films The Best HBO Documentaries Since 2012  

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353 votes 76 voters 4.9k views 32 items

List Rules Vote for the best HBO original documentaries.

Over the years, a series of innovative and informative HBO documentary movies have left viewers captivated and curious. The best HBO documentaries feature topics such as true crime, animal cruelty, iconic historical figures, and political issues. What are the best recent HBO documentary films? This list will help decide. 

Which original HBO documentaries will you find here? If you're interested in true crime, you can check out Mommy Dead and Dearest. To explore topical political issues, try An Apology to Elephants or Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison Belief. For films about iconic figures, check out Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds or Love, Marilyn.

This list of new HBO docs shows all the most acclaimed documentaries released by HBO since 2012. Which new HBO documentaries do you think stand out? Vote for the best documentaries below. 

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Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief Alex Gibney Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief is a 2015 documentary film directed by Alex Gibney. Deconstructing the church's claims by presenting a condensed history of Scientology and its ...more

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Mommy Dead and Dearest Erin Lee Carr Mommy Dead and Dearest is a 2017 documentary film directed by Erin Lee Carr. In this documentary, the murder of Dee Dee Blancharde by her daughter Gypsy Rose is explored, as well as the ...more

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Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds Alexis Bloom, Fisher Stevens Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds is a 2016 documentary film directed by Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens. An intimate portrait of actress Debbie Reynolds and her ...more

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An Apology to Elephants Amy Schatz An Apology to Elephants is a 2013 documentary that explores purported abuse and brutal treatment of elephants. It showcases elephant training and the alleged psychological trauma and physical ...more

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Citizenfour Laura Poitras Citizenfour is a 2014 documentary film directed by Laura Poitras. A documentarian and a reporter travel to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with Edward Snowden to discuss the NSA spying ...more

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Beware the Slenderman Irene Taylor Brodsky Beware the Slenderman is a 2016 American documentary film directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky. The film discusses the incident in which two girls attempted to murder one of their friends in an ...more

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The Trans List Timothy Greenfield-Sanders The Trans List is a 2016 documentary film directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. Eleven transgender people share their stories from diverse perspectives of activists, artists, athletes, models, ...more

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50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr & Mrs Kraus Steven Pressman The film, directed by Steven Pressman, chronicles the story of the daring mission by the Krauses to travel to Nazi Germany in the spring of 1939, and their ultimate achievement of bringing 50 ...more

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AndrĂ© the Giant Jason Hehir André the Giant is a 2018 TV documentary film directed by Jason Hehir. The explores life of French professional wrestler and actor André René Roussimoff, better known as ...more

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Baltimore Rising Sonja Sohn Baltimore Rising is a 2017 documentary film directed by Sonja Sohn. Covering the death of Freddie Gray, the film also explores the Black Lives Matter protests and the perspective of activists, ...more

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Solitary: Inside Red Onion State Prison Kristi Jacobson Solitary: Inside Red Onion State Prison is a 2016 documentary film directed by Kristi Jacobson. The film follows Jacobson as she goes inside where no cameras are allowed: Red Onion State Prison, ...more

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Class Divide Marc Levin Class Divide is a 2016 documentary film directed by Marc Levin. The film covers class division and gentrification in the West Chelsea neighborhood of New York City and its effects on public

The Best HBO Original Movies Since 2012

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Cobain: Montage of Heck Brett Morgen Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck is a 2015 documentary film directed by Brett Morgen. The documentary chronicles the life of Kurt Cobain from his birth in Aberdeen, Washington in 1967, through his ...more

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Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart Jeremiah Zagar Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart is a 2014 documentary directed by Jeremiah Zagar.

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Private Violence Cynthia Hill Private Violence is a crime and drama documentary film directed by Cynthia Hill.

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Gideon's Army Dawn Porter Gideon's Army is a 2013 documentary film written by Matthew Hamachek and Dawn Porter and directed by Dawn Porter.

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Casting By Tom Donahue Casting By is a 2012 Documentary film directed by Tom Donahue.

The Best British Documentaries

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Valentine Road Marta Cunningham Valentine Road is a 2013 documentary film written and directed by Marta Cunningham.

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Life According to Sam Sean Fine, Andrea Nix LIFE ACCORDING TO SAM explores the remarkable world of Sam Berns and his family. Now a high-school junior about to turn 17, Sam embraces his circumstances with admirable courage, showing wisdom ...more

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Six by Sondheim James Lapine Six by Sondheim is a 2013 HBO television documentary film directed by James Lapine. An intimate and candid look at the life and art of the legendary composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim.

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Mariela Castro's March: Cuba's LGBT Revolution Jon Alpert Mariela Castro's March: Cuba's LGBT Revolution is a 2016 documentary film directed by Jon Alpert. This documentary takes a rare look inside Cuba's LGBT community, which is flourishing thanks to ...more

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Manhunt: The Search for Bin Laden Greg Barker Manhunt: The Search for Bin Laden is a 2013 documentary directed by Greg Barker that explores the CIA's investigation of Osama bin Laden starting from 1995 till his death in 2011. It was ...more

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The Case Against 8 Ryan White, Ben Cotner The Case Against 8 is an American documentary film, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2014. Directed and produced by Ben Cotner and Ryan White, the film documents ...more

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Abortion: Stories Women Tell Tracy Droz Tragos Abortion: Stories Women Tell is a 2016 American documentary film directed by Tracy Droz Tragos. The film centers on different women on either side of the abortion debate in the state of

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How to Dance in Ohio Alexandra Shiva How to Dance in Ohio is a 2015 American documentary film directed by Alexandra Shiva. As a group of autistic teenagers in Columbus, Ohio prepare for their first spring formal, they spend 12 ...more

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Rock and a Hard Place Matthew O'Neill, Jon Alpert Rock and a Hard Place is a 2017 documentary film directed by Matthew O'Neill and Jon Alpert. Featuring Dwayne Johnson, a look at the Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Boot Camp ...more

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3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets Marc Silver 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets is a 2015 documentary film directed by Marc Silver. Based on the events surrounding the 2012 shooting of Jordan Russell Davis, the film examines the incident itself, as ...more

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Love Child Valerie Veatch Love Child is a 2014 South Korean-American documentary film written, directed and produced by Valerie Veatch. The film premiered in-competition in the World Cinema Documentary Competition at ...more

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The Diplomat David Holbrooke The Diplomat is a 2015 biographical documentary film directed by David Holbrooke. The remarkable story of the life and legacy of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, whose singular career spanned fifty ...more

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Love, Marilyn Liz Garbus Love, Marilyn is a 2012 American documentary film about Marilyn Monroe's writings produced by Stanley F. Buchthal, Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby, and directed by Garbus. The film premiered at the ...more

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Fall to Grace Alexandra Pelosi Fall to Grace is a 2013 documentary film produced, filmed, directed by Alexandra Pelosi. The film covers the career of former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey after his "fall from ...more

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Crossfire Hurricane Brett Morgen Crossfire Hurricane is a 2012 documentary film about The Rolling Stones written and directed by Brett Morgen. The film chronicles the early years of the band through their gradual mainstream ...more