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Thursday, October 04, 2012

10 great documentaries


Are you a fan of documentaries? A while back, I wrote a list of our 10 favorites, but since then we've watched dozens more. So, here are ten more documentaries I'd highly recommend...

* Being Elmo is an award-winning documentary about the puppeteer who created Elmo, many children's first friend.
* Happy explores what actually lifts our spirits; the bracingly honest interviews with people from Tokyo to Denmark to Louisiana offer surprising insights that honestly could change your life.
* Love Etc. follows five couples in New York City: young, old, gay, straight, falling in love, getting married, having babies, breaking up. Heartbreaking and beautiful.
* First Position chronicles five young ballet dancers in an international competition, as well as their wildly different paths to the stage.
* Elvis '56 tells the story of how the naive young singer catapulted to intense world fame in just one year. Endearing and surprisingly poignant. (I just wanted to give him a hug!)
* Bill Cunningham New York profiles the cheerful octogenarian fashion photographer of the New York Times. While biking around NYC on a vintage Schwinn, he changed the way people see fashion.
* Touching the Void recounts the astonishing story of two friends' disastrous attempt to climb a mountain in Peru. A leg is broken, a rope is cut...who will survive?
* Babies was a breath of fresh air when I was (very) pregnant. How reassuring to see four families raising happy children in such remarkably different ways.
* The September Issue reveals how the Vogue editors create the magazine, including fashion shows, photo shoot and lots of passive aggression. A must-watch for fans of The Devil Wears Prada—this is the real deal!
* Born Rich is a documentary about the experience of growing up as a child in one of the world's richest families. Creator Jamie Johnson (an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune) profiled his own social circle, including Trumps, Vanderbilts and Bloombergs. These twentysomethings seem to have perfect lives, until you spot the cracks.

Have you seen any other good documentaries? What have we missed? I'd love to hear...

P.S. 10 more documentaries.
P.P.S. And apologies for the late post today! A pipe burst in our apartment, so we've been a little out of pocket this week:)

212 comments:

1 – 200 of 212   Newer›   Newest»
Panda Head said...

"Being Elmo" had my entire family in HAPPY TEARS, the ENTIRE way through. Needless to say, we loved it, too!

Shruti Kapoor said...

I loved Babies!! Have to watch quite a few of these..thanks for sharing!

Erin W. said...

I love documentaries! The only one of these I've seen is Babies, which was adorable! but I've really been wanting to watch Love, etc I just haven't found it anywhere yet.

Panda Head said...

also - Eames: The Architect and the Painter was incredibly fascinating!

Anne said...

Definitely recommend "Enter Through the Gift Shop" as well...

trinaenriquez said...

I'd like to put in a vote/suggestion for the documentary The Rape of Europa. It's a fascinating account of the fate of art in Europe during WWII. Just the description of evacuating the Louvre and getting the Winged Victory down the Daru staircase gives me chills—along with lifting back the satin to peek at the Mona Lisa while she was being cared for in hiding in the French countryside.

Being Elmo is definitely very cool, and I'd like to see Happy and First Position. The thing that got me about Bill Cunningham NY was near the end, after he's pretty much nonstop chipper/focused all the way through, when the interviewer asks him about his family and he pauses for several moments. Weighty pause, that.

claire teschel said...

Great list! I really enjoyed "Man on Wire", which came out a few years ago.

Jamie said...

I just watched I Am last weekend. Super interesting documentary about who we are inately as humans and how we're all tied together as a people, culture, animals, plant life and planet. From the same guy who made Happy. check it out. It will not dissapoint.

Courtney said...

Born Into Brothels is at the top of my list. I spent several years living/working in Kolkata, India and i know many of the girls seen in the film. (I worked for a non-profit that worked with women in this particular red light district) Definitely a must see!

Kristin said...

I just watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It's a documentary of a sushi-maker and his restaurant in a tiny (and renown) underground location in Japan. It's beautiful, interesting and culturally sensitive, and the quality of the film is amazing. Each piece of fish looks like a jewel! It was a beautiful film, and I loved watching it with my dad, who is a sushi-enthusiast.

Anna P. said...

I've recently watched and loved "Wasteland" about Brazilian artist Vik Muniz and his project to chronicle the lives of workers at a landfill in Rio de Janiero. Also, "Searching for Sugar Man" was pretty amazing and uplifting.

Ling Wang said...

Jiro Dreams of Sushi was great. I would plan on having sushi after you watch it =)

bluepanelgirl said...

Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It's on Netflix and it's amazing.

Also, Exit Through the Gift Shop is a given.

Martie @ Spunkyrella said...

I love love love BABIES!! Watched it a couple of times already, especially Bayar the baby from Mongolia melt my heart :)

I´d love to watch Love etc. it sounds pretty terrific!!

Moonlight said...

I actually watched First Position last night, after you informed us about it quite some time ago... and I loved every minute of it.
It's not because I had been dancing ballet for 10 years, and after an 8 year break I went back to ballet. I really think that anyone would enjoy it. :D
Thanks!

