What Are Your Favorite Documentaries?

I recently got Netflix and I love it. There are so many great documentaries out there that defy categorization, and I have learned so much watching them. Last night I watched a brilliant one: Bones Brigade, about skateboarding. If you are at all interested in business, cultural phenomena, sports and mastery, teenage boys and what they do to survive, teamwork, coaching and holding a group together, facing adversity a…

  1. Lord Humungus

    I’ve always been fascinated by “Idiocracy”.

  2. Chris Campion

    1.  King Corn:  2 guys plant an acre of corn in Iowa and find out a hell of a lot they didn’t know about subsidies, how much corn is part of the food stream, etc.  Great stuff.

    http://www.kingcorn.net/the-film/synopsis/

    2.  Dogtown and Z-Boys:  Piece on the birth of the skateboard culture in the 1970′s. 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogtown_and_Z-Boys

    3.  Restrepo:  Documentary on the Afghanistan war, told at the platoon level.  Well worth a look to get a feel for what it must have been like to be deployed there.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restrepo_%28film%29

    Just a few off the top of my head.  If you’re really strapped for time, pull any of the National Geographic documentaries off Netflix.  I tend to inhale the WW2-era documentaries with a very large straw.  Well worth the time.

  3. Instugator

    JoALT and I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It was pretty good, although I don’t go much into documentaries.

  4. Douglas

    I used to like A&E’s Mysteries of the Bible series a lot. The Discovery Channel had a pretty good series of mini-docs on outlaws of the old west that was done pretty well, too

  5. Franco
    Central Scrutinizer: I’ve always been fascinated by “Idiocracy”. · 1 hour ago

    One of my favorite movies.  But technically, it’s not a doc, thank God!

  6. I used to love documentaries but have become a skeptic because of all the pseudo-science and think many of them merely propaganda. People see a documentary and think it’s gospel. For instance there is an interesting one about what has happened to our honey bees. The science, or studies, seems to be pretty thorough and correct however all the blame goes to ‘big agriculture’ and ‘mono-culture’ and makes me suspicious. A couple of friends jumped right on it, and I reminded them to be cautious however they are sold- from one documentary.

  7. Swanning in the Beltway

    First World War (2003) was a great one on WWI, they even got New Zealand actors for the NZ bits rather than having some Aussie do it.

  8. Caroline

    I like the Secrets of the Dead series that was on PBS. There are a handful of episodes on Netflix.  

  9. Basil Fawlty

    Fred Wiseman’s institutional documentaries (e.g., High School, Basic Training, Welfare) always fascinated me. 

  10. Franco
    PracticalMary: I used to love documentaries but have become a skeptic because of all the pseudo-science and think many of them merely propaganda. People see a documentary and think it’s gospel. For instance there is an interesting one about what has happened to our honey bees. The science, or studies, seems to be pretty thorough and correct however all the blame goes to ‘big agriculture’ and ‘mono-culture’ and makes me suspicious. A couple of friends jumped right on it, and I reminded them to be cautious however they are sold- from one documentary. · 4 minutes ago

    I agree, they can be used as a vehicle for propaganda (see Michael Moore and Al Gore) I avoid those kinds of documentaries too. It’s usually  clear  when a doc is one-sided and has an agenda. There is a difference too between a point of view, common in most documentaries – and an agenda.

    Two more great documentaries: Magic vs. Bird – you don’t need to like or know pro basketball to enjoy this amazing film

    Thrilla in Manilla – this one is an epic documentary that touches on a myriad of angles. Don’t need to be a boxing fan 

  11. Misthiocracy

    FEATURE LENGTH:

    Street Fight – About Cory Booker’s first (failed) campaign to become the mayor of Newark

    Murderball – About the awesome sport of Wheelchair Rugby.

    Freakonomics – Inspired by the book of the same name.

    The Aristocrats – About the filthiest joke ever conceived by man.

    Joy Division – About the band of the same name.

    Michael Moore Hates America – An expose about Moore, but with a difference. The guy who made the film gets his own light shone back on him, and he learns a lesson about the hidden pitfalls of documentary filmmaking.

    TELEVISION

    The Ascent of Money – Niall Ferguson teaches economic history.

    A History of Celtic Britain – From the Bronze Age to the Romans

    A History of Scotland – From the Picts to the 21st Century

    An Idiot Abroad – Travel the world with a simpleton that hates travel.

    Connections – About the interconnectedness of scientific history.

    Free To Choose – Milton Friedman’s masterpiece.

    Genius of Britain – About the history of British science.

  12. Olive

    I liked Expelled.

  13. Chris Campion

    Murderball rocks.

  14. Franco
    Chris Campion: Murderball rocks. · 0 minutes ago

    Murderball looks great! I’ll definitely watch that!

    Saw Grizzly Man – very good and interesting.

    Caroline: I like the Secrets of the Dead series that was on PBS. There are a handful of episodes on Netflix.   · 1 hour ago

    Did you see this episode? Japanese Super Sub? The captain of the the supersub, named Arizumi, was mentioned several times in the documentary, captured my father and interrogated him in 1943. Arizumi committed the most heinous maritime atrocity of WWII.  Sinking the S.S Jean Nicolet and killing survivors (most) in cold blood. My father had a Liberty Ship named after him and testified at War Crimes Trials in Japan after the war.

  15. RightinChicago

    “The Kid Stays in the Picture” is superb. It’s about the life of movie producer Robert Evans. Great photos, narration and music. Evans stumbled into Hollywood, literally discovered at a pool. He went on to produce some great films. Must see.

  16. Franco
    RightinChicago: “The Kid Stays in the Picture” is superb. It’s about the life of movie producer Robert Evans. Great photos, narration and music. Evans stumbled into Hollywood, literally discovered at a pool. He went on to produce some great films. Must see. · 4 minutes ago

    I second that! I had forgotten. It was magnificent and very enlightening about so many things. A great documentary!

  17. Lord Humungus
    Franco

    Central Scrutinizer: I’ve always been fascinated by “Idiocracy”. · 1 hour ago

    One of my favorite movies.  But technically, it’s not a doc, thank God! · 1 hour ago

    Time will tell. But since you insist on purity, I’ll go with “Buck”.

  18. Franco
    Central Scrutinizer

    Franco

    Central Scrutinizer: I’ve always been fascinated by “Idiocracy”. · 1 hour ago

    One of my favorite movies.  But technically, it’s not a doc, thank God! · 1 hour ago

    Time will tell. But since you insist on purity, I’ll go with “Buck”. · 0 minutes ago

    Time will tell indeed! I always thought one major flaw was that it was set so far in the future. It looks like a couple of decades to me. 

  19. Lord Humungus
    Franco

    Central Scrutinizer

    Franco

    Central Scrutinizer: I’ve always been fascinated by “Idiocracy”. · 1 hour ago

    One of my favorite movies.  But technically, it’s not a doc, thank God! · 1 hour ago

    Time will tell. But since you insist on purity, I’ll go with “Buck”. · 0 minutes ago

    Time will tell indeed! I always thought one major flaw was that it was set so far in the future. It looks like a couple of decades to me.  · 5 minutes ago

    I can’t think of a single thing in that movie (Idiocracy) that isn’t bound to happen.

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