The Best Documentaries on Netflix

Let's be real.

Documentaries connect us all. When it comes to documentaries, the element most viewers tend to gravitate toward is the real-life nature of what people glean from historical footage, photographs, talking avatars, pre-recorded audio, a series of physical tours, or simple day-to-day tasks to these elements. Even when you're watching clearly biased content, there's an undeniable sense of authenticity. Even where the film's overall focus is narrowed to fit a preconceived narrative, there's an unmistakable sense of intimacy that makes the filmmaker's brain flash quickly. By using footage of the real world in various forms, great documentaries use images of ubiquitous, familiar beings to convey something deeply personal, even intimate. With the recent explosion of the "documentary series" format, we have the ability to delve deeper into stories than ever before.

Netflix has a huge library of great documentaries covering topics ranging from true crime to sports and even filmmaking. Below, we've put together a list of what we think are the best documentaries streaming on Netflix right now. For more recommendations, check out our lists of the best movies on Netflix or the best documentaries on Hulu and Prime Video.

Editor's note: This article was updated February 2023 to include Stutz.

Stutz (2022)

Runtime: 1 hour 36 minutes | Director: Jonah Hill

Cast: Jonah Hill, Phil Stutz

Stutz is a deeply personal documentary that focuses on Jonah Hill (21 Jump Street), who also directed the film. In Stutz, the Academy Award nominee sits down with his own therapist, Dr. Phil Stutz, a renowned psychiatrist, for a candid discussion about the intimate mental health issues actors deal with, and what he thinks about the mental health industry as a whole . By embracing Stutz's history and giving viewers a vulnerable perspective on Hill's struggles, Stutz presents viewers with life lessons, potentially useful tools, and, ideally, a chance to get better. A unique and truly moving film, Stutz shares a glimpse behind the scenes of therapy, ideally alleviating the stigma. – Yael Tygiel

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Sr. (2022)

Runtime: 1 hour 29 minutes | Director: Chris Smith

Cast: Robert Downey Sr., Robert Downey Jr., Alan Arkin, Norman Lear, Sean Hayes. Son make Robert Downey Jr. (Avengers: Endgame), assisted by director Chris Smith, explores the progressive director's unfettered career. Through the eyes of a bold son, Sr. is often touching without hiding the harsher realities, making friends like Alan Arkin (The Kominsky Method) and Norman Lear (One Day at a Time) Share with colleagues a genuine, sometimes indecent homage to the visionary who ushered in the comedic counterculture of the '60s and '70s. – Yael Tygiel

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Runtime: 1 hour 41 minutes | Directors: Macon Baird, Lisa Bryant

Ghislaine Maxwell: Filthy Rich (2022)

Ghislaine Maxwell: Dirty Rich Reveal Ghislaine Maxwell The truth behind the heinous crimes committed, Ghislaine Maxwell was Jeffrey Epstein's confidante and accomplice who is only now facing criminal charges for her involvement in his years-long abuse. Directors Maiken Baird and Lisa Bryant interview Epstein's victims and focus on archival footage of Maxwell, Epstein, and other powerful figures to explore the extent of Maxwell's involvement in trafficking young women. Ghislaine Maxwell: Filthy Rich spent almost two hours developing the case against the woman at the center of these tragedies, revealing her to be a monster. – Yael Tygiel

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Runtime: 1 hour 37 minutes | Director: Tom Donahue^ Unfortunately, sexism in Hollywood is a relevant topic, and this changes everything - a co-production with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media , the group recently featured at the 2022 Emmy Awards. Starring many of the industry's favorite actresses and filmmakers, including Jessica Chastain, Sandra Oh, Reese Witherspoon and Sanda Rhimes, the film is a powerful and important look at gender difference and how we can change it. exploration. – Taylor Gates

This Changes Everything (2018)

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Runtime: 1 hour 28 minutes | Director: Josh Crowley

As one of the most influential country singers of all time, Shania Twain's influence on music is undeniable. While there's a good chance you know at least a few of Twain's songs—"That's Not Impressing Me Too Much," "From This Moment" and "Dude! I Feel Like a Woman!" A sliver of a long list of hits—you might not know how many hurdles she had to hit before she made it. From the sexism she encountered as a woman in the industry to the tragic death of her parents, the ugly divorce to Things don't always go smoothly when it comes to Lyme disease. Yet Twain never gave up, making this documentary a riveting and inspiring story that reflects both her challenging, trailblazing past and her bright future. – Taylor Gates

Shania Twain: Not Just a Girl

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Runtime: 1 hour 12 minutes | Directors: Nicola Marsh, Giovanni Reda

Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story is an unexpected journey that follows Leo Baker's ascent to the top of professional skateboarding's elite It's an often overlooked sport. Directors Nicola Marsh and Giovanni Reda explore the competitive nature of skateboarding culture, which evolved from neighborhood skate parks to the world stage and quickly became an exclusive inner circle. Through this documentary, Marsh and Reda allow Leo Baker to reveal how his skills took him to the top, blazing a path for others while building an inclusive space for the LGBTQ+ community. – Yael Tygiel

Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story (2022)

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Runtime: 1 hour 28 minutes | Director: Alison Klayman

Get an inside look at the peak trends of the late '90s and early '80s with White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie and Fitch, a prolific documentary exploring the roller-coaster ride of stores in American culture. White Hot, directed by Alison Klayman (Predator), lifts the veil on an all-American brand built on the exclusion of race, class and pretty much anything else. White Hot examines the pop culture phenomenon, dissecting every decision the brand made before it all fell apart. White Hot is a fast-paced, detailed documentary that will appeal to every millennial mall fanatic, whether they're wearing the brand or not. – Yael Tygiel

White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie and Fitch (2022)

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Runtime: 1 hour 37 minutes | Director: Lucie Jordan

Shocking, creepy, and - sometimes - just weird, Our Father is a film that proves sometimes truth is better than fiction Bizarre documentary. The film exposes former Indianapolis fertility doctor Donald Cline, who impregnated dozens of patients with his own sperm — all without their knowledge that he was doing so. There are plenty of jaw-dropping moments as we watch a woman's at-home DNA test spiral into something bigger and more sinister than anyone could have imagined. - Taylor Gates

Our Father (2022)

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Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes |Director: Edgar Wright ^Sparks are your favorite band among your favorite bands, but they've pretty much always flown under the radar in their 50 years of making music, which includes 25 albums. Director Edgar Wright hopes to make up for that with the excellent Sparks Brothers, a look at the entire history of the pop-rock duo of Ron and Russell Meyer. Unlike other music documentaries that attempt to examine the personal lives of their subjects, Wright focuses entirely on the music (two and a half hours, not much room for anything else, given the band's vast discography), and The upshot is that by the end of the movie, you'll love Sparks as much as he does. This is the gift of music appreciation. – Matt Goldberg

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The Sparks Brothers (2021)

Runtime: 1 hour 26 minutes | Director: Guillermo de Oliveira

For those who consider themselves fans of The Good and the Bad, this movie is a must-see, but it Also a great reflection on what it means to be a fan and how we can pay tribute to the art that shapes our lives. Sergio Leone's Groundbreaking Orgasm Westerns take place at Sad Hill Cemetery, but over the years the cemetery has grown overgrown and bears no resemblance to the climactic scene. A group of fans has taken on the task of restoring the cemetery to its former glory, creating what can only be described as a labor of love in the process. While there are other documentaries that focus on fandom, this one, which is really based on a scene from a movie (rather than the entire Do Not trilogy), shows how much a piece of art can have an impact on our lives. – Matt Goldberg

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Sad Hill Unearthed (2017)

Runtime: 2 hours 22 minutes | Director: Martin Scorsese

Bob Dylan as an artist always walks the line between fiction and non-fiction with his characters It is this line that Martin Scorsese explored in his documentary Thunderbolt, documenting Dylan's 1975 concert tour. In Rolling Thunder, Scorsese blends fact and fiction, leaving the audience to try to decipher what is real and what is fabricated. However, amidst all these concerts playing with the audience, there is also fantastic concert footage of Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez and many others At times on this tour it felt more like a circus than a concert. As Scorsese has shown in his other music documentaries, he knows how to take a deep dive into what makes an artist so captivating and turn it into a brilliant film. - Ross Bonaime

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Rolling Thunder Revue (2019)

Runtime: 1 hour 29 minutes | Director: Barry Avrich

Suppose you are a wealthy art collector. You know the famous names, but can you spot the fake ones? Probably not, but that's why you leave it to the dealer and gallery to verify the authenticity of the painting. But what happens when galleries may voluntarily participate in fraud? This is what makes you look: a true story about fake art, in which the largest art fraud in history was perpetrated through the famous and reputable Knoedler & Company. The question becomes how much do those hired by Knoedler know—are they being scammed like their clients, or are they willing to turn a blind eye because they are complicit in a lucrative scheme? Director Barry Avrich walks us through this riveting con-documentary that's low-stakes Spectators (we're not rich art collectors or dealers, after all) and high-stakes participants. - Matt Goldberg

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Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art (2020)

Runtime: 1 hr 40 min | Director: Kirby Dick

While you might want the latest tech when buying a new phone or video game console, you should be more cautious when putting it inside your body. In their 2018 documentary, writer-director Kirby Dick and producers Amy Ziering and Amy Hedy examine the medical device industry and discover (shockingly) that capitalism has inserted its tentacles into the FDA, a regulator that should Overseeing doctors implanting devices into patients. With plenty of personal stories and stepping back to explore bigger issues, The Bleeding Edge will change the way you interact with your doctor the next time you need some sort of invasive procedure. While it would be wrong to place that burden on patients, at least this documentary will equip you with the knowledge you need to avoid some dire consequences. - Matt Goldberg

