Here's another 10 of the best documentaries that is showing on Netflix right now. Following up on Part 3, Part 4 of this series will follow up with another 10 amazing documentaries that you can't get enough of.
Shirkers is the kind of doc that won't give you nightmares – unless you're a precocious indie filmmaker, that is. A Netflix Original that first screened at last year's Sundance Film Festival, it's the work of Sandi Tan who tells the story of her lost, early 90s indie film: the original Shirkers. Tan is concerned with her then American film school mentor Georges Cardona because well, he made off with the reels from what was supposed to be Singapore's first road movie. But just as fun is the punky, scrappy energy as she tracks the memories of this bunch of nerdy, pop culture obsessed teen girls and the rediscovered footage. Watch it here.
Dogs! It was only a matter of time before someone made a documentary about dogs, and this documentary series is heart warming and interesting. From Syria to New York, each episode touches on the relationship between a person and their canine companions – from Japanese groomers who find their unique grooming style threatening at an American dog show, to an Italian fisherman who finds his labrador a source of support as he contemplates losing his job. Watch it here.
Paris is Burning
An LGBTQ classic, Paris is Burning casts an eye over the voguing and drag balls of the 80s in New York. Although it was filmed in 1991, it depicts the world of drag queens and dance through an unflinching gaze with both the guts and the glamour on full display here. While drag queens may have entered mainstream TV now, and voguing was popularised in part thanks to Madonna, Paris is Burning focuses on the communities that pioneered those movements. As a documentary, it’s at once serious and fun because of how it humanises the people involved in these subcultures, even when their circumstances were less than life-affirming. It's on Netflix here.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, hosted by the delightful Samin Nosrat, is a charming look into how some of the world’s most inventive dishes are made, from Italy to California. Each of the four episodes explores one of the four titular elements. Perfect for the winter months, it has the comforting elements of Netflix-favourite Queer Eye, mixed in with the hunger usually brought on by an episode of Masterchef. Beautifully shot and genuinely heartwarming, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat shows that good documentaries don’t have to be serious – they just have to be interesting. Watch it on Netflix here.
Wild, Wild Country
Chapman and Maclain Way’s Emmy-award winning documentary about a cult in Oregon has to be seen to be believed. A four part series, Wild, Wild Country tells the story of Bagwan Shree Rajneesh, also known as Osho, an Indian cult leader who moves to Oregon from Pune, India. He imports parts of his idyllic lifestyle to willing followers, but his leadership quickly descends into chaos after conflicts with local farmers lead to a bioterror attack on local water supplies. The documentary intersperses interviews of former cult member with footage from the 70s. A follow up documentary, on VICE, asks what happened to the Rajneeshes after the events of Wild, Wild Country, if you find yourself curiously transfixed by them. Watch it on Netflix here.
We can’t get enough of true crime, and documentary film makers keep digging up real, bizarre events. Produced by Mark and Jay Duplass, who also produced Wild, Wild Country, it follows the events after the death of Brian Wells, a pizza man with a bomb around his neck. As a trail to find the real culprit goes on, it becomes increasingly evident that the plot isn’t quite what it seems. Trey Borzielli, a co-director on the documentary, corresponded extensively with people involved in the case, such as Margorie Diehl-Armstrong, one of the key suspects in the bombing. Even though the case is a matter of historical record, you’ll be gripped to the edge of your seat in suspense. Watch it on Netflix here.
The Vietnam War
Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns gives a forensic and gruelling account of the Vietnam War. It’s an incredibly complex story, but in the hands of Burns and collaborator Lynn Novick it becomes knowable. The narration is scarce but brilliantly done and the film has the considered, lingering visual stylings synonymous with the renowned documentarian. At a time when so many documentaries skew towards bombast and sensationalism, this film is also a reminder of the power and importance of a humble, rigorous pursuit of the truth.
Planet Earth II
One decade after the first series of Planet Earth and David Attenborough is back for another series. This time though, a lot has changed. Planet Earth II travels through the world's cities, jungles, mountains, deserts and more and tracks how climate change has changed the planet we live on. As well as the harrowing impact of mankind the show contains breathtaking footage of some of the rarest animals on Earth.
In 2001, Kathleen Peterson was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in her North Carolina home. Although he maintains his innocence, her novelist husband, Michael Peterson, quickly becomes the lead suspect in an murder investigation that will absorb the next 17 years of his life. This 13-part series follows Michael Peterson's defense team as they prepare to fight a case that digs into every aspect of their client's life, including an eerily similar case from decades earlier. Along the way, they uncover injustice from investigators, bitter family feuds and a strange theory involving an owl. Watch it on Netflix.
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond
Jim & Andy is a weird one. But then again, what can you expect from a documentary about Jim Carrey method-acting his way through Man on the Moon, a 1999 film about the life of the eccentric and often infuriating comedian Andy Kaufman?
Carrey's insistence on not just playing Kaufman, but actually being him draws the frustration and admiration of everyone working on the film, including director Milos Forman. Carrey, as Kaufman and his disagreeable alter-ego Tony Clifton, crashes cars on set, storms into Steven Speilberg's office, cons his way into the Playboy Mansion and pushes his co-stars to outright violence. Most of the fly-on-the-wall footage is deliciously painful to watch, but moments when Carrey – as Kaufman – is reunited with the late comedian's real family are genuinely touching.
The footage at the core of this documentary was suppressed for 20 years over fears that it would make Carrey come across as "an asshole," the actor tells us in the ongoing present-day interview spliced throughout the film. Carrey goes full transcendental in these talking heads, ruminating on the meaning of his films and concluding that he could become anyone – even Jesus. Watch it now on Netflix.
That's the 10 documentaries that we've picked out from our favourite Netflix documentaries. And if this isn't enough for you, stay tune for Part 5 of this series, which will cover 12 last documentaries we have selected for this Netflix series. Also, you can't get enough of Netflix documentaries, do catch up on the documentaries from Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 if you have not done so.
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