100 Must-See Documentaries Streaming on Netflix This February

Because people say there are no good movies on Netflix anymore.

Paris is Burning is back on Netflix! That’s so excited I just had to lead with it. We love the movie and were happily recommending it to people before it disappeared from the streaming service last summer. Also added to Netflix and therefore our Netflix 100 list this month are the Oscar-winning financial crisis doc Inside Job, the fun Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon, and Steve James’s personal, under-seen Stevie. I recommend my essay on the latter from Spout after you watch it.

Fortunately, none of these three additions had to knock anything off that wasn’t leaving anyway. Unfortunately, there are three great films that have expired to leave that vacancy. They are The Act of Killing (yet The Look of Silence is still here), Kids for Cash, Expedition to the End of the World, and An Inconvenient Truth, the last of which has a new sequel. Maybe both will show up back here later on.

Something worth noting as we head into February is how many recently announced Oscar nominees are streaming on Netflix and featured below. For the Best Documentary Feature category there’s 13th and for the Best Documentary Short category there’s Extremis and The White Helmets. See them all before the Academy Awards happen on February 26th.

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 (Super Size Me and Super High Me and GasLand and FrackNation, 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 (Into the Inferno is sort of a sequel to Encounters at the End of the World and The Look of Silence is sort of a sequel to The Act of Killing, for two example sets).

  1. Paris is Burning (Jennie Livingston, 1990)
  2. Stevie (Steve James, 2002)
  3. Inside Job (Charles Ferguson, 2010)
  4. Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon (Douglas Tirola, 2015)
  5. The Thin Blue Line (Errol Morris, 1988)
  6. Life Itself (Steve James, 2014)
  7. Brother’s Keeper (Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, 1992)
  8. Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (Nick Broomfield, 1992)
  9. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (Nick Broomfield, 2003)
  10. The Look of Silence (Joshua Opppenheimer, 2014)
  11. Under the Sun (Vitaly Mansky, 2015)
  12. Super Size Me (Morgan Spurlock, 2004)
  13. Super High Me (Michael Blieden, 2007)
  14. Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog, 2007)
  15. Into the Inferno (Werner Herzog, 2016)
  16. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, 2010)
  17. Lessons of Darkness (Werner Herzog, 1992)
  18. Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)
  19. Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (Werner Herzog, 2016)
  20. Moana With Sound (Robert J. Flaherty, Frances Hubbard Flaherty and Monica Flaherty, 1926/1980)
  21. Approaching the Elephant (Amanda Wilder, 2014)
  22. Finders Keepers (Bryan Carberry and J. Clay Tweel, 2015)
  23. In the Basement (Ulrich Seidl, 2014)
  24. Rats (Morgan Spurlock, 2016)
  25. The Nightmare (Rodney Ascher, 2015)
  26. My Beautiful Broken Brain (Sophie Robinson and Lotje Sodderland, 2014)
  27. Particle Fever (Mark Levinson, 2013)
  28. Extremis (Dan Krauss, 2016)
  29. Casting By (Tom Donahue, 2012)
  30. Lost in La Mancha (Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe, 2002)
  31. Looking for Richard (Al Pacino, 1996)
  32. Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (Chiemi Karasawa, 2013)
  33. The Imposter (Bart Layton, 2012)
  34. Best of Enemies (Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville, 2015)
  35. Stray Dog (Debra Granik, 2014)
  36. Little Dieter Needs to Fly (Werner Herzog, 1997)
  37. Last Days in Vietnam (Rory Kennedy, 2014)
  38. 1971 (Johanna Hamilton, 2014)
  39. The Trials of Muhammad Ali (Bill Siegel, 2013)
  40. 13th (Ava DuVernay, 2016)
  41. The Black Power Mixtape 1967–1975 (Goran Olsson, 2011)
  42. Concerning Violence (Goran Olsson, 2014)
  43. God Grew Tired of Us: The Story of Lost Boys of Sudan (Christopher Dillon Quinn and Tommy Walker, 2006)
  44. Virunga (Orlando von Einsiedel, 2014)
  45. The Ivory Game (Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani, 2016)
  46. How to Survive a Plague (David France, 2012)
  47. We Were Here (David Weissman and Bill Weber, 2011)
  48. Touching the Void (Kevin MacDonald, 2003)
  49. Sunshine Superman (Marah Strauch, 2014)
  50. Undefeated (Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin, 2011)
  51. Rich Hill (Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos, 2014)
  52. White Earth (Christian Jensen, 2014)
  53. The Overnighters (Jesse Moss, 2014)
  54. Pervert Park (Frida Barkfors and Lasse Barkfors, 2014)
  55. Vernon, Florida (Errol Morris, 1981)
  56. The Chinese Mayor (Hao Zhou, 2015)
  57. Street Fight (Marshall Curry, 2005)
  58. Democrats (Camilla Nielsson, 2014)
  59. The Square (Jehane Noujaim, 2013)
  60. Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom (Evgeny Afineevsky, 2015)
  61. The White Helmets (Orlando von Einsiedel, 2016)
  62. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (Alex Gibney, 2005)
  63. The Farm: Angola USA (Liz Garbus, 1998)
  64. Evolution of a Criminal (Darius Clark Monroe, 2014)
  65. (T)error (Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe, 2015)
  66. Gasland (Josh Fox, 2010)
  67. FrackNation (Phelim McAleer, Ann McElhinney and Magdalena Segieda, 2013)
  68. Dirty Wars (Rick Rowley, 2013)
  69. Of Men and War (Laurent Becue-Renard, 2014)
  70. Hell and Back Again (Danfung Dennis, 2011)
  71. Homeland: Iraq Year Zero (Abbas Fahdel, 2016)
  72. Growing Up Coy (Eric Juhola, 2016)
  73. Mala Mala (Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini, 2014)
  74. My Prairie Home (Chelsea McMullan, 2013)
  75. Presenting Princess Shaw (Ido Haar, 2015)
  76. Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (Jon M. Chu, 2011)
  77. Justin Timberlake + Tennesse Kids (Jonathan Demme, 2016)
  78. What Happened, Miss Simone? (Liz Garbus, 2015)
  79. Miss Sharon Jones! (Barbara Kopple, 2015)
  80. Beware of Mr. Baker (Jay Bulger, 2012)
  81. Kurt & Courtney (Nick Broomfield, 1998)
  82. Kumare (Vikram Gandhi, 2011)
  83. Holy Hell (Will Allen, 2016)
  84. Jesus Camp (Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, 2006)
  85. Trapped (Dawn Porter, 2016)
  86. Pumping Iron (George Butler and Robert Fiore, 1977)
  87. Bigger, Stronger, Faster (Chris Bell, 2008)
  88. Print the Legend (Luis Lopez and J. Clay Tweel, 2014)
  89. Finding Vivian Maier (John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, 2013)
  90. Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)
  91. Hieronymus Bosch, Touched by the Devil (Pieter van Huystee, 2015)
  92. Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang (Kevin Macdonald, 2016)
  93. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (Alison Klayman, 2012)
  94. Hooligan Sparrow (Nanfu Wang, 2016)
  95. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (David Gelb, 2011)
  96. More Than Honey (Markus Imhoof, 2012)
  97. Tabloid (Errol Morris, 2010)
  98. Amanda Knox (Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn, 2016)
  99. The Witness (James D. Solomon, 2015)
  100. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (Kurt Kuenne, 2008)

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.