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The Bleeding Edge (2018)

Runtime: 1 hour 32 minutes | Director: Joshua Rofé

The first thing to know about the Bob Ross documentary on Netflix is ​​that it doesn't reveal that the beloved character is a bad guy. But it does shed light on the uncomfortable truth behind Bob Ross Inc.'s business, especially what happened after Ross' untimely death. Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed interviews Ross' son and best friend, as well as others who knew him, documents how he became a pop culture icon by accident, and covers his philosophy on drawing. It also touches on his personal life, showing us the man behind the canvas. But the gist of the film is to exploit Ross's business dealings, and the aftermath of his death. It's an engrossing film, especially at only 90 minutes. - Adam Chitwood

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Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed (2021)

Runtime: 1 hour 23 minutes | Directors: Keith Scholey, Jonathan Hughes, Alastair Fothergill

David Attenborough is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in conservation. The British natural historian and author is almost a household name for his extensive Making natural history documentaries with his signature narrative style. He is so respected both by the public and by the scientific community that more than 20 species have been named after him. In David Attenborough: Life on Our Planet, he recounts his long career and reflects on how much the planet has changed in the more than 90 years of his life. Mixing footage from his previous work, Attenborough described the documentary as his "witness statement."

He also presents what he believes will be the end result if humans continue to abuse nature as they do now. Without going into too much detail, it involves the disappearance of entire ecosystems and drastic changes in climate, all of which culminate in a mass extinction event. But Attenborough also suggests that this future is avoidable, detailing the steps we need to take to reverse the damage we've done to the natural world. It's a sobering documentary that offers both hope and criticism. Whether you are interested in ecological issues or not, this documentary is an educational experience everyone should have. – Remus Noronha

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (2020)

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Runtime: 1 hour 30 minutes | Director: Sam Hobkinson

Would you question someone who claims to be a Holocaust survivor, even if their story is completely absurd? That's the question at the heart of Sam Hobkinson's fascinating documentary Misha and the Wolves. The film follows a woman named Mischa DeFonseca who, at the age of seven, flees to Germany in search of her missing parents after claiming her parents were arrested by the Nazis, joining the wolf pack along the way. The memoir became A worldwide bestseller, but its credibility became the focus of a lawsuit between Misha and her publisher Jane Daniels. The bigger quest here isn't just a tale that's stranger than fiction, but why we seek uplifting stories at the expense of harsh realities that may not comfort us. – Matt Goldberg

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Misha and the Wolves (2021)

Runtime: 1 hour 12 minutes | Directors: Andres Clariond and Grabriel Nuncio

This documentary may have limited reach, but if you've seen Alfonso Cuarón (Alfonso Cuaron)'s Oscar-winning Netflix series Roma, Road to Roma would be a great addition to watch. This feature-length documentary goes behind the scenes Cuaron makes his most personal film to date, recalling his own memories to create an epic and intimate drama set in Mexico City. It's great for movie buffs. – Adam Chitwood

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Road to Roma (2020)

Runtime: 1 hour 40 minutes | Director: Chris Moukarbel

If you want a celebrity documentary that goes deeper than the surface, Gaga: Five Foot Two is a solid watch. Released in 2017, the film follows Lady Gaga's life during the creation and release of her album Joanne, which coincides with the birth of her star in director/star Bradley Cooper and the end of her engagement to Taylor Kinney. The movie is pretty intimate because Gaga is also battling fibromyalgia, and you get to see her life as she juggles so many things at once, culminating in a Super Bowl halftime show.

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Gaga: Five Foot Two (2017)

Runtime: 1 hour 43 minutes | Directors: Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk

If you're curious about USA Gymnastics, Athlete A is a must-see. Documentary documents reporter's investigation into team doctor Larry Nassar's sexual abuse of teenage girls Should help, and by interviewing not only journalists but survivors of Nassar's abuse. That would make Athlete A worthwhile in itself, but the film also delves into the history of the USA Gymnastics program, and how established power structures not only protect abusers, but also create an environment for repeated abuse—whether verbal or not. Or verbally and physically -- it's part of the training for these young girls. It's an eye-opening documentary that will make you look at USA Gymnastics differently -- especially with the Olympics right around the corner. – Adam Chitwood

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Athlete A (2020)

Runtime: 2 hours 40 minutes | Directors: Jared Hess, Tyler Measom

The three-part docuseries, Mormon Murder, is one of the best Netflix originals currently streaming. In less than three hours, the film documents the discovery of a series of historical documents that could have toppled the Church of All Saints in Latterge, but key figures were killed in the bombing. It's been a journey full of twists and turns, so I won't go on and on, but the film uses today's interviews and archival footage to tell it Tell the story in an engaging way without feeling exploitative. Know as little as possible, but if you're interested in historical documents and the idea of ​​the Mormon Church, you'll find this fascinating from start to finish. – Adam Chitwood

^ Watch on Netflix

Murder Among the Mormons (2021)

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