Best Documentaries on Netflix in 2019: Netflix has become a home for documentaries. It has one of the affluent lists of documentaries which only increases the numbers of options for us to watch. Here is just another most liked Netflix documentaries that have gained popularity because of its content.
The real stories sometimes enthral more than the fictional ones can do. The list below is an example of best documentaries on Netflix providing insights that surely is going to leave you awe-struck and inspired by topics that evoke as many emotional responses as any great movie or TV show.
Best Documentaries on Netflix in 2019
Out of the enormous list of documentaries, this particular list was hard to choose. This list has got a wholesome selection of biopics, reveals, and real-life stories, that gives you chills leaving you perplexed with the stories wondering if it actually possible in real life. The philosophical brain blenders and startling scandals surely are going to sweep you off your feet and not in a flattering way.
1. Paris is Burning
“Paris is burning” is a movie based on the LGBTQ community. Filmed in 1991, this movie peruses the voguing and drag balls of the 80s in New York. It shows the world of drag queens and dances without fearing of what goes in and around with them. It doesn’t shy away from showcasing the guts and glamour of the drag queens. This is a well-made documentary which focuses on teaching about people involved in these subcultures whose circumstances weren’t as appealing.
2. Chasing Coral
Global Climate Change has become a hot topic, yet treated as if it isn’t happening or it is a talk for the future. The impact of climate change might seem negligible to the human eye, but the Corals in our oceans doesn’t feel the same. The makers of Chasing Corals wants to warn us about how the change in our environment is affecting our oceans, and the immediate effect seen with the disappearance of the coral reefs.
The documentary is based on how a crew of dedicated coral-nerds try to capture a “coral bleaching” event (mass death from overheated water), so they can start making the public pay attention to what’s going on beneath the ocean’s surface. There is some beautiful underwater photography, both still and moving, of corals, but the beauty of their existence is not the point to observe; however, taking action for the danger of their disappearance is.
3. Casting JonBenet (2017)
Casting JonBenet is a documentary based on the story of the death of a six-year-old pageant queen, JonBenet Ramsey. Her death was ruled homicide by the police with the murderer remaining unidentified. The director attempts to reenact JonBenet’s life in the movie and to do so she enlists actors from the area where the family lived. Throughout the film, these performers are forced to confront the reality of the Ramsey family’s situation which in turn helps viewers to take a look under the surface of the traumatic event.
4. Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)
This documentary highlights the unseen footage of Jim Carrey playing the character of his idol Andy Kaufman on the set of his 1999 film Man on the Moon. The movie, directed by Chris Smith, depicts Jim Carey’s flourishing method for his dramatic role as the brilliant on-stage comedian. The plenty of behind-the-scenes drama grabs the attention of viewers which includes Carrey’s backstage antics while shooting the movie. The most exciting part about the film is watching the actor’s thorough process and his approach towards his brilliant career.
5. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
The movie, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is based on one of the greatest masters of the culinary world. The real focus in the film is on Jiro’s effortless culinary perfection at the age of 85. The story also delivers the chef’s relationship with his two sons with the youngest who starts his own restaurant, and the oldest, at the age of 50, who continue to work with his father, training to one day take over Jiro’s infamous restaurant. Jiro Dreams of Sushi excludes all the typical conflicts of a family and portrays a beautifully filmed documentary about three men who have dedicated their lives to the chase perfection.
6. Wild Wild Country (2018)
Maclain Way and Chapman Way showed one of the biggest stories in America as they tried to explain how Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh convinced thousands of people to follow him. A four-part series, Wild, Wild Country tells the story of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, widely recognized as Osho, an Indian cult leader who moves to Oregon from Pune, India. He conveys parts of his pastoral lifestyle to willing followers, but his leadership quickly fell into anarchy after conflicts with the locals leading to a bio-terror attack. The documentary also shares interviews of the former cult member with footage from the 70s.
7. Evil Genius
Evil Genius is one of the true crime documentaries we can’t get help but get curious of as the filmmakers keep digging up real, bizarre events. It follows the events after the death of Brian Wells, a pizza man with a bomb around his neck. As the trace of the real culprit seems to go on, it becomes more indisputable that the story isn’t as simple as it looked earlier. There were a few suspects that were named, but the case couldn’t meet its end. But you can’t help but grit your teeth in anxiety throughout the movie.
8. Best of Enemies (2015)
This documentary is based on the opposing ideologies of Gore Vidal and William Buckley. Both were authors and commentators, who clashed now and then during the 1968 presidential race.
The makers of this documentary have used the archival footage, decades before broadcasted debates were commonplace. The film documents their frequent disagreements and inability to listen to the other.
