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The 14 best documentaries on Netflix
Netflix has hit it out of the park with a trove of quality documentaries ready to stream now.
If you’re after some guilt-free edutainment to wash away the shame from your ritual Married At First Sight viewing, you can’t really go past Netflix these days. There are sobering documentaries like The White Helmets or the heartbreaking biography Amy. If they sound a little heavy, you can look back on your childhood through a new lens with Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey.
Below we’ve listed our top picks from Netflix’s vast selection of documentaries.
Survivor’s Guide to Prison (2018)
Runtime: 1hr 42min
If you live in or plan to visit the US, you ought to memorize these tips given by prison staff, investigative journalists, cops and inmates who had to shiv to live.
For the Love of Spock (2016)
Runtime: 1hr 51min
Directed by Adam Nimoy, this is a moving documentary about his father’s fifty-year journey as both a father and an actor, plus there’s insight into the sort of illogical fan reactions one can expect when they’re a sci-fi superstar.
The White Helmets (2016)
This truly gripping documentary centers on a crack team of selfless Syrian first-responders who run the gauntlet of daily air strikes in order to rescue victims from the rubble.
Runtime: 2hr 08min
This documentary offers a heartbreaking look at the tragic life of Amy Winehouse, from developing a precious singing talent in her teen years to largely unwanted fame, followed by a downward spin into substance abuse.
Paris is Burning (1990)
Runtime: 1hr 11min
Rediscover the burgeoning drag scene of 1980s New York, an era awash with warmth, vitality and voguing posing in the most outrageous frocks imaginable.
Runtime: 1hr 37min
When a 16mm film about her surfaces, Sandi Tan, a successful LA novelist, goes on the hunt for her eccentric American mentor who vanished 20 years ago.
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)
Runtime: 1hr 34min
This fils offers a bizarre behind-the-scenes look at the incredible lengths actor Jim Carrey went to in order to portray his eccentric idol, the late-great Andy Kaufmann.
End Game (2018)
This incredibly moving documentary explores the power of palliative care, those end-of-the-road support systems that help bridge the final gap between life and death.
Team Foxcatcher (2016)
Runtime: 1hr 31min
A home video delves into the downward spiral of John E. du Pont, the multimillionaire who had a fatal obsession with Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz.
Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey (2011)
Runtime: 1hr 16min
This film explores the origin story of Kevin Clash, the man behind the most famous muppet in the world who achieved his dream of working alongside master puppeteer Jim Henson.
Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee (2016)
Runtime: 1hr 37min
Follow the twisty tale of one John McAfee, the millionaire software visionary who reinvented himself from virus buster to Kurtz-esque jungle hermit, yogi, crypto enthusiast and presidential candidate.
Runtime: 1hr 40min
UNESCO presents the desperate plight of the African region of Virunga, a bastion sanctuary for the critically endangered mountain gorillas and surrounded on all sides by bloody civil war.
Strong Island (2017)
Runtime: 1hr 47min
An emotional roller-coaster ride that examines the senseless police slaying of William Ford and the continuing devastation and injustices inflicted on his family and investigative filmmaker and brother Yance Ford.
The Bad Kids (2016)
Runtime: 1hr 41min
A group of Mojave-Desert-based teachers go above and beyond for a campus of “last chance” troubled youths who are otherwise destined for the corrections system.
Watched them all already?
If you’re looking for even more documentaries to broaden your mind, check out our complete list of documentaries currently available on Netflix. And for even more content, compare other streaming services.
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