Best Documentaries Ranked by Tomatometer

#50
#50
Adjusted Score: 96.291%
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: A documentary that details and depicts the pre-production and the first six days of production of acclaimed director Terry Gilliam's... [More]
Directed By: Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe

#49

Life, Animated (2016)
94%

#49
Adjusted Score: 97.343%
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 inspirational story of Owen Suskind, a young man who was unable to speak as a child until he and... [More]
Directed By: Roger Ross Williams

#48

The Cove (2009)
94%

#48
Adjusted Score: 97.458%
Critics Consensus: Though decidedly one-sided, The Cove is an impeccably crafted, suspenseful expose of the covert slaughter of dolphins in Japan.
Synopsis: In the 1960s, Richard O'Barry enjoyed a lucrative career as a specialized animal trainer; he captured the five dolphins that... [More]
Directed By: Louie Psihoyos

#47
#47
Adjusted Score: 97.414%
Critics Consensus: Gripping even though the outcome is known.
Synopsis: In 1985, two adventurous young mountaineers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, set off to climb the treacherous west face of... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Macdonald

#46

Best Of Enemies (2015)
94%

#46
Adjusted Score: 97.79%
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 the summer of 1968, television news changed forever. Dead last in the ratings, ABC hired two towering public intellectuals... [More]

#45
#45
Adjusted Score: 97.983%
Critics Consensus: A fascinating portrait of a forgotten musical pioneer, Searching for Sugar Man is by turns informative and mysterious.
Synopsis: Searching for Sugar Man tells the incredible true story of Rodriguez, the greatest '70s rock icon who never was. Discovered... [More]
Directed By: Malik Bendjelloul

#44

Room 237 (2013)
94%

#44
Adjusted Score: 98.28%
Critics Consensus: Mysterious and provocative, Room 237 is a fascinating journey into the world of obsessive cinephilles.
Synopsis: Many movies lend themselves to dramatic interpretations, but none as rich and far ranging as Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. In... [More]
Directed By: Rodney Ascher

#43

Stories We Tell (2013)
94%

#43
Adjusted Score: 98.446%
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: In this inspired, genre-twisting new film, Oscar (R)-nominated writer/director Sarah Polley discovers that the truth depends on who's telling it.... [More]
Directed By: Sarah Polley

#42
Adjusted Score: 97.621%
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: Society depends on the Internet for nearly everything but rarely do we step back and recognize its endless intricacies and... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#41
#41
Adjusted Score: 99.769%
Critics Consensus: Only the most hardened soul won't be moved by this heartwarming doc.
Synopsis: Emperor penguins overcome daunting obstacles in order to return to their breeding grounds for mating season. This tells the story... [More]
Directed By: Luc Jacquet

#40

Amy (2015)
95%

#40
Adjusted Score: 102.497%
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: Despite just two albums to her name Amy Winehouse is one of the biggest music icons in British history. With... [More]
Directed By: Asif Kapadia

#39
#39
Adjusted Score: 97.398%
Critics Consensus: A powerful and uplifting documentary.
Synopsis: This film is a portrait of a group of unforgettable children in Calcutta's red light district. Feisty, resilient and wickedly... [More]
Directed By: Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman

#38
Adjusted Score: 97.702%
Critics Consensus: Interesting and appealing as both a study of man and nature.
Synopsis: Telegraph Hill is a neighborhood in one of the hillier sections of San Francisco that over the years has become... [More]
Directed By: Judy Irving

#37

Food, Inc. (2009)
95%

#37
Adjusted Score: 97.836%
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: In "Food, Inc.," filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that's... [More]
Directed By: Robert Kenner

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 98.093%
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: Between 1968 and 1972, nine American spacecraft voyaged to the Moon, and 12 men walked upon its surface. They remain... [More]
Directed By: David Sington

#35

Marley (2012)
95%

#35
Adjusted Score: 98.113%
Critics Consensus: Kevin Macdonald's exhaustive, evenhanded portrait of Bob Marley offers electrifying concert footage and fascinating insights into reggae's greatest star.
Synopsis: Bob Marley's universal appeal, impact on music history and role as a social and political prophet is both unique and... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Macdonald

#34

Gimme Danger (2016)
94%

#34
Adjusted Score: 97.343%
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 Michigan amidst a countercultural revolution, The Stooges' powerful and aggressive style of rock-n-roll blew a crater... [More]
Directed By: Jim Jarmusch

#33

De Palma (2016)
95%

#33
Adjusted Score: 98.386%
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: One of the most talented, influential, and iconoclastic filmmakers of all time, Brian De Palma's career started in the 60s... [More]

#32

The Imposter (2012)
96%

#32
Adjusted Score: 99.509%
Critics Consensus: Despite its true-crime trappings, The Imposter is an utterly gripping and sometimes heartbreaking documentary thriller cleverly told with narrative flair.
Synopsis: Nicholas was 13 the day he disappeared (June 13, 1994). He would have been 16 and 8 months when he... [More]
Directed By: Bart Layton

#31
#31
Adjusted Score: 99.519%
Critics Consensus: Though it may not always convince, Bowling for Columbine asks important questions and provokes thought.
Synopsis: A look at America's love affair with firearms and the pathology of violence in the United States, which has the... [More]
Directed By: Michael Moore

#30

Wordplay (2006)
95%

#30
Adjusted Score: 98.545%
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: This documentary film provides an in-depth look at "The New York Times" crossword puzzle, its editor Will Shortz and the... [More]
Directed By: Patrick Creadon

#29

Winged Migration (2003)
96%

#29
Adjusted Score: 99.311%
Critics Consensus: A marvel to watch.
Synopsis: A series of journeys around the world with migratory birds. As the seasons and the climates change, we follow different... [More]
Starring: Jacques Perrin

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 99.368%
Critics Consensus: Hauntingly filmed and brimming with Herzog's infectious enthusiasm, Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a fascinating triumph.
Synopsis: Cave of Forgotten Dreams follows an exclusive expedition into the nearly inaccessible Chauvet Cave in France, home to the most... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#27

West of Memphis (2012)
96%

#27
Adjusted Score: 99.47%
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: From director Amy Berg, in collaboration with first time Producers Damien Echols and Lorri Davis along with filmmakers Peter Jackson... [More]
Directed By: Amy Berg

#26

Control Room (2004)
96%

#26
Adjusted Score: 98.493%
Critics Consensus: A fascinating, enlightening behind-the-scenes look at the Al Jazeera network.
Synopsis: A chronicle which provides a rare window into the international perception of the Iraq War, courtesy of Al Jazeera, the... [More]
Directed By: Jehane Noujaim

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