100 Must-See Documentaries Streaming on Amazon Prime This February


With Amazon competing heavily with Netflix for the market for streaming content, as well as with the rest of the independent film world for acquisitions (see Amazon and Netflix’s activity at Sundance this year), it’s time we compiled a monthly list similar to our Netflix 100 for Amazon Prime subscribers. I’ve gone through all the documentaries available through the service on the Amazon Instant Video platform and below recommend 100 essentials. One of them isn’t technically Prime — it’s free with ads — but I’ve excluded any of the extra subscription add-on titles offered through SundanceNow Doc Club, Docurama, etc.

There is some overlap with the Netflix list. And there are some titles here that used to be there. Overall, I’d say Amazon has a weaker selection. That’s why I’ve included every film by Ross McElwee and most of those available by Nick Broomfield and Ken Burns. I’ll acknowledge that if you don’t like one film by McElwee or Broomfield, you may not like their others. If you don’t like Burns, then you’ll probably dislike a lot of his, as well. Mainly the miniseries. This list also features a whole lot of Oscar nominees, including one of this year’s, Amy. Also a lot of World War II docs, including all seven parts of Frank Capra’s Why We Fight propaganda series.

You will find a fair amount of classics, including films by Werner Herzog, Robert J. Flaherty, Albert Maysles, Dziga Vertov, Thor Heyerdahl, Benjamin Christensen, Jonathan Demme, William Wyler, John Huston, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Alan Berliner, Agnes Varda and Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. All three installments of the Paradise Lost trilogy. Two parts of the On Any Sunday series. The original, franchise-spawning part of the Up series. And many more great films to keep you busy a while.

Here is how the Amazon 100 titles are numerically arranged:

They are mostly ranked in order of my favor with some objective authority, but there are some clumps throughout the list that obviously fit together. Some are by director, some are by genre or subject matter and some are by series. In fact, I see this whole list as being best watched in order of the rankings. There are a few double and triple features in the bunch (Bright Leaves and Moving Midway and Collapse, Loose Change 9/11: An American Coup and Zeitgeist: The Movie, for two example sets) and some groupings where I truly think the higher ranking title is best watched before a certain title or titles below it.

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.