250 Best Documentary Movies of All Time

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250 Best Documentary Movies of All Time

Documentary films are one of the most illuminating and realistic genres in cinema. This genre tells real-world stories, providing audiences with knowledge, creating awareness, and fostering a deeper understanding of the world. Documentary films often aim to document real individuals, places, and events, presenting facts and truths to the viewers.

One of the primary advantages of documentary films is their close relationship with reality. These films can cover a wide range of subjects, including natural life, historical events, scientific discoveries, cultural experiences, and more. Therefore, documentary films open a window for viewers to see the world up close.

Another significant feature of this genre is its ability to employ different perspectives and storytelling techniques. Documentary films, while addressing events and individuals, often aim to engage viewers by utilizing various viewpoints and creative narrative methods. This flexibility allows them to tackle all kinds of stories and subjects.

Documentary films are frequently used to address societal issues and environmental concerns. These films have the potential not only to inform the audience but also to create awareness about topics such as social change and sustainability. Such documentaries can inspire viewers to think and take action on global issues.

Additionally, documentary films are used to introduce and celebrate various cultures and lifestyles. They offer an insider’s view into the lives and experiences of people from different communities, allowing viewers to explore diversity worldwide.

In conclusion, documentary films are a powerful tool for those who want to see, learn, and understand the real world. Known for their ability to present real events and subjects creatively and effectively, this genre is a beacon of truth and knowledge. Documentary films provide an opportunity for viewers to create awareness, acquire knowledge, and develop a deeper understanding of the world. Therefore, they are recognized as one of the most illuminating and realistic genres in cinema.

Here are 250 of the best Documentary movies

Hoop Dreams (1994) – IMDb Rating: 8.3

Director: Steve James

Summary: Hoop Dreams follows the aspirations of two young African-American high school students who aim to become professional basketball players.



The Act of Killing (2012) – IMDb Rating: 8.2

Director: Joshua Oppenheimer

Summary: The Act of Killing is a chilling documentary that examines the 1965-1966 mass killings in Indonesia from the perspective of the killers who reenact their activities.



Man on Wire (2008) – IMDb Rating: 7.7

Director: James Marsh

Summary: Man on Wire recounts Philippe Petit’s daring 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.



Roger & Me (1989) – IMDb Rating: 7.4

Director: Michael Moore

Summary: Directed by Michael Moore, “Roger & Me” explores the impact of General Motors factory closures on the city of Flint, Michigan.



Grizzly Man (2005) – IMDb Rating: 7.8

Director: Werner Herzog

Summary: “Grizzly Man” tells the story of Timothy Treadwell, who lived among wild grizzly bears in Alaska.



The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003) – IMDb Rating: 8.1

Director: Errol Morris

Summary: “The Fog of War” is an interview-style documentary in which former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara reflects on his experiences during the Vietnam War and imparts lessons learned.



Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) – IMDb Rating: 7.5

Director: Michael Moore

Summary: Fahrenheit 9/11, directed by Michael Moore, critiques the Bush administration’s response to the 9/11 attacks.



Waltz with Bashir (2008) – IMDb Rating: 8.0

Director: Ari Folman

Summary: Waltz with Bashir is an animated documentary that explores the director’s efforts to reconstruct his memories of the 1982 Lebanon War.



The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007) – IMDb Rating: 8.1

Director: Seth Gordon

Summary: “The King of Kong” follows the competition between two men striving to achieve the highest score in the classic arcade game Donkey Kong.



Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010) – IMDb Rating: 8.0

Director: Banksy

Summary: “Exit Through the Gift Shop” delves into the world of street art and the mysterious artist Banksy, exploring the rise of street art as a mainstream phenomenon.



Searching for Sugar Man (2012) – IMDb Rating: 8.2

Director: Malik Bendjelloul

Summary: “Searching for Sugar Man” follows the quest to uncover the mysterious life of musician Sixto Rodriguez, who became a folk hero in South Africa, unaware of his fame.



Citizenfour (2014) – IMDb Rating: 8.0

Director: Laura Poitras

Summary: “Citizenfour” offers an inside look at Edward Snowden’s decision to leak classified documents, revealing widespread government surveillance programs.



