The 12 Best Documentaries Streaming Right Now - Nerdist
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The 12 Best Documentaries Streaming Right Now

There’s never been a better time to be a fan of documentary filmmaking. With multiple streaming platforms offering up all kinds of original and classic programming focused around non-fiction storytelling, there is an entire world of unconventional, educational, and groundbreaking documentaries to explore.

With so many to pick from, it can be tough to know where to start. So we’ve created a list of some of the most vital, most talked about, and most interesting documentaries streaming at the moment, and where to watch them!

Fyre

One of two recent documentaries about the notorious music festival that went viral in 2017, Netflix’s offering is chock full of insider-video footage that the creators of the festival made, showcasing just how messed up the entire debacle was. Nobody comes out of this one looking good, and it’s an epic parable on the dangers of ego, greed and massive wealth.

Where to watch: Netflix

The Inventor

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Theranos has been making headlines since Elizabeth Holmes first announced that she had created the technology to test blood based on just one drop. That was a lie, and this doc explores the cult of personality and wealth–Holmes is the daughter of the VP of Enron–and how it enabled a young woman to scam the entirety of Silicon Valley, Forbes Magazine, and the world.

Where to watch: HBO

Shirkers

Sandi Tan’s astonishing documentary about the road movie that she shot in Singapore with a group of friends in 1992 is a chilling tale about abuse of power, trust, creativity and filmmaking. The crux of the story comes from the fact that the film was stolen by Tan’s mentor and only recovered 20 years later which sent Tan on a personal journey to discover

Three Identical Strangers

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The less you know about this doc going in, the better. Tim Wardle’s tale about three identical brothers who were separated at birth and later found each other through a series of seemingly unbelievable circumstances starts off as a feel good romp before descending into something entirely more sinister. A must watch.

Where to watch: Hulu

Leaving Neverland

This four hour documentary comes with a hefty trigger warning, as it is for the most part just two of Michael Jackson’s alleged victims describing the grooming and abuse that they suffered at his hands. This is a vital look at the way that celebrity can shield abuse, but honestly it’s more about telling the two stories at its core than proving innocence or guilt.

Where to watch: HBO

Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
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The cultural trend of true crime and serial killers has hit peak saturation in 2019. This collection of archival footage and interviews with one of America’s most notorious murderers, Ted Bundy, was a big release for Netflix earlier this year. Whether or not it’s a necessary addition to the true crime canon or just adds to Bundy’s mythic status is up to you, but if you want to make up your own mind, now you can.

Where to watch: Netflix

Free Solo

Though at first the draw here appears to be an exploration of rock climbing, like so many of the best documentaries, this film is actually about the human cost as climber Alex and his girlfriend Cassandra navigate their personal life around his aspirations to free climb Yosemite’s El Captain.

Where to watch: Hulu

Abducted in Plain Sight
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One of the more outrageous and potentially exploitative documentaries floating around at the moment, Netflix’s look at a young girl who was abducted by a close family friend is full of twists and turns that you will barely believe.

Where to watch: Netflix

13th

Ava DuVernay’s incredible doc about the realities of America’s prison industrial complex and the racist structures that uphold it is a startling watch. It’s enough to give the most casual of viewers an insight into why the prison abolition movement has gained so much traction over the last decade. Though it may be an uncomfortable viewing experience, it’s a vital insight into how prisons in America still utilize slavery and how those laws predominantly affect black communities.

Where to watch: Netflix

Elstree 1976
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If you’re a fan of Star Wars, then this awesome doc about the extras from the original movie is a brilliant watch. It showcases the surreal experience of being a small part of one of the biggest films ever made and the impact that it had on the lives of those involved. It also has some lesser seen interviews with Dave Prowse, the man inside the Vader suit!

Where to watch: Netflix

For fans who want to check out some classic entries to documentary canon…

Paradise Lost

An early precursor to the true crime craze, this documentary about the West Memphis Three sparked a 30-year quest for justice as the crew realize that the “Robin Hood Child Murders” they were sent to investigate have become overwhelmed by a hysterical need for blame, which saw three innocent young men accused of the horrific murders.

Where to watch: Amazon

Voyage to the Edge of the World

Jacques Cousteau’s groundbreaking 1976 documentary about his crew’s quest through Antarctica is seen as one of the most seminal nature docs of all time and for good reason. It’s filled with incredible footage from the explorers’ sub, hot air balloon, and the land they manage to reach. Worth a watch for any film fan, but if you’re a Wes Anderson lover you’ll likely enjoy the huge influence that this played on The Life Aquatic.

Where to watch: Amazon

Images: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Les Requins associés, HBO, CNN Films

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