Danielle said...

Jiro Dreams of Sushi - incredibly inspiring!

Liz Lauren said...

I love The September issue! This is such a great list! You should see Valentino: The Last Emperor


http://lavieenliz.com

meaghantothemax said...

Those are all on my list, and the only one I've seen so far is Being Elmo! Must get busy on watching the rest...

I really enjoyed Beer Wars - it's about craft beer!

Alexandra said...

Check out "That Human Experience". Wonderful with a great background story of where the producers came from!

lindsaysuejohnson.com said...

Werner Herzog's docs never fail to blow my mind!

The Slow Pace said...

Maybe I'm more simple than a spoon (that's a literal translation from Spanish, but you get the meaning, right?) but we hardly watch documentaries.
Now I want to see all of these!!!
www.theslowpace.wordpress.com

Lauren said...

Ahh, these are so good. I watched Into the Void recently and couldn't believe it- I was on the edge of my seat the whole time!

And I'd like to second (third? fourth?) the recommendations for Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Totally riveting and inspiring. They tell the story so simply but there isn't a boring moment.

Jocelyn said...

Aw Being Elmo is a great one

Unknown said...

Forks over Knives!! Changed my outlook on food and nutrition. It's true: we are what we eat!

etvoilacoralie said...

Thanks a lot for sharing! I want to watch them all right now...!

Aurelie said...

Dear Zachary will shred you to pieces but one of te best by far. Beautiful and shockingly heartbreaking. Watched it when I was pregnant. Bad idea. But great movie.

Georgia Fyke Nesbitt said...

Ooooh I want to see Born Rich. Johnson did an episode of The Moth about how making the movie affected his relationship with his father. Very insightful and interesting!

Slone Ranger said...

Love documentaries. The September issue is great. Being Elmo is on the list of must-see. Objectified is a cool one.

Priscilla said...

The Bill Cunningham documentary is the sweetest! I was so happy to see him out and about at Fashion Week!

Corrie Anne said...

Ooo fun!! I loved Wordplay about crossword puzzles!!

Mad Max and Family said...

I loved Being Elmo! I think there is only one other of those that I saw. I need to see if I can find some of those on Netflix.

-Tara

http://madmaxandfamily.blogspot.com
http://blog.chron.com/madabouttown/

Diana said...

I just flooded my instant queue with new documentaries. Thanks, Jo!

Have you watched Declining by Degrees? It explores the rapid decline of university education in America and the factors that are contributing to this issue. As an educator, I was riveted, but in a sense in affects everybody. What our degrees 'mean' and what they're worth is rapidly evolving as a result of this crisis of education. It's worth a watch, for sure!

gster said...

We just watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Inspiring and bit heart breaking. I highly recommend it!
~Gaia
http://gaiacornwall.com

June said...

I actually met Kevin Clash the week after I watched "Being Elmo." Needless to say I felt like I was a five-year-old Sesame Street fanbaby all over again! (Yes, I had my picture taken with Kevin & Elmo)

FutureLint said...

I just watched "Make Believe" on Netflix with my boyfriend and we both totally got sucked in! It's about teenage magicians. They're all just so sweetly nerdy and just LOVE magic, it's really cute to watch them practice for the big teen competition in Las Vegas. I loved it!

Unknown said...

Page One: Inside the New York Times is amazing! A must see for New Yorkers.

Danhiskka said...

Hi guys! Does anyone knows about a documentary about the trainning of youg chef in fine dinning kitchens? I read about it and now I don´t remember where :(
(sorry for the rusty english, it´s not my birth language)

Kate Galston said...

Another suggestion: "Speak" (I believe it has a limited release but is available on DVD: http://speakthemovie.com/about/). It's a fascinating and inspiring film about mastering and overcoming the fear of public speaking. Check it out.

Mrs. P Vega said...

I've seen about half of these. I'll be sure to add the others to my list!

Ana Simões said...

Hi Jo,
I can't wait to watch the September Issue and Babies is on my 100 must-watch (both fiction and non-fiction)

I would definitely recommend you two completely different environments beautifully registered by the same director: Frederik Wiseman.
La danse - Le Ballet de l'Opera de Paris and Crazyhorse.

They are both about dance, in the most opposite ways you can think of it. I really like the way he skips a narrator voice and lets the work of the most amazing dancers show - be it in classical/contemporary ballet or in burlesque repertoire.

I think you'll love it!

Carrie Gadda said...

You have to watch "Please Vote For Me." It is about 3rd grade class elections in China and is wonderful! The kids and parents really get excited about the democratic process and it is great for election season.

Liz said...

This is a weird one, but I Think We're Alone now is completely crazy yet totally riveting. It's about two people who are obsessed with Tiffany (as in the 80s pop singer). I watched that one with my jaw dropped the entire time.

Chelsea said...

What a great list. I'll check some out!

Prippy Handbook said...

You MUST MUST MUST watch "The Devil and Daniel Johnson." Incredible story for anyone who loves music.

dlb said...

