100 Must-See Documentaries Streaming on Amazon Prime This Month

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

Finally, the second installment of Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s Paradise Lost trilogy is being made available on Amazon Prime, joining the first and third parts . This has been a weird list recommending the two bookend true crime docs without the problematic but fascinating Paradise Lost 2: Revelations. Definitely look for that starting May 21st, and then maybe marathon all of them.

Joining that film on this month’s Amazon 100, and already accessible for Prime members as of the list’s publication, are the classic NYC subway doc Stations of the Elevated (see our review of its recent re-release), the “daring and essential” The Kill Team (see our review at FSR) and the new comedy taboos doc The Last Laugh (see our review). Also, because five docs from the list expired, I’ve re-added Life Animated to the bottom.

Those must-see titles that stopped being free for Prime members but still can be rented or purchased for streaming on Amazon are: The Last Waltz (rent/buy it), The Red Chapel (rent/buy it), Marlene (rent/buy it), Up the Yangtze (rent/buy it) and Stranded: I’ve Come from a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains (rent/buy it).

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, for one example set) and some groupings where I truly think the higher ranking title is best watched before a certain title or titles below it.

  1. Stations of the Elevated (Manfred Kirchheimer, 1981)
  2. The Kill Team (Dan Krauss, 2013)
  3. The Last Laugh (Ferne Pearlstein, 2016)
  4. Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, 2000) — Available 5/21
  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. Bright Leaves (Ross McElwee, 2003)
  19. Moving Midway (Godfrey Chesire, 2007)
  20. Nuts! (Penny Lane, 2016)
  21. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, 1996)
  22. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, 2011)
  23. The Central Park Five (Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon, 2012)
  24. Private Violence (Cynthia Hill, 2014)
  25. Private Practices: The Story of a Sex Surrogate (Kirby Dick, 1986)
  26. Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (Nick Broomfield, 1992)
  27. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill, 2003)
  28. Driving Me Crazy (Nick Broomfield, 1988)
  29. Kurt & Courtney (Nick Broomfield, 1998)
  30. Biggie & Tupac (Nick Broomfield, 2002)
  31. Who Cares (Nick Broomfield, 1971)
  32. Soldier Girls (Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill, 1981)
  33. Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam (Nick Broomfield, 1995)
  34. Tracking Down Margaret (Nick Broomfield, 1996)
  35. Altman (Ron Mann, 2014)
  36. The People vs. George Lucas (Alexandre O. Philippe, 2010)
  37. Drew: The Man Behind the Poster (Erik Sharkey, 2013)
  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. Street Fight (Marshall Curry, 2005)
  63. In the Shadow of the Moon (David Sington, 2007)
  64. Fake It So Real (Robert Greene, 2011)
  65. The Endless Summer (Bruce Brown, 1966)
  66. On Any Sunday (Bruce Brown, 1971)
  67. On Any Sunday II (Ed Forsyth and Don Shoemaker, 1981)
  68. 12 O’Clock Boys (Lotfy Nathan, 2013)
  69. The Crash Reel (Lucy Walker, 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. Berkeley in the Sixties (Mark Kitchell, 1990)
  82. American Commune (Rena Mundo Croshere and Nadine Mundo, 2013)
  83. Thin (Lauren Greenfield, 2006)
  84. 4 Little Girls (Spike Lee, 1997)
  85. When the Levees Broke: An American Tragedy (Spike Lee, 2006)
  86. Trouble the Water (Carl Deal and Tia Lessin, 2008)
  87. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth (Chad Freidrichs, 2011)
  88. Fatherland (Nicolas Prividera, 2011)
  89. We Come as Friends (Hubert Sauper, 2014)
  90. Sick Birds Die Easy (Nicholas Fackler, 2013)
  91. Meru (Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, 2015)
  92. Into the Cold: A Journey of the Soul (Sebastian Copeland, 2010)
  93. Voyage to the Edge of the World (Philippe Cousteau, 1976)
  94. The Living Sea (Greg MacGillivray, 1995)
  95. Kon-Tiki (Thor Heyerdahl, 1950)
  96. Song From the Forest (Michael Obert, 2013)
  97. Reindeerspotting: Escape From Santaland (Joonas Neuvonen, 2010)
  98. Super High Me (Michael Blieden, 2007)
  99. Herman’s House (Angad Bhalla, 2012)
  100. Life Animated (Roger Ross Williams, 2016)

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.