Whether you're looking to dig into some lesser-known history, sate your true crime craving, or snag some design inspiration, you're guaranteed to find a documentary on Netflix to fill that non-fiction void. With a documentary, you can escape into someone else's world, be it the Amazon Rainforest, a failing music festival, or 1992 Singapore. From Academy Award winners to family-friendly fun, here are a few of our favorite true stories, all available to watch right now.
American Factory recently won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and it is the first film produced by Michelle and Barack Obama's production company, Higher Ground Productions. The movie follows Chinese company Fuyao's factory in Moraine—a city near Dayton, Ohio—that occupies a shuttered General Motors plant. Cultures clash and the American Dream is debated in this much talked-about feature.
You might think you know pop icon Taylor Swift, but think again. This captivating and revealing documentary follows Swift through the end of her Reputation Stadium Tour and into the production and release of her seventh studio album, Lover. The superstar is vulnerable and raw in this documentary, capturing what it is like to grow up both scrutinized and lauded by the world.
Following up her Oscar-winning film Selma, Ava DuVernay brought forth this documentary about the state of race in America. Tracing back to Emancipation, the film explores the ways that institutional bias has created the systemic inequalities that lead black men and women to experience heavier criminal sentences than their white counterparts and the growing incarceration rate among persons of color.
Fans of Netflix's Chef's Table docuseries will be enthralled by the film that started it all. Profiling Jiro Ono, the chef behind renowned Michelin-starred sushi restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro, the film by David Gelb is both a fascinating look into the family dynamics behind this miniature sushi empire as well as soothingly assembled, visually stunning food shots that will having you craving omakase immediately.
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, as director Bryan Fogel discovered when, while attempting to make a film about performance-enhancing drugs, he accidentally stumbled across the Russian doping scandal from the Sochi Olympics. The Oscar-winning film feels more like a thriller, as Fogel's discovery propels him into the world of international sports and the complicated, and sometimes dangerous political maneuvering that surrounds them.
Juxtaposing previously suppressed, behind-the-scenes video from the making of the 1999 Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon with new interview footage of Jim Carrey discussing the making of the film, this sometimes bizarre documentary manages to be equal parts a revelation about Carrey's controversial method acting on the film as well as a look at the actor's career and thought process.
In the early '00s Rudy Kurniawan rose to prominence as a wine connoisseur, auctioning off millions of dollars of vintage wine from his extensive personal cellar and befriending some of the most prominent names in the industry... until his arrest. This is the story of how one man perpetrated the most lucrative wine fraud in history, and how the whole scheme came crashing down.
If you haven't already seen Netflix's Fyre Festival documentary, you certainly have heard of it. The film follows the infamous unraveling of the Fyre music festival, an event created by Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule. The festival promised a luxurious experience to match the sky-high ticket prices, though guests arrived to find nothing more than a scam.
This political documentary follows four women conducting grassroots campaigns for the House of Representatives. The film goes inside these 2018 campaigns, including that of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to trace the movements that brought down powerful incumbents and shifted the balance of power in the House.
The winner of the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature traces the lives of backup singers and their careers supporting superstars. The film focuses on the necessary yet unnoticed voices in popular music, giving them a venue to share their stories. The powerful documentary explores why some singers become stars, and others remain in the background.
This documentary combines the personal and political by diving deep into the life of the filmmaker, Petra Costa. The Academy Award-nominated film follows Costa through political struggles in Brazil, first through President Lula's time in office and then through the events leading to the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff. The movie traces the rise and fall of Lula and Rousseff and contextualizes them within Brazil's 2014 socio-political crisis.
From award-winning documentarian Alison Klayman comes an insightful look at the growing performance-enhancing drug crisis in the U.S. today. This film explores how prolific stimulant drugs, like Adderall and Ritalin, have become. Klayman follows these drugs from high school classrooms to Wall Street, focusing on the history, the facts, and the pervasiveness of cognitive-enhancement drugs in our culture.
Looking for a documentary to watch with your kids? Dancing with the Birds is a great option. The movie goes deep into tropical forests, following birds-of-paradise as they search for mates. This captivating documentary explores the wonders of nature and some of its most beautiful creatures.
For fans of mystery and true crime, turn your attention to Voyeur. The documentary follows career journalist Gay Talese as he reports on a Colorado motel owner-turned peeping Tom, Gerald Foos. For decades, Foos watched and listened to his motel guests through rigged apparatuses in each hotel room, documenting fights, phone calls, and sexual encounters. Talese follows Foos and covers his life, watching the watcher and viewing the voyeur.
For those who have never had to face it, the failings of the justice system can be hard to truly grasp, but it's impossible not to feel it in director Yance Ford's brutally personal, Academy Award-nominated film about the murder of his brother. The documentary serves as a startlingly frank portrait of a grieving family as well as an indictment of the systemic racism that can prevent justice from being served.
The critically acclaimed Shirkers follows Sandi Tan as she hunts for footage that she and her friends shot on the streets of Singapore in 1992 — footage that mysteriously disappeared.
Go behind the scenes as actors and crew members discuss the tumultuous creation of Orson Welles's final film The Other Side of the Wind, which was never finished.
JonBenet Ramsey's murder is told through the eyes of actors who audition to play key figures in the case, in an inventive blend of fact and fiction.
A look at the life of music icon and cultural force, Quincy Jones, as well as an intimate look at his private life — seen through the eyes of his daughter, Rashida.
Joan Didion reflects on her career that brought her to the heights of a literary icon as well as her personal struggles in an intimate documentary directed by her nephew, Griffin Dunne.