Dogtown and Z Boys

Nicole said...

great list! One more I enjoyed was The Beauty Academy of Kabul :)

Ethaney said...

Jiro Dreams of Sushi!!! It was a subtle yet amazing documentary that brought me to tears out of happiness and out of awe for something so simple. I loved it so much.

lollingabout said...

I seriously love the September Issue. My husband even enjoyed it too!

amiechristo said...

Definitely want to see Love, Etc. and The September Issue, as well as the one about Bill Cunningham. :)

by BUN said...

ah! I've been dying to see First Position...thank-you for reminding me to watch it...xoxo

elliegoeseast said...

so every time I have time to sit down and watch a movie I can never think of anything to watch. Its like I can't remember a single movie that has ever been made other than "The Lion King" After a dozen times, I'm ready to mix it up. I'm going to keep this list handy, Thank you very much. I'm off to watch the September Issue.

fae ehsan said...

ugh "born rich" makes me sick. no one wants to make a documentary about the kids of low-income families, because no one cares. just lots of rich white people getting attention...as usual.

Stephanie said...

I loved Being Elmo SO MUCH. I wasn't even a huge Elmo fan before it (when it comes to Jim Henson's shows/movies, I've always been more of a Fraggle Rock & Labyrinth kind of girl), but it really made me appreciate Kevin Clash's work and how he really seems to be carrying on with Henson's mission to "leave the world a little better for [his] having been there." :-)

Alex and Jules said...

Thanks for this list -- will have to check them out.
What about Young At Heart -- the doc about the choir of senior citizens who sing really contemporary music (Radiohead, etc.). I loved it. Also, Spellbound.
And, for another weird one that is a guilty pleasure is Decline of Western Civilization Parts I and II -- they follow the LA Punk and Metal scenes respectively and parts of it are like watching a car accident -- jaw dropped, want to look away yet somehow cannot.

Sarah said...

I loved Wordplay, a documentary about The New York Times Crossword puzzle, the creator, Will Shortz and the fan base. It was quite fascinating!

Jenna said...

I love the documentary "180 Degrees South". http://www.180south.com/ It makes me want to go take an awesome adventure :)

Megan said...

The Art of the Steal!

Mornings with Milo said...

"Half the Sky!" Truly amazing. And another one of our personal faves, "Exit though the Gift Shop."

she said...

American Movie (about an amateur filmmaker in Wisconsin) is awesome and funny, and Devil's Playground (about Amish kids) is fascinating. I love documentaries.

Lilac In May said...

A great list, thank you. I would recommend Senna. It is amazing, fascinating, and heartbreaking.

tiffany said...

JOANNA!

You need to watch 'Young @ Heart'! As soon as possible! It will change your life.

Also, God Grew Tired of Us is a great look into what it would be like to go from a refugee camp in Sudan to America and all of the things that are so normal to us, some people have never ever seen (a fridge! a bag of potato chips! tampons!). It's incredible.

And lastly, word wars, about scrabble competitors. I fell in love with those nerdy little guys.

Ash said...

Forks Over Knives

&

Fat, Sick, And Nearly Dead... watch em both! and thanks for sharing these- i LOVE september issue!

Rachel B.C. said...

Jesus Camp is a gripping documentary about religion and childhood. Also, the "Seven Up" series is a set of documentaries following working class and upper class children in England over time. You get to see how social class influences life chances in a very real way.

Shelley said...

I loved Senna - it was such an incredible film!

Unknown said...

Business of Being Born - a must see, especially for anyone planning on having a baby.

I also love Exit Through the Gift Shop.

bendancin said...

Being Elmo was amazing, just added the ones I could to my netflix queue.

Fiyel Levent said...

Thanks to Netflix and their watch instant list, I just watched:

Sweet Grass
180 South

both of which were stunning and inspiring in oh so subtle ways. I wish there were more documentaries out there which focused on the poetics of the environment and the awesomeness of people without having an outrightly obvious agenda.

Julie Watson said...

We just watched a great one on Netflix called "How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?". It's about architect Norman Foster and it's beautiful and inspiring. Thanks for the recommendations.

redpeeptoepumps said...

I just love documentaries, and I'm adding many of these to my list!

Here are my top three suggestions: First, I have to second the recommendation of Dear Zachary which had me ugly crying almost the whole way through. It's best to watch that one without knowing too much about it. Another tear-jerker, but so, so good and so moving is We Were There, about the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. Finally, and less tear-inducing, is Herb and Dorothy, a wonderfully charming documentary about an unexpected couple with one of America's most incredible art collections.

Wendy said...

Bill Cunningham New York is up in my top 3 of favorite movies! I think everyone should watch it just to get a glimpse of his spirit and view on life. Plus, New York and fashion vs style as the back drop = perfection.

Doody Mac said...

"Anvil: The Story of Anvil"
"Exit Through the Gift Shop"

:)

Angel said...

Great list! I've seen most of these. Lots of good ones on netflix.

Ilona Garner said...

I have to echo the rave reviews for Jiro Dreams of Sushi. I sent it to my dad for his birthday along with a gift certificate for us to take a beginner's sushi class!

