What are the best documentaries on Netflix?

asked by Anonymous
165 contributors
19 solutions
  1. 24

    #1Room 237

    Room 237

    This obsessive movie is a documentary that explores the fan theories that explain one of the most surprising and metaphoric horror movie of all time, The Shining. This documentary explores, almost frame by frame, every visual aspect, every metaphor, every context of Stanley Kubrick's masterwork.


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    Tyler Cooper
    Written on August 10, 2017
    "Ah Netflix making cable obsolete since it started. Room 237 is an awesome documentary that takes you deep into World War II. It follows those Hollywood directors that went from making movies to enlisting in the U.S military. If you love documentaries then this is a must to watch."
  2. 22

    #2Five Came Back

    Five Came Back
    Five Came Back is a documentary directed by Laurent Bouzereau. It was released in 2017 and starred Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, and others. It has five stories about Hollywood directors who enlisted to fight in World War II.

    Varies by plan

    Paul Barrett
    Written on July 17, 2017
    "If you are interested in documentaries then look no further than Netflix. The documentary "Five Came Back " can easily be found an downloaded on Netflix. This great Stephen Spielberg film is easy to buy and you can watch it within minutes. It is a great historical flic!"
  3. 19

    #3The Thin Blue Line

    The Thin Blue Line
    The Thin Blue Line is a documentary directed by Errol Morris. It was released in 1988 and revolved around the controversial cop murder case against Randall Adams. The documentary was crucial in proving the innocence of Adams.

    $4.99- $12.99

    Sharon Gomez
    Written on February 26, 2017
    "The grandaddy of all crime documentaries. Before Making a Murderer, before Serial, this was the documentary that started it all. In fact it pioneered the technique of using actors to re-enact true life events. Immensely interesting with a compelling story, compelling characters and just some great storytelling, anyone who enjoys any sort of documentary will love this particular one. If you like crime documentaries, then you must watch this."


Did you know that Netflix has broken a long-standing record with its nominations at the 2018 Emmy Awards? It received 112 nominations at the 2018 Emmy Awards and became the first company to get a bigger number than HBO in 17 years. It managed to beat HBO by racking up nominations from a total of 40 shows, including multi-award winning series, House of Cards and the Crown. Even though known for outstanding web-TV series and party movies, one can find award-winning documentaries on Netflix as well.

In 2015, Netflix released the Emmy and Grammy Award-winning documentary entitled What Happened, Miss Simone, a biopic about Nina Simone, the jazz and soul singer who became an icon for the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. A year later, Netflix released Academy Award winner, the White Helmets, a short film about volunteer rescuers of the Syrian Civil Defense. It also released 13th, a film about the connection of racial prejudice in incarceration and other societal aspects. It also has a lot of serial killer documentaries like Making a Murderer. But Netflix's latest crown jewel is Bryan Fogel's and Dan Cogan's Icarus, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2018. The film is about the controversial use of performance-enhancing drugs even in amateur competitions in Russia.

  1. 15

    #4Cave of Forgotten Dreams

    Cave of Forgotten Dreams

    Cave of Forgotten Dreams is the approximation by German director Werner Herzog to the mistery of the ancient art of cave paintings. Herzog explores the cave of Chauvet in France, where there are some of the eldest paintings of Humanity.


    Varies by plan

    Kathleen Porter
    Written on July 2, 2017
    "A must for fans of Werner Herzog, his narration juxtaposed over the images of the caves is as fitting as ever. The documentary is gorgeously shot and was originally released in 3D, but it still looks fantastic in a regular tv. With his trademark style he shows something that could seem quite simple at first blush, but manages to make it into something fascinating and profound. A documentary that will leave you thinking days afterward."
  2. 14

    #5Man on Wire

    Man on Wire

    Man on Wire is a BBC documentary which explores Philippe Petit's preparations for historically walking across a high wire between New York's Twin Towers. This documentary was directed by James Marsh.


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    Deborah Reid
    Written on June 6, 2017
    "Perhaps one of the most thrilling documentaries ever released, the story itself is really interesting but the star here is the tight storytelling. It almost feels like watching a heist, with the way things are planned and executed. Really a testament to what good film making can do to an already engaging story, and a pleasure to watch for anyone who enjoys documentaries."
  3. 13

    #6Life Itself

    Life Itself

    Life Itself is a biographical documentary about Roger Ebert, winner of a Pulitzer and one of the few critics that could make a movie fail or be a success by his criticism and reviews. Life Itself focus on the alcoholism and private life of Ebert and his rivalry with Gene Siskel.


