Favorite Documentaries

I was in the mood to watch a documentary today, but I couldn’t think of any to see. Hence this thread. In addition to recommending docs, discuss favorites, ones that surprised you, critically acclaimed docs that you didn’t care for.

3 Responses to “Favorite Documentaries”


  1. Mitchell

    Interesting that you should post this. On the day you posted it, I was already making my top 10 documentaries list. My IMDB list, which is far from complete but which I think is a good general indicator of things, says that only 3.6% of the films I’ve seen are documentaries. Considering how much I like the genre, that’s a little disappointing.

    Still don’t really have them in order, but here are the standouts:

    The Up movies. I know your ardor for these has waned, but these are hands-down the best documentaries ever, and each new installment has been more interesting than the last.

    Born into Brothels. I’m into photography anyway, but it’s the heartbreak of knowing that places like this exist, and that children like this exist that always stays with me.

    Dogtown and Z-Boys. I love films like this, which document specific times, people, and places that shaped gigantic movements. That world is not my world, but how cool it is to listen to the people who were there recount the critical events. Films like this are important because they document (aha!) important cultural stuff that history books won’t bother to include.

    Get Thrashed and Hype! for the same reasons as Dogtown. Honestly, I don’t know how into the music you have to be to appreciate or enjoy these films, because I cannot separate my subjective enjoyment of the subject from how interesting I find both movies. Of the two, I think Hype!, which chronicles the rise of Seattle music in the early nineties, is the more interesting picture.

    Roger and Me. There’s nothing left to say about this. Plus, you’ve seen it.

    Supersize Me. Fun, fascinating film.

    Spellbound. Probably my second-favorite documentary of all time.

    Woodstock. Another film about which nothing more needs to be said.

    The War Room. I’m so glad I saw this. The interactions between Stephanopolous and Carville are forever etched in my brain. I think I like them both a lot better than I already would have because of this.

    The Celluloid Closet. I think this is a film all film-lovers should see. The “faggot” montage all by itself made this worth the admission, and I think of it almost every time I hear someone use that word.

    Word Play. My favorite documentary ever. In a couple of small but definite ways, it changed my life.

    Bowling for Columbine.

    Beyond the Mat. Okay, this one I can separate. I don’t think it’d be that interesting at all for anyone who wasn’t interested in professional wrestling.

    —–

    Documentaries I disliked.

    Looking for Richard. Boring.
    The Real Cancun. Stupid and boring.
    Gates of Heaven. Disliked is a strong word, but Ebert overhyped it for me.

  2. Reid

    I’ve seen most of those you mentioned, and pretty much enjoyed each one. I’m somewhat interested in Dogtown, although I was curious about the feature film version (which I heard was pretty good). Did you see that?

    I really like well-done political (War Room) and crime documentaries (i.e. A Thin Blue Line), although I wonder if I’ll still like crime documentaries. There was one called Paradise Lost: the Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills that I liked.

    You really think the Up series is the best documentaries ever, huh? Have you see Hoop Dreams or Shoah? There’s also a documentary called High School by Frederick Wiseman that I think you would like, if you haven’t seen already.

  3. Mitchell

    I haven’t seen Hoop Dreams and I don’t know if I’ll ever see Shoah, ‘though by the time the UP series is done, I guess I’ll have spent as much time watching them as I would watching Shoah, so I guess I am not ruling it out.

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