Netflix is a treasure trove for connoisseurs of cinema. But not only does it offer plenty of world cinema from different genres but it also allows one to expand the horizons of the mind by perusing through a variety of documentaries.
We’ve compiled a list of 20 documentaries that are counted as the best among those offered by the streaming giant.
Check them out below!
1. Amanda Knox (2016)
This Netflix production tells the story of Amanda Knox, the American exchange student who was arrested for the murder of her roommate in Italy. Among other things, it dives into the role that media sensationalism played in the case.
2. Audrie & Daisy (2016)
For a gut-wrenching but important watch about consent and bullying in the digital age, this doc tells the story of two girls who were raped by “friends” and then humiliated for it on social media.
3. Best of Enemies: Buckley vs. Vidal (2015)
While recounting the 1968 rivalry between political intellectuals Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. might sound like anything but fascinating, I recommend it for the sheer depth of debate that takes place — and proof that, well, politics have always been polarizing.
4. Betting on Zero (2017)
Is the nutritional product company Herbalife for real, or a really intricate scam? Well, it’s complicated…
5. Call Me Lucky (2015)
This doc tells the story of Barry Crimmins, a comedian with a terrible past who begins the film by announcing that he only has two things left to do in order to consider his life complete: overthrowing the United States government and closing down the Catholic church.
6. Chef’s Table (2015–2017)
This docuseries dedicates each episode to profiling a world-famous chef — think Massimo Bottura, Niki Nakayama, and Gaggan Anand. Plus, it’s basically extremely classy food porn.
7. Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (2014)
Starring everyone’s fav. astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, this is the documentary that will actually help you understand everything ~out there~, without getting overwhelmed.
8. Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee (2016)
Of the McAfee antivirus software fame, this is a bizarre tech tycoon profile with a murder allegation and jungle-living thrown in for good measure.
9. Hip-Hop Evolution (2016)
This is basically The Get Down, but in documentary form covering everything from the the birth of hip-hop to the rise of gangsta rap.
10. Holy Hell (2016)
A spooky telling of what happens when one Californian decides to leave his cult.
11. Hot Girls Wanted (2015)
A tough, heartbreaking dive into the “amateur” porn industry that showcases the perspectives of the young women who don’t get famous.
12. Last Chance U (2017)
Over two seasons, this docuseries follows football players from East Mississippi Community College, a huge university in a very small town that attracts players who couldn’t play anywhere else but still dream of getting into the NFL.
13. Making a Murderer (2015)
This series follows the story of Steven Avery, a man who spent 18 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. After being released in 2003, he was once again accused of murder in 2007. It’s a deep, detailed dive into both cases that’ll leave you thinking about what really constitutes “justice.”
14. Planet Earth (2006)
The GOAT of nature documentaries that’ll have you wondering how the fuck did they get this on camera the whole time.
15. Pumping Iron (1977)
This oldie but goodie covers the modern bodybuilding movement via the story of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger.
16. She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry (2014)
An incredible primer on second-wave feminism in the US during the sixties that’ll leave you feeling way more informed about the movement’s evolution to the feminism we know today.
17. The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young (2014)
In its 25-year history, only ten people have finished the ultramarathon known as the Barkley Marathons. This doc dives into how it got started, what the rules are, and most importantly, why on Earth people put themselves through it.
18. Cartel Land (2015)
This documentary looks into the war on drugs and how it has influenced those living on the border between Mexico and the US. On the Mexican side, we follow a doctor leading some kind of citizen militia in order to fight the cartels. On the American side, we follow a retired soldier who leads a paramilitary group on border watch.
19. Valley Uprising (2014)
This gem of a doc follows the many generations of hikers who go to Yosemite to face off with the ultimate climb on “The Captain.” Fun fact: You’ve seen this mountain before on your MacBook’s wallpaper.
20. What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)
Archival footage and never-before-heard recordings combine in a mesmerizing retelling of the legendary singer and activist’s early life.
So, what are your favorite documentaries on Netflix?
Share with us in the comments below!