Wendy said...

PS- one I haven't seen mentioned here is Rodney Bingenheimer Mayor Of The Sunset Strip. It's a great documentary similar to Bill Cunningham in that it's about a person with an all consuming passion. The sound track is amazing and there are tons of cameo appearances by everyone from Debbie Harry to David Bowie.

paige parkhill said...

Someone may have mentioned this one already but I loved "The Business of Being Born!"

Emily said...

I watched Promises in college. Like a lot of documentaries, it helped me understand more about that part of the world, and how people think. I also watched To Be and To Have. While I watched it I thought it was the most non-action, pointless documentary, but it has stuck with me for a long time. It made me feel thoughtful and peaceful as I watched it.

JLC said...

Jiro Dreams of Sushi... My fiance and I almost never really sit still and watch a movie, but we were both riveted! As other commenter(s) said, simple and beautiful.

Emily Marie {Isnt That Charming} said...

Great suggestions! I'm dying to check out "Happy" and "Love, etc."

Mary said...

The Elmo documentary is SO amazing. A must-see!!

Mal said...

I love Being Elmo! Such an amazing documentary. I am waiting for First Position to come out on DVD so I can netflix it since I didn't catch it in theatres, it looks wonderful

Mal @ The Chic Geek

Sandra said...

I KNOW it's a faux pas to post a link to your own blog but I saw a fab doc at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) last month on Tomi Ungerer who was in the 1960's THE best children's book author. He inspired Maurice Sendak to write "Where the Wild Things Are" and convinced Shel Silverstein to write children's books.

I wrote a blog post about it. I see a lot of docs and it was my fave of the festival.

http://www.raincoastcottage.com/weblog/tag/tomi-ungerer

Anne said...

Thank you so so much for another list of you favorite documentaries. I absolutely love watching them (and secretly dream of making one, someday..) and from you last list I picked two to buy for my husband as a gift (Deep Water and Man on Wire). They were such impressive stories. We also saw Being Elmo (because you mentioned it and our toddler girl loves Elmo), which was great too. So thanks again. I will be picking a few from this list I think. Documentaries make great gifts for the holiday season.

Anne said...

PS: you should check out the website of the Dutch documentary festival, IDFA (idfa.nl), where you can watch documentaries online. The festival is in November, so mark your calendar if you're in The Netherlands (Amsterdam) this fall.

CLP said...

I love documentaries! I have a list to watch when my husband is out of town because he gets bored by them. I loved Babies (I saw it twice in the theater), The September Issue, Bill Cunningham, My Kid Could Paint That is an all time favorite and Food Inc. I also really liked Marwencol and Herb & Dorothy

Lauren MIrow said...

Vernon, Florida
A Walk to Beautiful
Sherman's March
Born into Brothels

Are a few of my favorites. Also I'm taking a documentary film class right now!

Arielle Wren said...

LOVE The September Issue!
Fashion wise I love Signe Chanel which is actually a series that was on Sundance and documents the making of a Chanel Haute Couture Collection- watching the seamstresses at work is magical!
I will chime in with Valention: The Last Emperor as well.
I also second Exit Through The Gift Shop; it was absolutely fascinating.
One that hasn't been mentioned that I love is My Kid Could Paint That which is meant to document the path of a 5 year old painting prodigy but instead turns into a question of whether or not the paintings are actually done by her or her father. It's really fascinating.
And although the authenticity of this documentary has been questioned- I really loved Catfish.

Kathy said...

Herb & Dorothy was wonderful and reminded me a lot of the Bill Cunningham doc.

Also, Valentino, the Last Emperor was amazing as well.

Molly said...

Crazy Love!!

Brooke Reynolds said...

You should check out BUCK, if you haven't seen it. Both my husband and I loved it, and though it's about horses, we found lots of insights into parenting as well.

Kate Wyver said...

Ohh some of these sound great! I watched Touching The Void on the edge of the sofa, it was incredible! I never thought I'd enjoy it as much as I did!

Jackie B. said...

I just started a documentary board on pinterest and this post reminded me of some old favorites and also some new ones to check out. Thanks! -jb.

http://madewithlovebyjackieb.blogspot.co.uk/

byk8154 said...

I'm a bit of a political junkie and i love the movie Street Fight... the trailer doesn't do it justice...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8jtAASYdLw

bungteaux said...

I love Babies and Being Elmo, made me teary throughout the whole movie. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a must see.
I want to recommend Gary Hustwit's documentary series. They're so beautifully shot.
'Page One', a film about the New York Times newspaper and the teams (and characters) behind it all.
'Mr Foster How Much Does your Building Weigh?' is an interview of Norman Foster, a famous British architect, his life, his work, his struggle. I think you'll like it.

makeitintosomethingbeautiful said...

I love documentaries, thanks for bringing a few new ones to add to my list!

I would highly recommend "enter through the gift shop" and "Jiro dreams of sushi" if you haven't already seen these ones.

makeitintosomethingbeautiful said...

oops that would be EXIT through the gift shop. ;)

Heldine said...

