100 Must-See Documentaries Streaming on Netflix This October

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As expected, there was a terrible purge of great documentaries from Netflix Watch Instantly this month, thanks to the streaming service losing its deal with Epix. That loss combined with the expiration of the entire Up series and the lack of many new additions to replace all those titles made me decide to drop our Netflix list back down to 100 titles from 150. And that meant that I had to cut a bunch of docs that are still streaming on Netflix but which aren’t as essential as those recommended down below. I’m sure they’ll return later, as I suspect more and more films to disappear from the catalog in the future.

Here are the titles we had featured that Netflix lost since September 1st: Man With a Movie Camera, Stories We Tell, Grizzly Man, Seven Up, 7 Plus Seven, 21 Up, 28 Up, 35 Up, 42 Up, 49 Up, Milius, Aileen Wuornos: Selling of a Serial Killer, Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, Underwater Dreams, Cool It, A Fierce Green Fire, Armadillo, 20 Feet From Stardom, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never and Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey. I’d rather not make note of all those I personally decided to remove from our list. They were all tough cuts.

Despite the seemed surplus of newly available documentaries streaming on Netflix, I’ve only added two to the Netflix 100 list. Most of that surplus is inessential PBS specials and so-so docs. What I feel necessary to recommend, however, are the devastating Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About a Father, which returns to Netflix Watch Instantly after being gone for a while, and Rodney Ascher’s new feature, The Nightmare, which I have to include because I think it’s unlike anything we’ve seen before in nonfiction cinema.

It’s true that I still need to catch up with a lot of docs that I’ve excluded simply for lack of familiarity. I’m hoping that through more interaction with our readers, particularly those who become supporters of the site on Patreon, that I’ll finally see those films that have been recommended to me, such as Happy People: A Year in the Taiga. So, even if we don’t see a lot of additions or expirations on Netflix’s side, you should still see some movement and alterations going forward.

Now a reminder of how the 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.

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(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.