If you want to get a masterclass for free of how to weaken your opponent and control your inner passive-aggressive side, then this documentary is for you.
9. Making a Murderer (2016)
The documentary Making a Murderer revolves around a man named, Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who served 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Two years after his exoneration he is found guilty of another murder. This is one of the best documentaries on Netflix, and its popularity doesn’t say otherwise. The murder trial episodes if filled with tension, as his defence team argues that the Manitowoc police department framed him with backed up evidence.
10. The Keepers
This seven-episode Netflix series scratches the true crime itch created by Making a Murderer. It starts with the 1969 unsolved murder of nun and school teacher Cathy Cesnik, but it soon links this to accusations against priests at the school, and spreads to uncover a web of mystery and deceit way beyond just one person.
The documentary speaks to those who knew Cesnik best, including former students and those still searching for the truth about what happened to her and why. Suspicion points in several directions throughout the documentary as it slowly unpicks decades of silence, bureaucratic obfuscation and criminal collusion. It’s gripping and essential viewing.
11. Icarus (2017)
Bryan Fogel’s Academy Award-winning documentary Icarus wasn’t supposed to involve Russians and doping scandal and cover-ups. Fortunately for Fogel, when the filmmaker decided to test his mettle by competing in one of the toughest cycling competitions in the world and chose to dope to help his chances, he ended up meeting Russian scientist, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the director of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory. The result is this nearly 90-minute film that chronicles Russia’s extensive history with doping and Rodchenkov’s fight for his life after he blows the whistle on the country’s bad practices.
12. Amanda Knox (2016)
It seems as though we’re all now more aware than ever of how utterly screwed any of us can be in an instant if the system places us in its crosshairs for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and not behaving in a way perceived to be “normal” in the immediate aftermath.
Recent true crime documentaries like The Staircase, Making a Murderer and Serial have certainly played a part in illuminating this frightening and unfortunate slice of reality. We can now add Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn’s Amanda Knox to that list. Prepare to be terrified and infuriated as the filmmakers detail how an overzealous Italian prosecutor and a global tabloid press thirsty for a sensational story joined forces to wreck a young woman’s life, largely for their own benefit.
As Daily Mailjournalist Nick Pisa freely admits on camera — without any trace of remorse or shame — about his work covering the case, “A murder always gets people going… And we have here this beautiful, picturesque hilltop town in the middle of Italy. It was a particularly gruesome murder; throat slit, semi-naked, blood everywhere. I mean, what more do you want in a story?”
13. 13th (2016)
Director Ava DuVernay has successfully made a documentary that challenges and even dismantles our collective understanding of one of the most dangerous notions of our time: “progress.” How do we define progress, and who precisely gets to define it?
13th is a captivating argument against those who measure progress with laws that pretend to protect American citizens and amendments, and even to uphold the Constitution. It is a deftly woven and defiant look at how clauses within those amendments (specifically the lauded 13th) and the language of our political system both veil and reveal a profound and devastating truth about America: Slavery was never abolished here, DuVernay and the participants in the film argue. It was simply amended, and it continues to be amended in 2016, with the constant evolution of the criminal justice system.
It’s a bold and terrifying statement to make, but in using a documentary instead of, say, a narrative film, DuVernay is able to point directly to that history and to those people who have defined “progress” for black Americans. In doing so, she draws a line directly from the 13th amendment, to today’s America, which has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. —Shannon M. Houston
14. Pumping Iron (1977)
Behold arrogance anthropomorphized: A 28-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger, competing for his sixth Mr. Olympia title, effortlessly waxes poetic about his overall excellence, his litanies regarding the similarities between orgasming and lifting weights merely fodder between bouts of pumping the titular iron and/or flirting with women he can roll up into his biceps like little flesh burritos.
He is both the epitome of the human form and almost tragically inhuman, so corporeally perfect that his physique seems unattainable, his status as a weightlifting wunderkind one of a kind. And yet, in the other corner, a young, nervous Lou Ferrigno primes his equally large body to usurp Arnold’s title, but without the magnanimous bluster and dick-wagging swagger the soon-to-be Hollywood icon makes no attempt to hide.
Schwarzenegger understands that weightlifting is a mind game (like in any sport), buttressed best by a healthy sense of vanity and privilege, and directors Fiore and Butler mine Arnold’s past enough to divine where he inherited such self-absorption. Contrast this attitude against Ferrigno’s almost morbid shyness, and Pumping Iron becomes a fascinating glimpse at the kind of sociopathy required of living gods. —Dom Sinacola
15. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)
Mankind’s desire to create stretches back a long way which is what makes Werner Herzog’s documentary so fascinating. The motivation of humans, and our innate need to express ourselves, can be traced back 32,000 years ago through a series of paintings in the Chauvet caves of France. The site is protected by authorities, who guard the world’s oldest surviving paintings in the hopes of preserving them, and learning more about where we came from.