I recently watched "Being Elmo" as a result of reading your post about it a while ago. I enjoyed it a lot and look forward to seeing other documentaries you have on your list! :)

hillary g said...

I was in love with Man on a Wire, so fascinating! I love that I have all of these to add to my must watch list!
x.h
minidesignco.com

Heidi said...

Thanks to NetFlix, we've jumped on the documentary bandwagon as well! There are so many favorites I've found there (especially pertaining to the environment / clean eating). I just watched The Business of Being Born and was so impressed by it that I watched it again later that day with my husband. We're not expecting yet, but when I do have babies one day the natural child birth route seems like the right fit for us. A really eye opening film, especially with baby #2 in near plans for your family. And it might spur some interesting thoughts for a Motherhood Monday post.

P.S. I swear I'm not as granola as this post makes me sound :)

Live Inspired,
Heidi Chamoun
athousandlaughingstarfish.blogspot.com

H said...

Definitely going to look into watching The September Issue. I'm also really excited because one that you mentioned a while back, 'Goodbye First Love' is finally available on Nextflix! Live streaming! I know what my plans are for tonight! (:

Anh Le said...

I never pay much attention to documentaries but your recommended list looks thrilling to me. And also other comments make me really want to watch them now. I think i would start with Love Etc first because the description is really catch to me and because I'm in love now :)
Thanks for your recommendation!

Anh @ http://fabnfun.com

Ms. Wife of the Year said...

if you haven't seen Spellbound, you are definitely missing out!

Babil and Bijou said...

I am a documentary junkie.

Some of my faves:

F for Fake (1974) - Orson Welles last completed film - twists and turns about art forgery

High School (1968) - Frederick Wiseman's masterpiece - unfortunately all of his films are very difficult to find on DVD

Burden of Dreams (1982) - Les Blank chronicles the insanity that was the filming of Werner Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo" - also great is Les Blank's "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe"

Brother's Keeper (1992) - The murder trial of Delbert Ward. He lived with his three elderly brothers in a shack in NY State and was put on trial for killing one of his brothers (they slept in the same bed). Heartbreaking, yet inspiring as the community rallies around this unusual man.

A Touch of Greatness (2005) - Inspirational film about the groundbreaking teaching style of Albert Cullum with original footage of his classroom style from the 60s

- Samantha at http://babilandbijou.com

Danhiskka said...

Absolutely! I craved sushi for days after watching Hiro.

Kate said...

Essential viewing, IMHO:

Inside Job
Food Inc.
Collapse
The World According to Monsanto

Documentaries like these do a great job of informing us what is really going on in the world, avoiding the soundbite shallowness of TV news.

aglassofmilk said...

i loved your first documentary post and it's come in handy to answer the "what do you want to watch?" question before. i also love the business of being born and art and copy. thanks for some new ideas today.

Sarah said...

Jiro dreams of Sushi is AMAZING. It's about a Michelin star sushi chef in Tokyo who is 80 years old. His has been making sushi his entire life and only taken a day off for funerals and national holidays. Anthony Bourdain listed his restaurant in his top 13 places to eat before you die. This film is brilliant.

Mina said...

I LOVED "Exit through the gift shop." Sooo good! Also enjoyed "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead."

Allie said...

Grey Gardens is a must. Love Little Edie.

Kirstin said...

"Blood Brother" is a great documentary, coming out shortly. Watch the trailer!
bloodbrotherfilm.com

BrigittaR said...

Have you seen Metal:A headbangers journey? I'm not a fan of metal as a music genre but this doco is a really personal story full of cultural history and insights. Plus you can have a laugh at the outfits worn by hair-metal bands in the 80s. Highly recommended.

Hope that pipe is fixed x

cateoh said...

you should try to watch "life in Movement" tragic and inspirational all at once!

Jody said...

If you know anyone on the Autism Spectrum or anyone with a family member on the Spectrum, you must watch Loving Lampposts. A clear, compassionate and real look at kids and adults on the Spectrum (whom you hardly ever see represented in films.) Bonus points that it features my awesome and adorable nephew Sam. Available on iTunes, Netflix, Amazon. More info here:
http://www.lovinglamppostsmovie.com/synopsis.html

gia said...

Such a great list! I also love "Up Syndrome" which follows a young man with down's syndrome and his friend (the filmmaker), throughout the year after high school graduation, with footage of the films they made together as children. Touches on birth, aging, work, and growing up.

gillian. said...

I second the reader above's suggestion of the Eames docu. SO great. My boyfriend and I just went to see "searching for sugarman" which is in some theaters here in New York and we were totally totally blown away. "life in a day" is also really amazing. 'el bulli' is amazing! also 'last train home' + 'the sun behind the clouds' + 'up the yangtze' . ah! i could probably go on!

Lexie said...

I don't know how you feel about sports, but Hoop Dreams and The Street Stops Here are both amazing basketball documentaries! I have a tradition (with myself! ha!) of Documentary Mondays ... another really cute one is Gotta Dance, about a senior citizens-only hip hop dance team!