    $3.99- $12.99

    David Ellis
    Written on January 23, 2017
    "This is an interesting documentary featured on Netflix, but there are others which are surely more interesting. This one follows the life of Roger Ebert and chronicles his ups and downs through his career. It is good in the sense that it's not trying to sell you something or push pseudo-science like some other documentaries, though."
  4. 10

    #7Biggie and Tupac

    Biggie and Tupac

    Biggie and Tupac were two of the most famous rappers from the 90s when the tensions of the two hip-hop scenes, East Coast and West Coast, were on the rise. Both rappers were murdered in 1997 and this documentary investigates the reasons for the death of the singers with surprising information.


    Varies by plan

    Shirley Dunn
    Written on March 5, 2017
    "Telling the story of two of the most famous and controversial hip hop stars of the 90's is no easy feat, but this documentary avoids many of the pitfalls in the genre and delivers a mostly fact-based story. No overt sensationalism or crazy conspiracy theories, but just a story of how they both were, what they meant to music, and how their lives ended, as told by the various different people in their lives. Specially for fans of hip hop, this is a really well done documentary."
  5. 9

    #8Karl Marx City

    Karl Marx City

    Karl Marx City is a documentary directed by documentalist Petra Epperlen with the help of Michael Tucker. It was released in 2016. It is about Epperlein and her investigation of her father's death in 1990 in East Germany.


    Varies by plan

    Megan Keller
    Written on May 23, 2017
    "A story about the banality of evil, or rather, how normal people can get caught up and go along with morally reprehensible actions in order to just survive or be left alone for another day. A fascinating look into the mindset of people in a police state, and the scars they're left with after these regimes collapse but people are haunted by the things they have done. Sometimes hard to watch, but always interesting, this is a top notch piece of storytelling and personal drama."
  6. 9

    #9Pumping Iron

    Pumping Iron

    Pumping Iron is a docudrama about the 1975 bodybuilding championships of Mr Olympia and Mr Universe. The documentary focuses on Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno and Franco Columbu, actual legends of bodybuilding that later became actors and start a career in Hollywood.


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    Rachel Carr
    Written on October 2, 2017
    "Very interesting documentary about Arnold Schwarzenegger and other that I highly recommend to anyone. It goes pretty in depth into his life and the struggles of being a bodybuilder and how much you have to sacrifice, really interesting. "
  7. 6

    #10The Witness Documentary

    The Witness Documentary

    The Witness is a documentary directed by James D. Solomon and was released in 2016. It is about the 38 people who witnessed the murder of Kitty Genovese but did not do anything. Kitty's brother, Bill, is one of the speakers in the documentary.


    Varies by plan

    Moisés Sánchez
    Written on April 12, 2017
    "This one is better. Once again the solution is accurate in so far as the result is a documentary and it is on Netflix. Member reviews paint an overall very positive picture of the documentary's quality. However the analysis lets me down again by not giving me much beyond a synopsis."
  8. 4

    #11Man vs Snake

    Man vs Snake

    Man vs Snake is a documentary directed by Andrew Seklir and Tim Kinzy. It was released in 2016 and is about Tim McVey, who had to decide between trying to reinforce his title as the man who scored more than a billion points on a single game of Nibbler.


    Varies by plan

    Ronald Cruz
    Written on July 1, 2017
    "While this is also a documentary on Neflix, I don't think this should be considered a great solution like the last one. Checking the member reviews, I found that overall it's a pretty mixed bag when it comes to opinions about this documentary. The analysis doesn't help me much in deciding if the documentary is good; it simply just offers me a quick synopsis. I have no idea, why this solution was recommended as a "best" documentary, it is neither well known nor well received."
  9. 1

    #12What Happened, Miss Simone?

    What Happened, Miss Simone?

    What Happened, Miss Simone? is a documentary directed by Liz Garbus. It was released in 2015 and is about Nina Simone, the jazz, blues, soul singer and pianist who was also one of the icons of the Civil Rights Movement.


