflinching look at the military industrial complex and the rise of the American Empire. Inspired... [More]
Directed By: Eugene Jarecki


The Aristocrats (2005)

Adjusted Score: 83.541%
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: Comedy veterans and co-creators Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza capitalize on their insider status and invite over 100 of their... [More]

Adjusted Score: 84.843%
Critics Consensus: Where to Invade Next finds documentarian Michael Moore approaching progressive politics with renewed -- albeit unabashedly one-sided -- vigor.
Synopsis: This is an expansive, rib-tickling, and subversive comedy in which Moore, playing the role of "invader," visits a host of... [More]
Starring: Michael Moore
Directed By: Michael Moore

Adjusted Score: 82.351%
Critics Consensus: The underwater footage is both beautiful and awe-inspiring.
Synopsis: Director James Cameron journeys back to the site of his greatest inspiration--the legendary wreck of the Titanic. With a team... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron


Catfish (2010)

Adjusted Score: 83.892%
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: In late 2007, filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost sensed a story unfolding as they began to film the life... [More]

Adjusted Score: 84.926%
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: A decade after An Inconvenient Truth brought climate change into the heart of popular culture comes the riveting and rousing... [More]
Starring: Al Gore
Directed By: Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk

Adjusted Score: 86.405%
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: "Michael Jackson's This Is It" will offer Jackson fans and music lovers worldwide a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the performer... [More]
Starring: Michael Jackson
Directed By: Kenny Ortega

Adjusted Score: 85.508%
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: Morris' film THE UNKNOWN KNOWN is a gripping exploration of the career and philosophy of former U.S Secretary of Defense... [More]
Directed By: Errol Morris

Adjusted Score: 85.823%
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: In 2009 Alex Gibney was hired to make a film about Lance Armstrong's comeback to cycling. The project was shelved... [More]
Directed By: Alex Gibney

Adjusted Score: 85.912%
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: "The September Issue" is an intimate, funny and surprising look at Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of "Vogue" magazine for 20 years,... [More]
Directed By: R.J. Cutler

Adjusted Score: 86.493%
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: An examination of the unanticipated lasting cultural impact generated by "Deep Throat", a sexually explicit film first shown in a... [More]


Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)

Adjusted Score: 88.482%
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: An expose which reflects upon what has happened to America since the events of September 11, 2001 that touches upon... [More]
Directed By: Michael Moore

Adjusted Score: 87.368%
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: This documentary investigates Hollywood's best-kept secret: the MPAA film ratings system and its profound impact on American culture.... [More]
Directed By: Kirby Dick


Mad Hot Ballroom (2005)

Adjusted Score: 87.493%
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: This is a profile of several New York City's public school kids and their journey into the world of ballroom... [More]
Directed By: Marilyn Agrelo


Gunner Palace (2005)

Adjusted Score: 87.931%
Critics Consensus: A shapeless documentary, but shows what's it like for the soldiers on the ground.
Synopsis: Shortly after President George W. Bush announced that "major combat operations have ended" in the war in Iraq, filmmaker Michael... [More]


Tyson (2009)

Adjusted Score: 88.951%
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: "Tyson" is acclaimed indie director James Toback's stylistically inventive portrait of a mesmerizing Mike Tyson. Toback allows Tyson to reveal... [More]
Directed By: James Toback


Bully (2012)

Adjusted Score: 89.347%
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: Directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, Bully is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. At its heart are... [More]
Directed By: Lee Hirsch


The Wolfpack (2015)

Adjusted Score: 90.789%
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 society in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Angulo brothers learn about the... [More]
Directed By: Crystal Moselle


Shine a Light (2008)

Adjusted Score: 89.037%
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: This Rolling Stones documentary focuses on the two concerts from the group's current "A Bigger Bang" tour and includes scenes... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese


Jesus Camp (2006)

Adjusted Score: 89.878%
Critics Consensus: Evangelical indoctrination is given an unflinching, even-handed look in this utterly worthwhile documentary.
Synopsis: The youngest foot soldiers for the Lord are shown in their native environment in this documentary. Becky Fischer is a... [More]
Directed By: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady

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