M.M. said...

I agree with another commenter above: "Man on Wire," also an interesting one is "My Kid Could Paint That".

bilbyandbear said...

I really enjoyed 'The Cove' but a word of warning, it's so provoking and heart wrenching, it made me cry and depressed for a while afterwards.

Thanks for the list, I'll be sure to check them out.

bilbyandbear.wordpress.com

M.M. said...

And I forgot one of my faves, "Spellbound", about kids in the national spelling bee championships.

Babil and Bijou said...

Oh... and Heavy Metal Parking Lot!

http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/heavy_metal_parking_lot

-samantha @ http://babilandbijou.com

Babil and Bijou said...

The Kid Stays in the Picture (Robert Evans autobiographical look at his career in movies). Super gossipy and Robert Evans cannot be topped.

cozywalls.com said...

most recently I loved "Buck" & "Herb & Dorothy" - both visually stunning and moving in different ways.

B: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1753549/
H & D: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1227929/

The Letters Project said...

ESPN's 30 for 30 docs are usually very interesting and entertaining.

smash said...

I LOVED being Elmo. It made me cry. So sweet.

Hanna Teachey said...

"I Am" by Tom Shadyac (who incidentally executive produced "Happy" and is responsible for Ace Ventura and Nutty Professor oddly enough). It changed my life.

igotsapoodle said...

Downtown 81 (aka New York Beat Movie)- not exactly a documentary, but about the artist Jean Michel Basquiat

Typeface- a documentary by Kartemquin Films (Chicago) about a struggling small museum in Wisconsin called the Hamilton Woodtype Museum, which preserves machinery/examples of of the art of letterpress

The Interrupters- chronicles the intersecting lives of gangs in Chicago and the former gang members called "interrupters" who try to stop the violence

igotsapoodle said...

P.S. Downtown 81 is actually on youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0O_0OymvUQ

Lexi said...

Watch "Life in a day", it trumps all other documentaries!

Katy DeBardelaben said...

you missed "Freakanomics"! Great documentary.

shannon harley said...

I love "Waste Land" by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz and a director behind "City of God". Beautiful, tragic, humbling and set in Rio de Janeiro's garbage dump, Gramacho.

Shannon Brickner said...

I loved, loved Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead and L'Amour Fou. Totally different, but both great. I have seen almost everything on your list, but am definitely going to check out the couple I haven't watched yet! xx

Angelica B. said...

Blood Into Wine, Exit Through the Gift Shop, The Bridge. All of your suggestions are going on my Netflix, asap.

Susana said...

My other favs - Jiro dreams of sushi, Waiting for Superman, Freakonomics

Susana said...

One more - Valentino the last Emperor

Fai said...

First position brings back my ballet days! Lots of blisters and missing toenails. Lol

Sara said...

180 Degrees South! A MUST WATCH! Also, The Parrots of Telegraph Hill is absolutely wonderful.

Lauren Newkirk said...

I can't say enough good things about To Be and To Have. It follows a group of students, ages 4 through 11, in a school in rural France. Their teacher, Georges Lopez, is unbelievably dedicated and patient, and his commitment to his students is so touching.

King of Kong follows the two best Donkey Kong players in America. Yes, this documentary focuses on Donkey Kong, a game that has a fraction of the cultural significance it once had in the '80s. But it's so entertaining!

Pressure Cooker is another great documentary about a straight talking culinary arts teacher in working-class Northeast Philadelphia who prepares her students for an annual citywide cooking competition. You'll be on the edge of your seat rooting for her students!

Enjoy!

Caitlin said...

Girrrll, all I watch is documentaries.

Senna is a fantastic one, and I knew almost nothing about F1 racing.

Marley is also really super. A great look into the life of a very important musician.

Ken Burns knows what's up. I recently tore through both The West and National Parks series. I learned so much!

It's been said, but Jiro Dreams of Sushi is amazing. Gorgeous and makes you care about sushi in a way you didn't know possible.

fillthewell said...

There was a point in time when I would pull up the trailer for "Babies" multiple times a day to lift my spirits. So incredible. Thanks for sharing this list!

Katt said...

King of Kong a fistful of quarters
I also second Please vote for me
and Dear Zachary Have to make my way through your list!

jessie said...

I'm studying documentary films in college! I highly recommend "Life in a Day." Also, "Etre et Avoir."

tragicsandwich said...

We really liked "Step Into Liquid," about surfing, "Dust to Glory," about the Baja 500 race, and "Long Way 'Round," in which Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman travel across Europe, Asia and North America by motorcycle. "Race to Dakar" featured Boorman in an extreme desert race and was also very good.

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BronsonBloopers said...

These look really interesting! xoxo

http://bronsonbloopers.blogspot.com

The Cyclists Wife said...

You should check out 180 South!

Sarah said...

Mmmmmmm- LOOOOVE parots of telegraph hill.

E. said...

Thanks for the recommendations! I'm dying to check out Food Inc, Babies, Happy, Love Etc. and First Position

Blandine said...

