100 Must-See Documentaries Streaming on Amazon Prime This Month

If you’re a Prime member, you’ve got plenty to watch for free.

‘Approaching the Elephant’

This month, we have to say goodbye to Ross McElwee’s Bright Leaves, which is a shame because it went so well with Godfrey Cheshire’s Moving Midway. In fact, they were my example of a great double feature. I’ve removed the latter now in protest. Also expired from Amazon Prime this month is The Crash Reel. I also removed Life, Animated, because that’s my go-to removal when I need one.

In the place of those four movies are some great treats: Approaching the Elephant and the horror doc classic Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages were both recently removed from Netflix. Now they’re Prime members’ gain. I also added The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin, which is an interesting history of the currency, and The Parking Lot Movie, which is interesting in many ways.

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 and some groupings where I truly think the higher ranking title is best watched before a certain title or titles below it.

  1. Approaching the Elephant (Amanda Wilder, 2014)
  2. Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (Benjamin Christensen, 1922)
  3. The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin (Nicholas Mross, 2014)
  4. The Parking Lot Movie (Meghan Eckman, 2010)
  5. Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson, 2016)
  6. Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley, 2012)
  7. Amy (Asif Kapadia, 2015)
  8. The Russian Woodpecker (Chad Gracia, 2015)
  9. Louisiana Story (Robert J. Flaherty, 1948)
  10. The Chair (Robert Drew, 1963)
  11. Love Meetings (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1964)
  12. Only the Young (Elizabeth Mims and Jason Tippet, 2012)
  13. Last Train Home (Lixin Fan, 2009)
  14. Manufactured Landscapes (Jennifer Baichwal, 2006)
  15. The Gleaners and I (Agnes Varda, 2002)
  16. Foreign Parts (Verena Paravel and J.P. Sniadecki, 2010)
  17. Picture of Light (Peter Mettler, 1994)
  18. Nuts! (Penny Lane, 2016)
  19. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, 1996)
  20. Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, 2000)
  21. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, 2011)
  22. The Central Park Five (Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon, 2012)
  23. Private Violence (Cynthia Hill, 2014)
  24. Private Practices: The Story of a Sex Surrogate (Kirby Dick, 1986)
  25. Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (Nick Broomfield, 1992)
  26. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill, 2003)
  27. Driving Me Crazy (Nick Broomfield, 1988)
  28. Kurt & Courtney (Nick Broomfield, 1998)
  29. Biggie & Tupac (Nick Broomfield, 2002)
  30. Who Cares (Nick Broomfield, 1971)
  31. Soldier Girls (Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill, 1981)
  32. Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam (Nick Broomfield, 1995)
  33. Tracking Down Margaret (Nick Broomfield, 1996)
  34. Altman (Ron Mann, 2014)
  35. The People vs. George Lucas (Alexandre O. Philippe, 2010)
  36. Drew: The Man Behind the Poster (Erik Sharkey, 2013)
  37. The Last Laugh (Ferne Pearlstein, 2016)
  38. Kung Fu Elliot (Matthew Bauckman and Jaret Belliveau, 2014)
  39. Author: The JT LeRoy Story (Jeff Feuerzeig, 2016)
  40. Elena (Petra Costa, 2012)
  41. Baseball (Ken Burns, 1994)
  42. Prohibition (Ken Burns, 2011)
  43. The Dust Bowl (Ken Burns, 2012)
  44. The War (Ken Burns, 2007)
  45. Prelude to War (Frank Capra and Anatole Litvak, 1942)
  46. The Nazis Strike (Frank Capra and Anatole Litvak, 1943)
  47. Divide and Conquer (Frank Capra and Anatole Litvak, 1943)
  48. The Battle of Britain (Frank Capra and Anatole Litvak, 1943)
  49. The Battle of Russia (Frank Capra and Anatole Litvak, 1943)
  50. The Battle of China (Frank Capra and Anatole Litvak, 1944)
  51. War Comes to America (Frank Capra and Anatole Litvak, 1945)
  52. Desert Victory (Ray Boulting and David MacDonald, 1943)
  53. The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (William Wyler, 1944)
  54. With the Marines of Tarawa (Richard Brooks and Louis Hayward, 1944)
  55. The Battle of San Pietro (John Huston, 1945)
  56. The True Glory (Garson Kanin and Carol Reed, 1945)
  57. To the Shores of Iwo Jima (Milton Sperling, 1945)
  58. Let There Be Light (John Huston, 1946)
  59. The Battle of the Somme (Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell, 1916)
  60. The Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of the Tanks (Geoffrey Malins, 1917)
  61. The Oath (Laura Poitras, 2010)
  62. The Kill Team (Dan Krauss, 2013)
  63. Street Fight (Marshall Curry, 2005)
  64. In the Shadow of the Moon (David Sington, 2007)
  65. Fake It So Real (Robert Greene, 2011)
  66. The Endless Summer (Bruce Brown, 1966)
  67. On Any Sunday (Bruce Brown, 1971)
  68. On Any Sunday II (Ed Forsyth and Don Shoemaker, 1981)
  69. 12 O’Clock Boys (Lotfy Nathan, 2013)
  70. Gleason (Clay Tweel, 2016)
  71. Indie Game: The Movie (Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky, 2012)
  72. Jig (Sue Bourne, 2011)
  73. Gimme Danger (Jim Jarmusch, 2016)
  74. Shut Up and Play the Hits (Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern, 2012)
  75. Eddie Murphy: Raw (Robert Townsend, 1987)
  76. The Yes Men Are Revolting (Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno and Laura Nix, 2014)
  77. Unraveled (Marc H. Simon, 2011)
  78. Almost There (Dan Rybicky and Aaron Wickenden, 2014)
  79. Art and Craft (Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman and Mark Becker, 2014)
  80. Bill Cunningham New York (Richard Press, 2010)
  81. Stations of the Elevated (Manfred Kirchheimer, 1981)
  82. Berkeley in the Sixties (Mark Kitchell, 1990)
  83. American Commune (Rena Mundo Croshere and Nadine Mundo, 2013)
  84. Thin (Lauren Greenfield, 2006)
  85. 4 Little Girls (Spike Lee, 1997)
  86. When the Levees Broke: An American Tragedy (Spike Lee, 2006)
  87. Trouble the Water (Carl Deal and Tia Lessin, 2008)
  88. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth (Chad Freidrichs, 2011)
  89. Fatherland (Nicolas Prividera, 2011)
  90. We Come as Friends (Hubert Sauper, 2014)
  91. Sick Birds Die Easy (Nicholas Fackler, 2013)
  92. Meru (Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, 2015)
  93. Into the Cold: A Journey of the Soul (Sebastian Copeland, 2010)
  94. Voyage to the Edge of the World (Philippe Cousteau, 1976)
  95. The Living Sea (Greg MacGillivray, 1995)
  96. Kon-Tiki (Thor Heyerdahl, 1950)
  97. Song From the Forest (Michael Obert, 2013)
  98. Reindeerspotting: Escape From Santaland (Joonas Neuvonen, 2010)
  99. Super High Me (Michael Blieden, 2007)
  100. Herman’s House (Angad Bhalla, 2012)

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.