150 Must-See Documentaries Streaming on Netflix This August

Grizzly Man

Rather than update our original list of the Best Documentaries on Netflix whenever a film expires or is added, we’d like to post a new version each month to keep things tidy and less confusing. And to make it even nicer for all of you, we’re going to note everything that has joined or left the guide.

Maybe it’s because Netflix is spending a lot of money on original programming now, but this month sees a lot of titles departing our Netflix 150 list, all because they’re no longer available through the streaming service. Thirteen documentaries are now gone, maybe for a while or perhaps just temporarily while their distributors work out the contracts (I had been told last month’s disappeared 56 Up would rejoin the rest in its series quickly following a license renewal, but it’s still unavailable to stream).

Here are the titles that are now gone: The Art of the Steal, Bright Leaves, The Red Chapel, We Were Here, 5 Broken Cameras, Informant, Last Days Here, Pumping Iron, Urbanized (now leaving only Objectified from Gary Hustwit’s design trilogy), Ken Burns’s Baseball and The Dust Bowl and Alan Berliner’s Family Instinct and Intimate Stranger (and all the other Berliner films that had been available). It should be noted that Jiro Dreams of Sushi is leaving on August 23rd, but I’m keeping it listed to remind you to watch it before then.

At first I thought with so many titles leaving, I should just drop the list down to only 100 recommendations again. But I easily found 13 other titles to take their place. They include the newly available Oscar nominee Joanna and the surprisingly great film industry doc Casting By, the very early silent doc The Epic of Everest, Godfrey Reggio’s least interesting yet still essential Qatsi installment Naqoyqatsi, the original hit fandom doc Trekkies (Trekkies 2 is also available) and the very distinctly different Charlie Victor Romeo, plus for various reasons Underwater Dreams, More Than Honey, Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, Stolen Seas, Remote Area Medical, Microscosmos and the returning Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.

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 — the Up installments are of varied quality, for instance, but they should be seen in order. 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 grouping where I truly think the higher ranking title is best watched before a certain title or titles below it.

  1. Blackfish (Gabriela Cowperthwaite, 2013)

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.