In the extensive Netflix catalogue, we can find a series of documentaries that truly meet the needs of the subscribers. Whether it’s original Netflix productions or not, the offer on the paid streaming platform is getting broader and new contents are offered every month. From Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey to Making a Murder, let’s have a look at the 6 best documentaries to watch on Netflix to learn about new realities and approach a genre that is usually not very well covered.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odissey
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is the sequel to the documentary Cosmos and presents new revelations about time and space through the narrative of astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson, continuing what was started in the previous scientific divulgation series. It is a fascinating documentary that shows the wonders of the universe through the fascinating scientific perspective.
Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang
Director: Kevin MacDonald
Not to be missed is also Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang by Kevin Macdonald, a documentary available on Netflix that shows the incredible pyrotechnic performances of the Chinese artist while creating what he himself described as his most ambitious project ever. A fascinating and visionary documentary that makes us take a deep dive into art.
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Director: Liz Garbus
Those who love the world of music can’t miss the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?, dedicated to singer and activist Nina Simone, a woman who wrote an important chapter in soul and blues music. Liz Garbus’s documentary is made up of unpublished material, rare footage and audio recordings, and was nominated for the Oscar as Best Documentary, in addition to winning an Emmy.
Making a Murderer
Cast: Dolores Avery, Steven Avery, Ken Kratz
Director: Moira Demos, Laura Ricciardi
For thriller lovers, there is Making a Murderer, a documentary welcomed by critics that is drawn from a true story. The narrative focuses on the true story of Steven Avery, victim of a judicial mistake: charged with rape by a woman, the man stays in jail for eighteen years, until his innocence is discovered after DNA testing. Avery presses charges for police corruption, but he is eventually charged with a new crime.
Cast: André Bauma, Emmanuel de Merode, Mélanie Gouby
Director: Orlando von Einsiedel
The documentary Virunga tells the true story of a group of forest rangers who risk their lives to protect nature inside the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to ensure the survival of endangered mountain gorillas. Virunga was written, produced and directed by Orlando von Einsiede and was acclaimed by critics and nominated for the 2015 Oscar Awards as Best Documentary category.
Cast: Anaïs Bordier, Samantha Futerman, Kanoa Goo
Director: Samantha Futerman, Ryan Miyamoto
Another unmissable documentary on Netflix is Twinsters, by Samantha Futerman and Ryan Miyamoto, which tells the story of two girls who find out they are twin sisters through the internet. The two Korean girls were adopted by two different families and meet online and slowly get to know each other through messages and videos, until they embark on a journey to discover their origins. It is an exciting and touching documentary, very contemporary.
If besides documentaries, you also love TV series, do not miss the article about the best TV series on Netflix.
Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey (2011)
Cast: Kevin Clash, Whoopi Goldberg, Frank Oz
Director: Constance Marks
If you want to meet the mind behind one of the most iconic characters there will ever be in children’s entertainment you must watch this top Netflix documentary on the man himself, Kevin Clash, the man behind star puppet Elmo. What kind of character hides behind the stories of Sesame Street? From the early stages of his career in Baltimore to beginning performing in Sesame Street in 1984, and finally becoming Elmo in 1985, Kevin Clash did find the ‘Special hook’ that allowed him such as success.
Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present (2012)
Cast: Marina Abramovic, Ulay, Klaus Biesenbach
Director: Matthew Akers, Jeff Dupre
What’s the most important museum in the world? It goes by the name MoMA, and we have already written plenty about fashion things you can find in this amazing hub of creativity pioneering. Marina Abramovic is indeed an artist, a performance artist focussing on “confronting pain, blood, and physical limits of the body.” In this Netflix documentary you will be able to find out if she has finally been able to answer the question ‘Why is this art?’
Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
Cast: Banksy, Mr. Brainwash, Space Invader
Bansky is the recurring name in this Netflix top documentary as the graffiti artist wanted to celebrate his global reputation with his own tales of his very own personal story. Even though the world knows who Bansky is, he has always pursued anonymity to stay away from prosecution: in this documentary you will follow how a French shopkeeper and an amateur film-maker try to trace him. Includes footage of Banksy, Shephard Fairey and Invader.
Gaga: Five foot two
Cast: Lady Gaga, Sandra Amador, Tony Bennett, BloodPop
Director: Chris Moukarbel
With her army of little monsters she has gained fame as the artist with the biggest number of followers at her feet: Five foot two talks about other kinds of heights, a Netflix documentary revealing Gaga’s laidback moments, her fragile and vulnerable side hiding underneath that Poker Face. A year in the making of her latest album from behind the scenes for you to find out how complete as an artist she is.
Jim & Andy
Cast: Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Milos Forman
Director: Chris Smith
I learned that you can fail at what you don’t love, so you might as well do what you love.
One hell of a comedy actor, one of the best at assuming the facial and personality traits of imbeciles, animal gurus together with some of the most peculiar characters ever seen in cinema history. Jim & Andy is a behind the scenes look at how Jim Carrey convinced himself he is the incarnation of the persona of Andy Kaufman on the set of Man on the Moon. One of the best Netflix documentary to watch to learn more about a star who has given gossip pages plenty of opportunities to speculate on his absence from the screens for the last couple of years.
