Within our daily lives, we tend to only make room for the knowledge that pertains to our work, our families, or to our personal interests. No one can be an expert in every single field, but documentaries do offer us a glimpse of the things beyond our comfort zone for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge. Through these tales of true crime, the intimate looks at nature, the tragedies of being a celebrity, and so many more, we can get a more complete look at the world in which we live, one subject at a time.
Even with a constant stream of new movies and series coming to Netflix all of the time, the No.1 streaming service in the world still has one of the best selections of documentaries available. Netflix has a ton of great documentaries if you know where to look. And you’re in luck because we’ve already narrowed your search down with our selections for the best documentaries on Netflix right now.
We’ve also rounded up the best documentaries on Amazon Prime Video and the best documentaries on Hulu if Netflix doesn’t have what you’re looking for.
If you lived through the ‘90s, it was next to impossible to miss Anna Nicole Smith. The ex-stripper turned model and actress was everywhere, even if she was never a big Hollywood star. She also married an elderly billionaire named J. Howard Marshall, and had a lengthy court battle to hang on to his money.
The most shocking thing about Netflix’s documentary, Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me, is how much pity and sorrow you’ll feel for Smith herself. This is the story of how the woman who was born Vickie Lynn Hogan got nearly everything she wanted in life, only to lose it all to addiction and self-inflicted tragedies. Anna Nicole Smith’s story is a cautionary tale, but this film shows extraordinary empathy for its subject and her trials. The documentary has already rocketed to the top 10 most popular movies on Netflix, so be sure to check it out.
Much like Anna Nicole Smith, Amanda Knox’s story exposes the dark side of fame. Knox never set out to be notable or famous, but she became infamous when she was accused and convicted of murdering her college roommate, Meredith Kercher, by the Italian courts until she was ultimately acquitted after spending four years in prison.
In the documentary that shares her name, Knox talks about her side of the story and how she lives with the stigma of being accused of a murder that took place nearly two decades ago. Whether you believe Knox or not, this will always be what she is remembered for. But within this film, Knox attempts to take control of her own narrative and she speaks out about being wrongly convicted of a heinous crime.
The police are meant to protect us … at least that’s what we want to believe. But director Nancy Schwartzman’s documentary, Victim/Suspect, offers up an unsettling look at a disturbing pattern as women who come forward with accounts of rape or sexual assault find themselves charged with making false accusations and even facing prison time.
Journalist Rachel de Leon looks into each case and finds instances of the police using criminal interrogation techniques to get the women to recant their stories while failing to properly investigate the alleged sexual crimes. It’s a disquieting look at the way the law enforcement officers failed these women and ended up protecting the sexual predators instead of their prey.
In a world full of true crime and tragedy, wouldn’t you like to watch something that is life-affirming? Fred Rogers may be gone, but his alter ego, Mister Rogers, continues to bring joy two decades after his death.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is a wonderful look back at the life of Rogers and how he created the long-running children’s series, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Rogers’ lessons of kindness and empathy are timeless, and this film serves as a fitting tribute to the man who went out of his way to make sure that all children felt welcome in his neighborhood.
For fans of true crime documentaries, Netflix’s Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal is among the most gripping, shocking, and topical series to watch given recent developments related to the titular family.
This docuseries follows the grisly crimes and controversies surrounding one of the wealthiest and most prominent families in South Carolina. It begins with a lethal boating accident and includes the murders Maggie Murdaugh and her son, Paul. From there, a series of grim revelations of corruption and death force the Murdaugh family under the spotlight.
Tennis is one of the most far-reaching sports in terms of appeal, and Break Point is an excellent documentary TV series for any fans of the game.
Released in parts, Break Point follows the journeys of several high-profile men and women tennis players as they travel across the world to compete in all four of the Grand Slam tournaments, as well as the ATP and WTA tours. The series includes looks into the lives of players including tennis’ “bad boy” Nick Kyrgios, the legendary Novak Djokovic, young Spanish star Paula Badosa, and more.
For a flavor of corporate-level corruption, the recent Netflix-original docuseries Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street tells the story of the titular financier, business tycoon and the infamously large-scale Ponzi scheme he executed.
A 4-episode series, The Monster of Wall Street uses never-before-seen footage and spotlights the many co-conspirators that Bernie Madoff used to orchestrate this colossal lie. It’s been reported that the scheme itself was worth around $64.8 billion, with the depositions, interviews, and revelations showcased making for a fascinating watch of a real-life financial thriller.
Directed by actor Jonah Hill, Stutz is a poignant and intimate exploration of mental health and Hill’s titular personal therapist. It’s a fascinating and even heartwarming film that sees the two long-time friends converse about their lives, mental health, and Dr. Stutz’s approach to his therapeutic work.
He’s been an accomplished therapist for over four decades, treating major business figures and creatives alike, and this documentary also sees Dr. Stutz explain and depict his famous visualization exercises dubbed “The Tools.” Stutz does well to approach sensitive topics with nuance in addition to charming and candid commentary.
Presenter David Attenborough is celebrated worldwide as one of the biggest voices in documentaries on natural history. That makes a documentary film on the man behind the scenes a natural next step, and that’s what David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet succeeds and excels in doing.
This documentary functions in part as Attenborough’s recollection of his eventful career in this industry, as well as his eloquent and serious takes on the perils facing the natural world around us. It’s a damning indictment of how humanity has devastated the planet, but a necessary and compelling film that’s unlike any other documentary Attenborough has worked on.
Contrary to the beliefs of many Americans, baseball, basketball, and American football are not the most popular sports in the world. That honor belongs to football, or “soccer,” as we call it in this country. But with that popularity has come corruption and vice, as seen in the new Netflix documentary series FIFA Uncovered. FIFA is the governing body for the World Cup and international football leagues. It also has a very dark history that has only partially come to light. This isn’t just a sports documentary, it’s a crime story. And many of the dirtiest players in the game seemingly escape the legal and moral consequences of their actions.
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