Documentary Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See  

Ranker Film
531 votes 175 voters 6.4k views 23 items

List Rules Vote up the greatest must-watch documentaries that changed the way you think about everything.

Nothing can match the drama of real life. Must see documentary movies underscore that point by highlighting intriguing individuals and exposing truths. Along the way, they tackle topics as varied as political corruption, factory farming, and personal discovery. This is a list of popular documentaries including everything from Man on Wire to Capturing the Friedmans to Jesus Camp.

What films will you find on this list of must watch documentaries? The 2009 doc Food, Inc. shines a light on American dietary habits by examining usually unseen aspects of farming, supermarkets, and fast food production. Blackfish is another life-changing documentary that pulls back the curtain on captive creatures in Sea World. And if you're seeking a new perspective, look no further than Man on Wire, detailing the daring exploits of wire walker Philippe Petit. Other good films featured on this best documentaries list include Super Size Me, Sicko, and Gasland.

Do you have any documentaries to recommend? Give your favorites a thumbs up and please add any good movies that are missing.

list ordered by

1
81 11
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a So... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Kurt Kuenne, Andrew Bagby, David Bagby Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father is a 2008 American documentary film conceived and created by Kurt Kuenne. Kuenne's close friend Andrew Bagby was allegedly murdered by Shirley ...more

2
51 13
Blackfish is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Tilikum, Dave Duffus, Samantha Berg Blackfish is a 2013 Documentary film written by Eli B. Despres and directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite.

3
32 10
Going Clear: Scientology and t... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Lawrence Wright, Mark Rathbun, Monique Rathbun 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

4
18 3
The Cove is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Richard O'Barry, Louie Psihoyos, Hardy Jones The Cove is a 2009 documentary film that analyzes and questions dolphin hunting practices in Japan. It was awarded the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2010. The film is a call to ...more

5
20 5
The Hunting Ground is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering, Amy Herdy

6
19 5
Food, Inc. is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, Richard Lobb How much do we know about the food we buy at our local supermarkets and serve to our families? Though our food appears the same as ever — a tomato still looks like a tomato — it has been ...more

7
21 8
Jesus Camp is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Mike Papantonio, Lou Engle, Becky Fischer Jesus Camp is a 2006 American documentary film directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing about a charismatic Christian summer camp, where children spend their summers being taught that they have ...more

8
16 4
Sicko is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Michael Moore, Tucker Albrizzi, Tony Benn Sicko is a 2007 documentary film by American filmmaker Michael Moore. The film investigates health care in the United States, focusing on its health insurance and the pharmaceutical industry. ...more

9
16 4
Capturing the Friedmans is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Arnold Friedman, Jesse Friedman, David Friedman Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS was the most riveting, provocative, and hotly debated film of the year. Despite their predilection for ...more

10
17 6
The Thin Blue Line is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Randall Adams, David Harris, Gus Rose The Thin Blue Line is a 1988 American documentary film by Errol Morris, depicting the story of Randall Dale Adams, a man convicted and sentenced to life in prison for a murder he did not commit. ...more

11
13 4
Enron: The Smartest Guys in th... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Peter Coyote, Gary Davis, Jeffrey Skilling Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room is a 2005 documentary film based on the best-selling 2003 book of the same name by Fortune reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, a study of one of the ...more

12
15 6
Citizenfour is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, William Binney 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

13
11 4
Catfish is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Wendy Whelan, Drew Jacoby, Tiler Peck "Nev, a 24-year-old New York–based photographer, has no idea what he’s in for when Abby, an eight-year-old girl from rural Michigan, contacts him on MySpace, seeking permission to paint one ...more

14
12 6
Man on Wire is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Philippe Petit, Jean François Heckel, Jean-Louis Blondeau Man on Wire is a 2008 British documentary film directed by James Marsh. The film chronicles Philippe Petit's 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center. It is ...more

15
13 7
The Bridge is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Eric Geleynse, Chris Brown, Susan Ginwalla The Bridge is a 2006 British-American documentary film by Eric Steel spanning 365 days of filming at the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge in 2004. The film captured a number of suicides, and ...more

16
8 3
Gasland is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Dick Cheney, Josh Fox Gasland is a 2010 American documentary written and directed by Josh Fox. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2011, the film focuses on communities in the United States ...more

17
7 3
Samsara is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Balinese Tari Legong Dancers, Ni Made Megahadi Pratiwi, Puti Sri Candra Dewi Samsara is a 2011 non-narrative documentary film, directed by Ron Fricke and produced by Mark Magidson, who also collaborated on Baraka, a film of a similar vein. Samsara was filmed over five ...more

18
7 5
Forks over Knives is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Lee Fulkerson, Matthew Lederman, Alona Pulde Forks Over Knives is a 2011 American documentary film directed by American independent filmmaker Lee Fulkerson that advocates a low-fat whole-food, plant-based diet as a means of combating a ...more

19
3 1
Fahrenheit 11/9 is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Donald J. Trump, Michael Moore Fahrenheit 11/9 is a 2018 documentary film directed by Michael Moore. The film explores the 2016 United States presidential election and the subsequent presidency of Donald Trump.

20
17 16
Super Size Me is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Morgan Spurlock, Daryl Isaacs, Chemeeka Walker Supersize She is a 2005 television documentary focused on British professional female bodybuilder Joanna Thomas. The title was a take-off on the success of the film Super Size Me. The one-hour ...more

21
1 0
On Her Shoulders is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Nadia Murad, Murad Ismael, Amal Clooney On Her Shoulders is a 2018 documentary film directed by Alexandria Bombach. Nadia Murad, a 23-year-old Yazidi, tells her story of how she survived genocide and sexual slavery committed by ISIS.

22
2 3
Kingdom of Us is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Vikie Shanks added Kingdom of Us Kingdom of Us is a 2017 documentary film directed by Lucy Cohen. A documentary showcasing the struggles of one family going through tragedy.

23
1 3
McQueen is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See
Alexander McQueen, Gary James McQueen, Janet McQueen McQueen is a 2018 documentary film directed by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui. Mirroring the savage beauty, boldness and vivacity of his design, this documentary is an intimate revelation ...more