I second Etre et avoir.
Also, Pianomania is great if you're into music.

Marianne Engemand said...

I watched the trailer for Babies and I was blown away by its simple and the life-affirming tone. The movie lived up to all my expectations and made me feel all fuzzy inside :-)

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Kristina said...

I love "Babies". I first watched it when I was pregnant.

http://kribamil.blogspot.de/

BigLittleOwl said...

I will add Kon Tiki - the original: )

Sally Cage said...

One of the best documentaries I've ever seen is about Robert Macnamara and the Cuban missile crisis, called THE FOG OF WAR.

My husband watched it first and begged me to watch it...totally not my scene so I said no for the longest time, then finally watched. It was absolutely gripping and fascinating. Such a well-made film. Can't praise it enough!!!

Sally Cage said...

One of the best documentaries I've ever seen is about Robert Macnamara and the Cuban missile crisis, called THE FOG OF WAR.

My husband watched it first and begged me to watch it...totally not my scene so I said no for the longest time, then finally watched. It was absolutely gripping and fascinating. Such a well-made film. Can't praise it enough!!!

Maria said...

Another great one is INSIDE JOB about the causes of the worldwide financial crisis. It will have you cursing at your TV screen! And I'M STILL HERE is a sort of faux documentary about Joaquin' Phoenix's 2010 breakdown.

ms.bulat said...

Sorry i Dont have any recommendations but thnks for sharing! will totally watch!

Corinne said...

Searching for Sugarman - story of an American musician called Rodriguez who had little fame in the States but was huge in South Africa. Beautiful. Just see it.

mcmoth said...

WHEN WE WERE KINGS about the Ali v Foreman fight in 1974. Like Senna, it doesn't matter if you don't like the sport, it's about capturing the mood surrounding the people and events. Contributions from Norman Mailer, Spike Lee etc.

McKenzie Miller said...

Joanna-

Funny things happened. We went off your list last time to rent some documentaries when my in-laws came. I put on Surfwise. My husband and I just got back from surf trip in Costa Rica, so it seemed perfect.

Let's just say that both my in-laws are conservative Christian ministers and did not appreciate it as much as we did. They were shocked. It was the first time they had met me.

To top everything off, I sleep in the buff with the a/c off. Our place was hot that night and they had asked to turn it on. I woke in the middle of the night freezing and put on a silk, lace, slightly see-through robe. Only to come out of our room to see my father in-law reading the paper and seeing me half naked. I screamed at him, "PERVERT" due to my tiredness.

So yes, Surfwise (I'm Jewish, which I think concerned them even more after the movie) and perverts. My brother in-laws said I am forever their favorite for that story.

Thanks for the recommendations!

Unknown said...

Another great documentary: Unknown White Male... enjoy !
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0436864/

tiffany said...

YEA! This one!!

Jennifer Hile said...

I think the most beautiful documentaries in the world are the Planet Earth series from BBC.

Nothing like it! Our small child is mermerized.

It's so pretty we'll also put it on the tv, and turn off the sound, when people are over so that it plays like art.

A team of people scoured the world for years to capture the earth's most gorgeous locations, it really is unique I think.

laurenfoode.com said...

Definitely see The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom. A heartbreaking but incredibly touching story of post-tsunami Japan and how the cherry blossom festival gave the people something to be hopeful about. Just incredible. http://thetsunamiandthecherryblossom.com/

Chelsea Earnhardt Plax said...

180 South. so beautiful with important message and great music

natalienoods said...

You forgot SPELLBOUND. Riveting look at kids competing in the National Spelling Bee. I've seen it 3 times.

Jenny Williams said...

180 South is my favorite documentary of all time, and the music is so so good.

Cheryl Hurley said...

Have you seen Unmistaken Child? It's incredible.. about the supposed reincarnation of a famous lama. Just incredible.

Cheryl
http://thestylistquo.com

EH said...

The Rock-afire-Explosion:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yNitSBXzsA

I loved this movie. The ending is haunting.

EH said...

The Rock-afire-Explosion:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yNitSBXzsA

I loved this movie. The ending is haunting.

Gina McAnulty said...

I love Unzipped (Isaac Mizrahi is hysterical) and My Date With Drew...adorable!

My uncle has written & directed a fantastic documentary about a man who stole the Mona Lisa. It's playing at the Mill Valley Film Festival this weekend!

http://www.monalisamissing.com/#!welcome/mainPage

Dani Adams said...

*Exit* Through the Gift Shop

Dani Adams said...

"Man on Wire" is amazing! I highly recommend it to anyone!

Lesley Myrick said...

I third that!

J.Mill said...

Love documentaries! They are my movie style of choice... that... and comedies :) I guess that's why I (and America) love The Office and Parks and Rec so much.

I sometimes think my life would make a lovely documentary. I can imagine scenes in it set to music, my family reduced to hilarious, poignant soundbites, etc.

Kayla C said...

"Being Elmo" is the only one from your list that I've seen, but it was great! I was also crying happy tears, what a sweet man. No wonder why Elmo is such a sweet character!

wondrous oblivion said...