Herzog’s central idea, really, which posits that through the analysis of those pieces,we might discover the truth behind our distant ancestors’ hopes and dreams.
16. What happened, Miss Simone?
Liz Garbus’s What Happened, Miss Simone? probably errs too far towards a thesis that Nina Simone’s mental health was the cause of her genius, rather than a factor that complicated it. But what saves the film, and what makes it engaging, is that I’m not sure Garbus wholly believes that thesis, because many moments in the film betray it. So even though there are times where Garbus elides aspects of Simone’s life and career to represent her decline as inevitable and linear (and even though she problematically chooses to use interviews with Simone’s abusive ex-husband to narrate Simone’s life), the parts of the film where Simone is allowed to speak for herself—from her diary, from interviews, while performing onstage—are utterly compelling.
They portray an artist in the late-1960s at the height of her powers and skill, in complete control of her piano and her voice, and brashly embracing radical politics and Black Power in a way that most contemporary popular musicians were far too scared to do. Sure they also portray an artist who was clearly struggling with fame, responsibility, politics, anger, and self-worth—but, especially in performance, the sheer scope of Simone’s technical skill and artistic sensibilities often escape the imposed rise-and-fall narrative.
The footage from late in Simone’s career provides evidence of her insane musical skill: her reinterpretation of early hit “My Baby Just Cares for Me” over a piano arrangement that sounds like one of Bach’s Inventions is astounding in about 30 different ways at once. Though I can only recommend this film with the caveat that it feels overly storyboarded to exploit a tired old idea of the tortured artist in order to answer its titular question—as in, “Q. What happened?; A. The very qualities that made her great also haunted her”—the concert footage alone makes this documentary worth digging into. —Mark Abraham
17. The Bleeding Edge (2018)
Healthcare. Anyone who’s been shocked to hear their pharmacist utter the words “that’ll be $800, please” for a 30-day prescription knows this is a lucrative industry. That’s what make The Bleeding Edge such a succulent topic for a documentary, as delves into one another medical avenue, the $400 BILLION DOLLAR medical device industry. You heard. Exploring five devices and the havoc they’ve caused patients, this is jaw-dropping – and very necessary – viewing.
Whether you live in a country with free healthcare or not, the sheer gall of some companies in rushing out products prior to being thoroughly vetted is astonishing. Which, of course, makes for compelling viewing.
18. The Staircase (2018)
In 2001, a 911 operator receives a call from a distraught husband after discovering his wife’s body at the bottom of the stairs. That individual is author Michael Peterson, who becomes the subject of a documentary that unfurls over the course of a decade. Did Kathleen Peterson really fall? Or was she the victim of domestic violence? The French film-making crew who tackle the case began rolling immediately after Michael’s indictment, and are given free rein of the entire Peterson family, which in itself, is surrounded by as many bizarre twists as the murder case.
So you can enjoy spiraling into the vast array of fan theories afterward! This is a compelling true crime series much like Making a Murderer. Unlike that series, The Staircase has a huge biased edge: as the doc was filmed intermittently over the course of a decade, the editor of the documentary grew close to Peterson and ended up dating him. Seriously, get this watched.
19. Blackfish (2013)
The film that turned the tide of public opinion on Sea World and convinced Pixar to change the ending of Finding Dory, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s animal rights muckraker is more than just 83 minutes of theme park shaming. In telling the story of Tillikum, the psychologically damaged orca who spent his life in captivity and was involved in the deaths of three people, the movie is an elegy for the freedoms that marine creatures like him were once able to enjoy. Is there an ethical way to view creatures like Tillikum up close and personal, and if so, should we trust a private company to deliver it to us?
20. Lo and Behold
Werner Herzog takes on the Internet. Far more cheerful and quirky than it would initially seem, the German film-makers sets out to examine the technology which has shaped our lives since its inception, tracing its early history to modern subcultures. On the way, he meets a cast of characters, from rural farmers to college students to scientists, and takes a thoughtful look at how the Internet has changed their lives, for good or for worse. He continually asks, “Does the Internet dream of itself?” While the broad topic of the Internet could be incredibly dry, in Herzog’s capable hands, it takes on a new life.
This list is one of the most liked Netflix Documentaries. If you have some more to the list, add in the comments below.