Friday, February 19, 2010


One of my friends and I recently chatted about our love of documentaries. As she recommended a number of documentaries to me, I realized that I haven't been keeping track of which ones I liked, and which ones aren't really worth recommending. This is a list of documentaries I've watched in the last year according to my netflix account. This post is specifically addressed to Lina, but any of you are welcome to either take these recommendations for yourself, or take issue with my taste in documentary film. By the way, this doesn't count against my 500-word limit I've set.

Best documentaries I've seen in the last year:

Deliver us From Evil
Jesus Camp
The King of Kong
The Education of Shelby Knox
The Conscientious Objector
Ken Burns' America: The Shakers
Born Into Brothels
Little Dieter Needs to Fly
Manufacturing Dissent
Street Fight
The Order of Myths
Lewis and Clark: The Journey

Echelon 2 documentaries, somewhat sorted from top to bottom, best to worst:

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
Girl 27
Cocaine Cowboys
Ken Burns' America: The Congress
Ralph Nader: An Unreasonable Man
Speaking Freely: (multiple volumes)
Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?
Ken Burns' America: The Statue of Liberty
Plan Colombia
The Weather Underground
The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg
Waco: The Rules of Engagement
In Search of History: Salem Witch Trials
The Dark Ages
Ken Burns' America: Empire of the Air
Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price
Maxed Out
Life and Debt
The Devil Came on Horseback
Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains
The Goebbels Experiment
Escape from Suburbia
King Corn

Documentaries on war, most of which aren't really all that mind-blowing or persuasive:

No End in Sight
Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers
Frontline: Bush's War: Part 2
Frontline: Bush's War: Part 1
Taxi to the Dark Side
Body of War

Documentaries not worth watching:

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
Sideshow: Alive on the Inside
Strange Culture
Constantine's Sword


Jon Ogden said...

The many watch-it-now documentaries are certainly among the best gems of Netflix.

I've only seen one in your list of top documentaries (Jesus Camp), so thanks changing up my queue.

I have two to recommend: Dear Zachary and My Brother's Keeper. Both are best if you know nothing about them before watching.

Lina said...
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Lina said...

I’ll skip the ones you’ve already seen and acknowledge to be of superior quality. In no particular order and in sets of ten(ish), here we go:

List No. 1: Best Docs I’ve seen in the last year-like period of time:

1. The Gleaners and I (Les glaneurs et la glaneuse) – I can’t get bored of watching this, it’s absolutely marvellous.
2. Man on Wire
3. Waltz With Bashir
4. Capturing the Friedmans
5. The Devil and Daniel Johnston
6. The Thin Blue Line
7. Grey Gardens
8. Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance
9. Iraq in Fragments
10. Winged Migration

List No. 2: Best War—and war related—Docs seen in a similar amount of time:

1. Architecture of Doom (Underg√•ngens Arkitektur) – I can’t recommend this one enough, not a cinematic triumph, but one that justifies itself entirely by mere content.
2. Triumph of the Will (Triumph des Willens) – fascinating, not merely cinematically but also both as an intentional and an unintentional documentary.
3. Night and Fog (old and sensationalistic, horrifying and jarringly tragic)
4. Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.
5. Standard Operating Procedure
6. World at War: The Complete Set – I am approximately 6 hours into a 36 hour series and I feel comfortable recommending it. It’s comprehensive as all **** and marvelously detailed.
7. Blood in the Face

List No. 3: Documentaries vile and unworthy:

1. Bowling for Columbine
2. An Inconvenient Truth
3. Roger and Me
4. Anything Michael Moore, anything Al Gore. Basically.

List No. 4: Films I believe all sentient things should watch (in hopes that Daine might reply in kind), top 15:

1. The Bicycle Thief (Ladri di Biciclette)
2. La Strada
3. The Three Colours Trilogy (Trois Couleurs) – technically three films, they are all good though, Rouge, however, is best, the very, very best.
4. I’ve Loved You So Long
5. 400 Blows
6. The Hours
7. Doubt
8. Battleship Potemkin
9. Cache
10. Old Man and The Sea (The Petrov Animation)
11. 7 Samurai
12. Hiroshima Mon Amour
13. Chien Andalou
14. The Triplets of Bellville
15. Volver

Thanks for the list Daine, I’m really excited to start chipping away at it.

Jim/Blog said...

awesome list. Food Inc is also a good one (and a decent/concise intro to the problems of corn diet for animals and meat :)

Anonymous said...
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direfloyd said...

I am really pleased you saw King of Kong!!! Best in my opinion! Now all they need to do is one on the Axis and Allies championship.