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The Best Documentary Movies of 2019 

Jason Bancroft
Updated March 16, 2020 685 votes 88 voters 8.7k views 70 items

UPDATE: Check out the top documentaries of 2020!

The best documentary movies this year exemplified what the genre does best. They highlighted a unique aspect of culture or human experience through a nuanced lens. If you're in need of suggestions for some informative and often surprising films, browse this list of 2019 documentary movies.

Fyre: The Greatest Part That Never Happened is a documentary from Netflix that explores what went wrong at a luxury music festival that was indefinitely postponed. Apollo 11 takes audiences through the first spaceflight mission to land men on the moon using archived footage that was previously unreleased to the public without narration or interviews. Look for other new and upcoming documentaries on this as the year continues. 

These 2019 documentary films explore a wide array of topics. Vote up the best new documentaries of 2019, and feel free to add your favorite documentary films released this year missing from the list.

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
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Chris Smith

Actors: Billy McFarland, Ja Rule

Released: January 18

Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Chris Smith, released on Netflix on January 18, 2019. An exclusive behind the scenes look at the ...more
2
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Todd Douglas Miller

Released: 2019

Apollo 11 is a 2019 American documentary film edited, produced, and directed by Todd Douglas Miller. It focuses on the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, the first spaceflight to land people on the moon.
3
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Dan Reed

Released: 2019

Leaving Neverland is a 2019 documentary film directed and produced by British filmmaker Dan Reed. Leaving Neverland describes how Michael Jackson allegedly began relationships with two young ...more
4
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Hail Satan? Penny Lane

Released: 2019

Hail Satan? is a 2019 American documentary directed by Penny Lane. An examination of The Satanic Temple, including its origins and grassroots political activism.
5
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Alex Gibney

Actors: Errol Morris, Elizabeth Holmes, Tyler Shultz

Released: 2019

The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley is 2019 American documentary film, directed and produced by Alex Gibney. The story of Theranos, a multi-billion dollar tech company, its founder ...more
6
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Jenner Furst, Julia Willoughby Nason

Released: January 14

Fyre Fraud is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason that premiered on Hulu on January 14, 2019. A look at the whistleblowers, victims, and the lack ...more
7
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Antoine Fuqua

Released: 2019

What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali is a 2019 documentary film, directed by Antoine Fuqua, based on the life of Muhammad Ali.
8
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Rachel Lears

Actors: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, Paula Jean Swearengin

Released: 2019

Knock Down the House is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Rachel Lears. The documentary is about four progressive Democrats, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula ...more
9
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Xavier Burgin

Actors: Meosha Bean, Ashlee Blackwell, Robin R. Means Coleman, William Crain, Rusty Cundieff

Released: February 7

Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Xavier Burgin. A look at the history of black horror films and the role of African Americans in the film ...more
10
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Theo Love

Actors: Bo Butterworth

Released: 2019

The Legend of Cocaine Island is a 2018 documentary film, directed and produced by Theo Love. An urban legend about a duffel bag of cocaine buried in the Caribbean leads a misfit band to hatch a ...more
11
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Alan Elliott, Sydney Pollack

Released: 2019

Amazing Grace is a 2018 American documentary film, directed by Sydney Pollack, and Alan Elliott. American singer-songwriter Aretha Franklin performs various songs at the New Temple Missionary ...more
12
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Fab 5 Freddy

Actors: Snoop Dogg, B-Real, Damian Marley

Released: 2019

Grass is Greener is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Fab 5 Freddy. A documentary about America's relationship with cannabis.
13
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Richard Ladkani, Sean Bogle, Matthew Podolsky

Actors: Romel Eduardo Ledezma Abaroa, Rafael Pacchiano Alamán, Hector Capetillo

Released: 2019

Sea of Shadows is a 2019 Austrian documentary film directed by Richard Ladkani, Sean Bogle, and Matthew Podolsky. A look at how Mexican cartels and the Chinese mafia are threatening the ...more
14
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Khalik Allah

Released: 2019

Black Mother is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Khalik Allah. From red light districts to lush rain-forests, 'Black Mother' is a loving and lyrical ode to Jamaica and its people, a ...more
15
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Alastair Fothergill, Jeff Wilson

Actors: Ed Helms

Released: 2019

Penguins is a 2019 American nature documentary film directed by Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson. The coming-of-age story follows an Adélie penguin named Steve who joins millions of ...more
16
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Mariah Wilson

Released: February

Silent Forests is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Mariah Wilson. Meet the men and women trying to save the world's remaining forest elephants from extinction in the heart of ...more
17
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Don Argott, Sheena M. Joyce

Actors: Alec Baldwin Morena Baccarin Josh Charles Dean Winters Michael Rispoli Jason Jones

Released: 2019

Framing John DeLorean is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce. A recounting of the life and career of the conterversial automaker through archival footage ...more
18
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Leila Conners

Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio

Released: 2019

Ice on Fire is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Leila Conners. The film explores potential ways to reverse climate change and the possible extinction-level event caused by arctic ...more
19
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vonlicorice added Michael Palmieri & Donal Mosher

Actors: Mx Justin Vivian Bond

Released: 2019

The Gospel of Eureka is a 2018 American documentary film directed by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher. Evangelical Christians and drag queens explore the meaning of belief in this documentary.
20
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Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang

Released: 2019

One Child Nation is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang. After becoming a mother, a filmmaker (Nanfu Wang) uncovers the untold history of China's one-child ...more
21
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Mads Brügger

Actors: Mads Brügger

Released: 2019

Cold Case Hammarskjöld is a 2019 Danish documentary film directed by Mads Brügger. The documentary is an investigation into the death of UN General Secretary Dag Hammarskjöld, ...more
22
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Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman

Actors: Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Dolly Parton

Released: 2019

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. The film is about the life and career of singer Linda Ronstadt, who was a ...more
23
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Jon Kasbe

Released: 2019

When Lambs Become Lions is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Jon Kasbe. The film looks at the struggle that faces both ivory poachers and wildlife rangers in the Kenyan bush.
24
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mtolajian added Q Ball Michael Tolajian
25
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Josh Howard

Actors: Glenn Close, John D'Emilio, Lillian Faderman

Released: 2019

The Lavender Scare is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Josh Howard.