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The Best HBO Documentaries of the Last Few Years 

Ranker Film
Updated June 2, 2020 644 votes 153 voters 11k views 36 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 2015. Which new HBO documentaries do you think stand out? Vote for the best documentaries below. 

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list ordered by
1
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Alex Gibney

Actors: Lawrence Wright, Mark Rathbun, Monique Rathbun, Mike Rinder, Jason Beghe, + more

Released: 2015

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
2
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Mommy Dead and Dearest Erin Lee Carr

Released: 2017

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
3
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Alexis Bloom, Fisher Stevens

Actors: Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Todd Fisher, Griffin Dunne

Released: 2017

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
4
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Irene Taylor Brodsky

Released: 2016

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
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

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6
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Jason Hehir

Actors: André René Roussimoff, Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, Pat Patterson, Tim White, + more

Released: 2018

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
7
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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
8
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Laura Poitras

Actors: Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, William Binney, Jacob Appelbaum

Released: 2015

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
9
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An Apology to Elephants Amy Schatz

Released: 2013

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
10
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50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr & Mrs Kraus Steven Pressman

Released: 2013

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
11
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Baltimore Rising Sonja Sohn

Released: 2017

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
12
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Class Divide Marc Levin

Released: 2016

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
13
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Brett Morgen

Actors: Aaron Burckhard, Chad Channing, Don Cobain, Jenny Cobain

Released: 2015

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
14
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Abortion: Stories Women Tell Tracy Droz Tragos

Released: 2016

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
15
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Solitary: Inside Red Onion State Prison Kristi Jacobson

Released: 2016

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
16
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The Trans List Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Actors: Kylar Broadus, Caroline Cossey, Amos Mac, Bamby Salcedo, Buck Angel, + more

Released: 2016

17
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How to Dance in Ohio Alexandra Shiva

Actors: Marideth Bridges, Jessica Sullivan, Caroline McKenzie

Released: 2015

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
18
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Asif Kapadia

Actors: Diego Armando Maradona, Diego Maradona Jr., Claudia Villafañe

Released: 2019

Diego Maradona is a 2019 British documentary film directed by Asif Kapadia. A look at the life and career of the celebrated soccer player Diego Armando Maradona focusing around the time Maradona ...more
19
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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.
20
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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
21
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David Modigliani

Actors: Beto O'Rourke, Amy O'Rourke, Cynthia Cano

Released: 2019

Running with Beto is a 2019 American documentary directed by David Modigliani. The film follows Beto O'Rourke's campaign in the 2018 United States Senate election in Texas.
22
On the Record is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best HBO Documentaries of the Last Few Years
Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering

Actors: Sil Lai Abrams, Tarana Burke, Kimberle Crenshaw

Released: 2020

On the Record (HBO Max, 2020) is a documentary television series directed by Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick. The haunting story of music executive Drew Dixon as she grapples with her decision to ...more
23
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Gideon's Army Dawn Porter

Released: 2013

Gideon's Army is a 2013 documentary film written by Matthew Hamachek and Dawn Porter and directed by Dawn Porter.
24
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Life According to Sam Sean Fine, Andrea Nix

Released: 2013

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
25
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Private Violence Cynthia Hill

Released: 2014

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