Faces Places (2017) – IMDb Rating: 7.9

Directors: Agnès Varda, JR

Summary: “Faces Places” is a heartwarming journey across rural France as director Agnès Varda and photographer JR create art inspired by the people they meet.



Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018) – IMDb Rating: 8.4

Director: Morgan Neville

Summary: This documentary pays tribute to the life and legacy of beloved children’s television host Fred Rogers, exploring his impact on generations of viewers.



Free Solo” (2018) – IMDb Rating: 8.2

Directors: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

Summary: “Free Solo” documents climber Alex Honnold’s extraordinary quest to ascend El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without ropes, a feat considered one of the greatest achievements in rock climbing.



RBG (2018) – IMDb Rating: 7.5

Directors: Julie Cohen, Betsy West

Summary: “RBG” provides an intimate portrait of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her lifelong fight for gender equality and justice.



An Inconvenient Truth (2006) – IMDb Rating: 7.4

Director: Davis Guggenheim

Summary: Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” addresses the pressing issue of climate change, presenting scientific evidence and urging action to combat it.



Three Identical Strangers (2018) – IMDb Rating: 7.6

Director: Tim Wardle

Summary: “Three Identical Strangers” delves into the astonishing true story of triplets separated at birth who reunite by chance, uncovering a dark secret.



Apollo 11 (2019) – IMDb Rating: 8.2

Director: Todd Douglas Miller

Summary: “Apollo 11” offers a stunning, never-before-seen look at NASA’s historic mission to the moon in 1969, using newly discovered footage.



One Child Nation (2019) – IMDb Rating: 7.5

Directors: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang

Summary: “One Child Nation” explores China’s one-child policy and its far-reaching consequences on families, told through personal stories and interviews.



For Sama (2019) – IMDb Rating: 8.5

Summary: “For Sama” is a deeply personal documentary that tells the story of Waad Al-Kateab’s life during the Syrian civil war, focusing on her experiences as a mother.



American Factory (2019) – IMDb Rating: 7.5

Summary: This documentary explores the culture clash between American and Chinese workers when a Chinese company takes over a former GM plant in Ohio.



The Cave (2019) – IMDb Rating: 7.3

Summary: “The Cave” follows Dr. Amani Ballour, a pediatrician and the manager of an underground hospital in war-torn Syria, as she provides medical care to her community.



My Octopus Teacher (2020) – IMDb Rating: 8.1

Summary: A filmmaker develops an unlikely friendship with an octopus while diving in a South African kelp forest, leading to profound insights into the natural world.



Dick Johnson Is Dead (2020) – IMDb Rating: 7.6

Summary: Director Kirsten Johnson copes with her father’s dementia by imagining different ways he might die, blending humor and poignancy.



Crip Camp (2020) – IMDb Rating: 7.8

Summary: “Crip Camp” chronicles the disability rights movement in the United States, inspired by the experiences of those who attended Camp Jened.



Collective (2019) – IMDb Rating: 8.4

Summary: Investigative journalists in Romania expose corruption in the healthcare system following a tragic nightclub fire, leading to widespread protests.



Time (2020) – IMDb Rating: 7.4

Summary: “Time” offers an intimate look at one woman’s decades-long struggle to free her husband from a Louisiana state prison, highlighting the impact of mass incarceration on families.



The Social Dilemma (2020) – IMDb Rating: 7.6

Summary: Tech insiders reveal the manipulative tactics used by social media companies and their impact on society, raising concerns about privacy and addiction.



The Mole Agent (2020) – IMDb Rating: 7.7

Summary: In this heartwarming documentary, an elderly man is hired to investigate suspected neglect in a nursing home, leading to unexpected friendships.



Boys State (2020) – IMDb Rating: 7.4

Summary: “Boys State” follows a group of teenage boys as they participate in a week-long political simulation, offering insights into the complexities of American democracy.



Athlete A (2020) – IMDb Rating: 7.7

Summary: This documentary exposes the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal and the survivors’ fight for justice.