    Varies by plan

    Kenneth Bowman
    Written on February 26, 2017
    "The solution is indeed a documentary and it is indeed on Netflix. And since I actually have a Netflix account, I can see that member reviews within Netflix have the documentary highly rated with most people giving it 5 out of 5 stars. The analysis justifies this selection by pointing out that it was nominated for Best Documentary Oscar. I think this result is actually perfect as it hits all the marks."
  10. 0

    #13Abducted in Plain Sight

    Abducted in Plain Sight

    Abducted in Plain Sight is a 2019 crime documentary on Netflix directed by Skye Borgman. In this documentary based on a true crime story, the Brobergs become victims of their deceiving neighbor who abduct the Brobergs' 12-year-old daughter.


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    Ahlia Al-Sulaiti
    Written on May 6, 2019
    "A chilling crime documentary in which a family's neighbor abducts their daughter in multiple instances."
  11. 0

    #14Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

    Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

    Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes is a documentary television series created by Joe Berlinger in 2019. With 4 episodes, it was released on Netflix. 

    TV Shows

    Varies by plan

    Jnn Stn
    Written on February 11, 2019
    "I'm a fan of true crime shows and I've already read a lot about Ted Bundy. He's the modern day Jack the Ripper of America basically and I love how this docuseries gave light to his killings through Bundy's own narration... One of the best documentaries by Netflix.."
  12. 0

    #15Casting Jonbenet

    Casting Jonbenet

    Casting JonBenet is a documentary originally produced by Netflix and directed by Kitty Green. It was released in 2017 and had a cast that has actors and actresses from JonBenet Ramsey's hometown. The show revolves around the actress' 1996 murder case.


    $7.99- Varies by plan

    Abhinav Tata
    Written on December 18, 2018
    "Nice Netflix original! one of the best documentaries i've watched in the last few years. Interesting idea on how to direct it, very far from the traditional way of making documentaries. A nice way to slightly decrease the tension and sadness from such a sorrowful story. "
  13. 0

    #16Sunshine Superman

    Sunshine Superman

    Sunshine Superman is a biographical documentary directed by Marah Strauch. It was released in 2014 and is about the controversial life and career of Carl Boenish, the freefall cinematographer who invented BASE jumping.


    $7.99- Varies by plan

    Julia Sotelo
    Written on December 18, 2018
    "I recommend this! one of the best documentaries i've watched ever!!! Fantastic work from Marah Strauch. Happy to see it is till on Netflix!! I am onto watching the other shows on this list! :)"
  14. 0

    #17The Bleeding Edge

    The Bleeding Edge

    The Bleeding Edge is a documentary originally created by Netflix and directed by Kirby Dick. It was released in 2018. It is about the negative effects of the speedy development of medicine, particularly surgery and rehabilitation.


    $7.99- Varies by plan

    Justin Tran
    Written on December 18, 2018
    "a documentary with a great five-star story! rarely see a docu about surgery so this is definitely a great watrching experience!"
  15. 0

    #18Brother's Keeper

    Brother's Keeper

    Brother's Keeper is a biographical documentary directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. It was released in 1992. The film revolved around the Ward brothers - three illiterate farmers who spent their whole lives on an old shack. 


    $7.99- Varies by plan

    Kyle Taylor
    Written on December 18, 2018
    "sad story :( but a great one! happy that they were able to document such an amazing life for these three Ward brothers. Great one Netflix!"
  16. 0

    #19Something Ventured

    Something Ventured

    Something Ventured (2011) is a documentary film directed by Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine. It investigates the emergence of venture capitalism in USA from the middle of the 20th century and the birth of successful tech companies like Apple, Cisco, Intel or Atari.


    varies by plan

    Amit Mittal
    Written on December 18, 2018
    "this is how modern documentaries should be created imho. thanks netflix for this good one!!"


Best What are the best documentaries on Netflix
1Room 237Movies 24 Paid
2Five Came BackMovies 22 Paid
3The Thin Blue LineMovies 19 Paid
4Cave of Forgotten DreamsMovies 15 Paid
5Man on WireMovies 14 Paid
6Life ItselfMovies 13 Paid
7Biggie and TupacMovies 10 Paid
8Karl Marx CityMovies 9 Paid
9Pumping IronMovies 9 Paid
10The Witness DocumentaryMovies 6 Paid

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