Daft Punk Unchained
Cast: Thomas Bangalter, Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo, Skrillex
Director: Hervé Martin-Delpierre
French duo Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter have made music history with their house beats in the 90s and this Netflix documentary is one of the best out now for music lovers as it unveils how it all started, where it all came from. The film includes never seen before archive footage as well as exclusive interviews with their closest collaborators: thanks to their insights it is possible to undertsand more about the work of Daft Punk, including the projects with Pharrell Williams, Giorgio Moroder, Nile Rodgers and Michel Gondry.
Steve Jobs: the billion dollar hippy
Cast: Evan Davis, Steve Jobs, Daniel Kottke
Director: Laura Craig Gray, Tristan Quinn
If you want to get a glimpse on how the Apple empire came to become one of the most successful companies in the world thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of Steve Jobs, this Netflix documentary has the best insider points of view on how it all unfolded, depicting a vivid picture of what the man himself got around to achieve during his life. Not only that, the documentary explores alos how important hippy culture was in determining the success of Apple: it was in fact his interest in spirituality that led him to developed into the most high grossing modern hi-tech gadgest of today’s society.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012)
Director: Alison Klayman
Art is never just art, and you will learn that very quickly if you get into Chinese ‘revolutionary’ artist Ai Weiwei, who through his work expresses criticism towards an oppressive government. Director Alison Klayman met the artist in 2008, just after a terrible heart quake hit the Sichuan Province, an event that motivated Ai Weiwei to speak up even more about politics through art. A documentary available to watch on Netflix.
Food Inc. (2009)
Director: Robert Kenner
Amongst the array of food documentaries released in the last decade, exploring themes such as the cheats of big food companies, sustainability and the impact of these giants on smaller producers, Food Inc, is the one suggesting a way out. What can we all do as consumers, to stop them from becoming richer, leaving us eating unhealthy produce and leading farmers to stopping business? An interesting documentary on the topic that will change the future of our planet, available to watch on Netflix.
The Bad Kids (2016)
Directors: Keith Fulton & Louis Pepe
What makes a kid a ‘bad kid’? Find out in this Netflix documentary about the 11th and 12th grade students of Black Rock High School in the Mojave Desert, who for various reasons have started their life into institutionalised social contests as ‘underperformers’. Can the community, the very same school teachers, turn things around?
Fed Up (2014)
Director: Stephanie Soechtig
With America being on the verge of an obesity pandemic, Fed Up is another striking documentary reporting on what is behind the catastrophic consequences of manipulating food production: this time the investigation is on ‘big sugar’. A Netflix original documentary.
Minimalism: A Documentary About Important Things (2016)
Director: Matt D’Avella
We have written about the most successful minimalist bloggers of now, Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn: they are much more than ‘The Minimalists’ as they have a clear mission of mentoring people (masses) towards living a life with less, stripping off the inessential. Watch this Netflix documentary to find some inspiration and be a better version of yourself.
The Mask You Live In
Director: Jennifer Siebel Neusome
What is masculinity? What are young boys in the making expected to behave like? Why do we still say to our sons ‘Boys don’t cry’, and we are not referring to the famous movie? These and more topics explored in a Netflix documentary on such a contemporary stereotype.
The Square (2013)
Director: Jehane Noujaim
What happened with Trump’s election victory was something unseen, unexpected and even the ones who were so against him had such short notice they couldn’t even join forces and prepare for massive protests. But that’s not what happened in Egypt, where the protest was so intense in 2011 that the regime collapsed. Activism and reacting to what happened in Tahir are the themes this Netflix documentary focuses on.
Wild Wild Country (2018)
Cast: Ma Anand Sheela, Osho, Philip Toelkes
Not many of you are probably aware of the phenomenon a local community in Oregon experienced when a guru established his cult right there in the middle of the desert and ranches. Known as Osho, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his assistant triggered a social phenomenon well explored in this Netflix Original documentary.
Cast: Chris Baughman, Danielle Douglas, Nicholas Kristof
Sex is what rules modern society. If you take a look at how the sex industry makes million of money in the States, you will be convinced of that too. Exploring the theme both on the side of the providers and the consumers, this Netflix documentary is one that will leave you in shock.
Take Your Pills (2018)
Cast: Eben Britton, Dr. Wendy Brown, Anjan Chatterjee
A Netflix 2018 release, Take Your Pills goes into the phenomenon of ‘legal drugs’ addiction, where kids are on Adderall. Where will this lead our kids to be? We live an era in which succedeing isn’t just a goal in life, but is more of an obsession: to be at the top of our game in business (Wall Street) and with our exams, or simply to feel the hype, that push to do more, we are willing to sacrifice our health.
The Story of Diana (2017)
If we have all had a chance to look into the Royal Family’s stories this year thanks to Meghan and Harry’s wedding, there’s plenty to be unveiled yet on the most loved princess of all time, Princess Diana. Plan plenty of emotional scenes and a whole four hour of film for the documentary on Lady D made in collaboration with the magazine People: it was first aired back in 2017 over two parts on the 9th and 10th of August marking the anniversary of her death. Watch her story on this Netflix documentary.
Whitney: Can I Be Me (2017)
Cast: Whitney Houston, Tony Anderson, Burt Bacharach
One of the greatest female voices of all time, Whitney Huston’s full story, interviews from her first performances to her tragic death. Not only that, in this film director Nick Broomfield stated he wanted the story of Whitney to be seen under a differnt light, not only according to the drug abuse side if things:
We’re always looking for a reason to not give people a second chance, and I think she was so harshly judged for her drug addiction