The other day I suggested to a pen-using crossword-playing friend she should watch the 2006 documentary “Wordplay,” which takes a look into the New York Times’ long-time crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz (above) and his legions of loyal fans.
And that got me thinking about creating a list of the best documentaries — primary to download so I can watch them on the seven-hour plane ride to Chicago.
I love documentaries. Always have. Even when I was a kid. My favorite part of “Sesame Street,” for example, was the segment that showed how things were made. (I vividly remember the one about crayons.)
So I thought it would be interesting to hear from you folks about your favorite documentaries — and add them to my growing list.
Here are a few of mine:
• “Touching the Void”
• “Inside Job”
• “Food, Inc.”
• “Bowling for Columbine”
• “Hoop Dreams”
Got more to add?
I like the ones from Hawaiian Legacy Foundation about the origins modern Hawaiian music and culture.
I LOVED “Marathon Boy” (played at HIFF)
I also loved “Wordplay” (incidentally, you can follow Will Shortz on twitter via @Will_Shortz).
One of my favorites is “Animals Are Beautiful People” that I remember watching in elementary school. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071143/ It’s not quite as funny now, but it was pretty good then.
National Geographic: Inside North Korea (2006) available on Netflix… and I think it’s been posted to YouTube, too.
How about Religulous?
442 Live with Honor Die with Dignity
Only The Brave
There’s the KGMB one on Rap Replinger.
Mad Hot Ballroom
some of ur faves are also some of my faves. omg, ‘touching the void’! it was so riveting i recounted the entire story to my mom while she was in the hospital, and she was spellbound.
‘murderball,’ abt competitive ball-playing paraplegics. raw, hilarious and eye-opening.
Have you seen “Air Guitar Nation”? C-Diddy Jung is funny.
Not sure if this is a documentary but “exit through gift shop” is interesting.
I love documentaries, too. Here are some that I’ve watched recently enough to remember the titles:
Roger & Me
Super Size Me
March of the Penguins
Four Little Girls
Fog of War
Going for Broke
The Pacific Century series by Bil Moyer – unbelieveably accurate!
The Power of Myth series by Bill Moyer
Step Into Liquid
Pets or Meat
Bowling for Columbine
Endless Summer – the original
If you watch the first series listed above you will be absolutely blown away about the predictions made… and they were made in the late 1980s
I loved Taylor Camp, a recollection of the hippie, tree house camp on the Kauai shore in the 70s.
Not really a documentary but I also liked Picture Bride, a portrayal of Hawaii plantation life. This film helped me understand my grandmother’s life as a young wife and mother raising six children in a Maui plantation camp married to an older man she knew would become her husband from the time she was a little girl.
Supersize Me as it was such a crazy thing to do, to put yourself and your health in the middle of your documentary.
The September Issue, a month in the life of Vogue. This one is because I love fashion magazines, always have. I enjoy seeing how an issue comes together from planning to editorial to print. And because I spent ten years working for Prada so can relate to things about the fashion industry that others may assume is an exaggeration.
I guess it’s not really a documentary-documentary, but how about 30 Days? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/30_Days_(TV_series)
Anything Blue Planet and “Life in a Day”
Please Vote for Me (about democracy in a Chinese elementary classroom)
Mad Hot Ballroom (middle school dancing program)
Pressure Cooker (about a high school culinary program)
King of Kong (about Donkey Kong and gamers)
The tightrope walker guy one. What is that called? I forget. The one who walked between the twin towers?
You’ve probably seen these already but I love them! I think Touching the Void is also one of my number one favorite documentaries.
Endless Summer. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Blood into Wine — a documentary about a start up winery in the mountains of Arizona. Also for fans of the metal band Tool because the flick stars front man/singer Maynard Keenan.
The F Word — the history of a certain four letter word; where it came from (linguists disagree) and how it went from a fringe word at the outside of culture to a commonly accepted swear word. Several prominent writers and filmmakers are interviewed including director/writer Kevin Smith who says he uses the word “like a comma.”
And I second the nomination for Murderball. Compelling from start to finish.
Re: Exit through the Gift Shop. I’ve seen it twice and can’t decide if it’s a documentary, a mockumentary, complete fiction or what.
just remembered.took me long enough, sheesh. Best ever doc.= “FreeBird,The Lynyrd Skynyrd Story”.(or something like that). Even if not a fan now, after watching, you will definately be yelling “FreeBird” at the next concert you attend. A must see.
I saw the documentary “Last Train Home” on PBS recently, compelling story of a family in China and the strain put on them from the parents being migrant factory workers who are hardly home. https://www.pbs.org/pov/lasttrainhome/
Some other favorite documentaries off the top of my head:
Anvil! The Story of Anvil (like real life Spinal Tap but also a story of friendship)
The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (hair metal doc)
The Wrecking Crew (about L.A. studio musicians of the 60s, saw it at HIFF 2010, not on DVD)
BBS: The Documentary (about computer bulletin board systems back in the day)
Triumph of the Nerds (story of the rise of the personal computer-Gates/Jobs)
ESPN 30 for 30: Winning Time (Reggie Miller vs. New York Knicks great 90s NBA stuff)
ESPN 30 for 30: The Two Escobars
Once In A Lifetime (about the popularity of pro soccer in 1970s U.S.)
The Making of Star Wars
Many episodes of VH-1’s Behind The Music and Legends
etc. etc. etc.
Waiting for Superman
one of the funniest movies ever made
I saw a on the History channel last week, “Vietnam in HD”. Amazing footage and very informative. I thought I would be tired of the “same-old-same-old” but not so. I realized how much I didn’t know about the war in Vietnam. If it not were for Nixon ending the draft in ’73 I would have been drafted to serve in that war for sure.
On a funnier note, Chris Rock’s documentary, “Good Hair” was both informative and hilarious!
“I Like Killing Flies”…documentary on a quirky (to say the least) small restaurant owner in Greenwich Village. If the Soup Nazi wasn’t based on this guy, he should have been.
Maybe too late to add for the journey entertainment but I love “The King of Kong”. Its about one guys journey trying to beat the highest score in Donkey Kong that was set years earlier by another guy. Very funny and good.
If you are into sports:
Duke v North Carolina
The Thrilla in Manilla
Bird and Magic
I’m not sure if this is considered a documentary but , “Religulous” was a fun and interesting look at religion.
Hoop Dreams is one of your faves? +50 points