100 Must-See Documentaries Streaming on Netflix This December

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This month saw more essential films added to Netflix Watch Instantly than leave, though there were some sad departures of the expired variety. As we warned last month, Leviathan was indeed one of them. Also Life in a Day and Last Call at the Oasis, making it seem they were just getting rid of docs starting with the letter L. But then also The Invisible War.

As for the brand new additions, we had previously noted that now-Oscar-shortlisted Best of Enemies, about the 1968 debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, was coming to Netflix, as was the fashion doc Dior and I and Bobcat Goldthwait’s profile on comedian and anti-child-pornography hero Barry Crimmins, Call Me Lucky. I’ve added them all to this month’s Netflix 100 for necessary year-end interest.

Another notable addition from this year is the popular Sundance breakout The Wolfpack, about sheltered brothers who know movies more than the real world outside their NYC apartment. Also Ethan Hawke’s Seymour: An Introduction, about pianist and teacher Seymour Bernstein, and Mala Mala, about Puerto Rican transgender persons.

Classics that have been added this month include Bennett Miller’s The Cruise, which is one of our top docs about NYC, and Morgan Spurlock’s very influential Oscar nominee Super Size Me. I’ve decided to pair that with one of its followers, the Doug Benson pot doc Super High Me. And finally, returning to the Netflix streaming library is the ethically complex spirituality doc Kumare.

I had to make some “Sophie’s Choice” selections in order to make room for all those newcomers, and many will surely return in the future. They are Gideon’s Army, Pandora’s Promise, Into the Abyss, Client 9, Room 237 and Woody Allen: A Documentary, which I’d just featured last month. You’ll notice three of these leaving are docs by directors still represented on the list.

As for coming attractions, the only one I can think of worth noting is the original documentary series Making a Murderer, which we haven’t seen yet but are excited for.

Now a reminder of how the Netflix 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 features in the bunch (Expedition to the End of the World and Encounters at the End of the World and The Act of Killing and Camp 14, 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.