I really love babies too. I also love Buck which is very good.

New York Doll is excellent. It is about a groundbreaking punk rock band in the late 70's that is not financially sucessful. This causes a downward spiral of one of its members, Arthur Kane. It is his life long dream to play once more with the now defunct band, New York Dolls. There are interesting interviews with Morissey and Patty Smyth and a suprise ending. Definitely not to be missed.

Winged Migration is an excellent film as well. It documents the migration of geese and shows our world from thier perspective.

Le quattro Volte is a charming film of a goat shepard from rural italy. It shows what daily life is like and many of the ancient tradtions that are still being honored in modern italy. Their is not any dialogue in this film, which would normally be torturous for me, but this film was mesmerizing.

Tish said...

Ahh! Some aren't on Netflix! How do you find them?

A candle in the Wind said...

I definitely recommend "I Am" -- it will change your perspective and make you want to run out and hug someone! Brave 'new' ideas of how we are all connected and why compassion trumps competition every time.

kd_ring said...

My favorite documentary of ALL time is: Paris Is Burning!!!! It's about the NYC "drag ball" culture in New York City (Harlem, mostly) in the late 80's. Hilarious, uplifting, sad, beautiful and beyond quotable. I also loved Living Dolls (about a child beauty pageant contestant & her family - this was way before Toddlers & Tiaras!!!) but it is hard to find.

Unknown said...

A must-see documentary is "Miss Representation"! It is about how women are portrayed in the media, but even more about how parents need to raise their children to prevent the derogatory connotation of women in media that sometimes you don't even realize is occurring. I know that it was replayed on Oprah.

Tyne Swedish said...

The September Issue was a fun look I thought into her life beyond The Devil Wears Prada and Elmo was a great documentary. It was warming and uplifting and everything we like to think of when we think of Jim Henson.

Chao
Poppie
http://thepoppie.com

emilyberit said...

Ever since you wrote about Love Etc., I have been dying to see it! However, I can't figure out how to get my hands on a copy of the movie. I'm in Mpls for anyone that might have an idea. Thanks!

Kristi said...

Encounters at the End of the World ny Werner Herzog is the most beautiful documentary I've ever seen. Grizzly Man is great, too, but pretty disturbing. I also loved Trouble the Water and Fog of War. Other than those, it seems you've covered about everything! If you're a Dylan fan, I'd recommend No Direction Home.

Clara said...

I loved these suggeations! You have such a great blog! =)

smileyclara.blogspot.com

Erika said...

Thank you for sharing these documentaries! I just watched Love Etc, and was so touched by the stories.

Kate Jones said...

"First Position" is a great ballet documentary and the best documentary I've watched recently!! If you watch the show "Breaking Pointe" (on hulu) you may recognize one of the girls!! Of course, "Babies" is SOOOO adorable!!!!!!!!! katejones.me

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Jeanette Humphries said...

"Being Elmo" is definitely one of my favorite documentaries! To me he sure is a man of compassion which we all need to practice a little more.
I think my second favorite is called "Buck". It's the story about the real horse whisperer. If you love horses and the movie "The Horse whisperer" with Robert Redford... this is definitely a must see!

Slone Ranger said...

Jo - have you ever seen "I like Killing Flies"? I'd be curious to hear a New Yorker's perspective on it.

Melina Antichevich said...

I recommend 180 degrees south, and the big easy express

Joanne McKinley said...

Red Tent Movie: Things We Don' t Talk About. Amazing documentary.

C said...

I recommend "Give Up Tomorrow". It's a very moving documentary about boys who were wrongfully convicted on murder. It has won several awards, including two from the Tribeca Film Festival. These boys have been in prison for 15 years with little hope of being released. Hope you can check it out at www.pacodocu.com Thank you!

Susana said...

Mad Hot Ballroom is another of my fav! Must see!

marriageisajoke said...

Thanks for the suggestions. I've seen some and can't wait to watch the others.

And for those of you without kids, you'll still enjoy Babies. Really fascinating look at human.

the actor's diet said...

my hubby's a major doc geek (his twitter handle IS @filmingdocs) these are great recs!!!!

Unknown said...

i second 180 south. LOVED IT.

Audrey said...

AAAHHHHHH! I've seen all of these but Touching the Void which I am watching RIGHT NOW. To say that I am on the edge of my seat would be a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE understatement. Are these men insane???? Great recommendation ~ thank you!

Diane said...

I don't have time to read through all of the comments right now so sorry if someone else has suggested it, but "Forks Over Knives" is amazing. It discusses how we (Americans) eat too much animal based proteins and how it negatively effects our health.

whitwhit said...

I don't know if anyone recommended Martin Scorsese's documentary on George Harrison, but it is top notch! "Living in a material world"...saw it on hbo and then bought it...so. good!

whitwhit said...

I don't know if anyone recommended Martin Scorsese's documentary on George Harrison, but it is top notch! "Living in a material world"...saw it on hbo and then bought it...so. good!

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