The Dissident (2020) – IMDb Rating: 7.8

Summary: “The Dissident” investigates the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the ongoing implications for Saudi Arabia’s political landscape.



MLK/FBI (2020) – IMDb Rating: 7.3

Summary: This documentary explores the FBI’s surveillance and harassment of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement.



76 Days (2020) – IMDb Rating: 7.2

Summary: “76 Days” provides an inside look at the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan, China, through the eyes of healthcare workers.



The Truffle Hunters (2020) – IMDb Rating: 7.5

Summary: A charming documentary that follows a group of elderly truffle hunters and their unique bond with their dogs in the forests of Italy.



My Octopus Teacher (2020) – IMDb Rating: 8.1

Summary: A filmmaker develops an unlikely friendship with an octopus while diving in a South African kelp forest, leading to profound insights into the natural world.



The Sparks Brothers (2021) – IMDb Rating: 7.7

Summary: “The Sparks Brothers” profiles the musical career of the enigmatic and influential band Sparks.



Summer of Soul (2021) – IMDb Rating: 7.4

Summary: This documentary unearths footage from the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, featuring legendary performances and insights into the cultural significance of the event.



Flee (2021) – IMDb Rating: 8.2

Summary: “Flee” combines animation and documentary to tell the story of a man’s journey as a child refugee from Afghanistan to Denmark.



Ascension (2021) – IMDb Rating: 6.7

Summary: “Ascension” explores the challenges faced by African astronauts on the journey to Mars, delving into the intersection of race and space exploration.



The Rescue (2021) – IMDb Rating: 8.0

Summary: “The Rescue” recounts the daring 2018 mission to save a youth soccer team trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand.



The Velvet Underground (2021) – IMDb Rating: 7.0

Summary: This documentary examines the influential rock band The Velvet Underground and their impact on music and culture.



Faya Dayi (2021) – IMDb Rating: 7.1

Summary: “Faya Dayi” explores the culture and history of Ethiopia, focusing on the impact of the drug khat on individuals and society.



The Crime of the Century (2021) – IMDb Rating: 8.1

Summary: This documentary sheds light on the opioid crisis in the United States, revealing the role of pharmaceutical companies and the devastating consequences.



The Lost Leonardo (2021) – IMDb Rating: 7.6

Summary: This documentary delves into the mystery and controversy surrounding the sale of the Salvator Mundi painting, believed to be the work of Leonardo da Vinci.



Val (2021) – IMDb Rating: 7.0

Summary: “Val” offers an intimate and personal look at the life and career of actor Val Kilmer through his own recordings.



Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (2021) – IMDb Rating: 7.5

Summary: This documentary features unseen footage from the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, showcasing iconic musical performances and cultural significance.



Crazy About Her (2021) – IMDb Rating: 6.2

Summary: “Crazy About Her” is a romantic comedy about a man who falls in love with a woman he meets in a psychiatric hospital.



Tick, Tick… Boom! (2021) – IMDb Rating: 6.9

Summary: “Tick, Tick… Boom!” is a musical drama that follows an aspiring composer navigating life and his artistic dreams in New York City.


Four Good Days (2020) – IMDb Rating: 6.6

Summary: This drama tells the story of a mother trying to help her daughter overcome opioid addiction over the course of four crucial days.



The Green Knight (2021) – IMDb Rating: 6.7

Summary: “The Green Knight” is a fantasy film based on the Arthurian legend, following Sir Gawain on a mystical quest.



The French Dispatch (2021) – IMDb Rating: 6.8

Summary: Directed by Wes Anderson, “The French Dispatch” is a quirky anthology film that explores the stories of journalists at a fictional French magazine.



Red Rocket (2021) – IMDb Rating: 7.1

Summary: “Red Rocket” is a dark comedy-drama about a washed-up porn star who returns to his small Texas hometown.




Blue Bayou (2021) – IMDb Rating: 6.6

Summary: “Blue Bayou” tells the story of a Korean-American adoptee facing deportation and fighting to keep his family together.



Happening (2021) – IMDb Rating: Not provided

Summary: “Happening” is a drama film, but the IMDb rating is not available at the moment.

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