50 Must-See Documentaries Streaming on Hulu This March

This month's new additions include Oscar winner 'Free Solo' and fellow box office hit 'Three Identical Strangers.'

three identical strangers

It’s been a few months since the last list we did of essential documentaries on Hulu. As such, we have a good number of additions. The newly crowned Oscar winner for Best Documentary Feature, Free Solo, is coming to the streaming service mid-month. Soon after, we’ll be getting two more 2018 highlights, the actress-focused Tea with the Dames and the racing doc The Last Race. Topping off the list, though, is the recently added, already available Three Identical Strangers, which was one of last year’s biggest doc hits at the box office.

Also included on our “Hulu 50” list this month are the biographical Love, Gilda, which we named one of the best docs of 2018, the Grey Gardens prequel That Summer, which is also worth watching now in honor of the recently deceased Lee Radziwill, and Alex Winter‘s latest doc, The Panama Papers. We’ve also added Michael Moore‘s Capitalism: A Love Story and Davis Guggenheim‘s He Named Me Malala, and one half of the pop culture phenomenon of the Fyre Fest docs, Fyre Fraud, which should be seen as a pairing with Netflix’s film, Fyre.

These 10 additions replace six docs that have expired from Hulu: The Russian Woodpecker (now just a rental), The Visit (on Amazon Prime), The Final Member (on Tubi), The Cove (on Mubi), Lady Valor (on Kanopy), and Ethan Hawke‘s Seymour: An Introduction (now just a rental). The other four removed were chosen by us to make room and are titles that could very well return to the list in the future: Ballet 422, The Summit, I Am Divine, and Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me. They can still be found on Hulu for now.

Here’s how the list is numerically arranged: the titles 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.

First up are the latest noteworthy editions.

  1. Three Identical Strangers (Tim Wardle, 2018)
    “The story of these three men, alike but completely different, is undeniably riveting. Intellectual, emotional, and moral concerns might cloud Wardle’s ultimate statement, but he never forgets the people impacted by his findings. At its heart, Three Identical Strangers is a simple fairy tale about three brothers re-connecting, but it’s the sensational details that make the story so irresistible.” – J.R. Kinnard
  2. Love, Gilda (Lisa Dapolito, 2018)
    “An entertaining, informative, surprisingly personal, and above all life-affirming doc thanks to director Lisa Dapolito’s gentle understanding of Radner as both a deeply feeling human and, for too short a while, America’s brightest beam of sunshine.” – Valerie Ettenhofer
  3. That Summer (Göran Olsson, 2017)
    “Because That Summer is so closely connected to Grey Gardens, it doesn’t exactly work as a standalone effort. But because Grey Gardens is such a big deal, the new film can exist separately enough…Fans of Grey Gardens and the Beales are going to want to see the unseen footage, and for the most part, they won’t leave disappointed.” – Christopher Campbell
  4. The Panama Papers (Alex Winter, 2018)
  5. Capitalism: A Love Story (Michael Moore, 2009)
  6. Fyre Fraud (Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason, 2019)
    Fyre Fraud is the better, or at least just the more streamlined, of two so-so documentaries about the Fyre Festival released in the same week.” – Christopher Campbell
  7. He Named Me Malala (Davis Guggenheim, 2015)
    “The story of origin and the here-and-now of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani-born teenager who recently became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner. The then-15-year-old Yousafzai was targeted and shot by the Taliban for being an impassioned advocate for girls’ education. She miraculously survived and continues to staunchly champion for universal schooling for all children.” – Jamie Maleszka
  8. Free Solo (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, 2018)
    “Directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin not only made an incredibly thrilling film about a historic sports — and human — achievement, but they also made a film that engages with the documentary medium in powerful ways — ways that some films ignore to their detriment.” – Kyle Kizu
  9. Tea with the Dames (Roger Michell, 2018)
  10. The Last Race (Michael Dweck, 2018)
  11. Minding the Gap (Bing Liu, 2018)
    “What first seems like a sweet story about a skateboarding community filling the emptiness left behind by broken families, molds layer-by-layer into a piercing excavation of the wide-reaching pain caused by domestic abuse.” – Luke Hicks
  12. Crime + Punishment (Stephen Maing, 2018)
    “In covering the story so intimately, Crime + Punishment shares the nerve-racking personal experiences of people doing what’s right. The result is a rare issue film that is constructive and inspiring.” – Christopher Campbell
  13. The Cage Fighter (Jeff Unay, 2017)
    “A stunningly confident and cinematic feature debut following the dramatic life of Joe Carman, who struggles with the clash between his passion for fighting and his family’s fearful disapproval of the part-time profession. The unscripted film offers a rare case of truth being more riveting than fiction.” – Christopher Campbell
  14. Life Itself (Steve James, 2012)
    “James continues to show that he can really arrange life stories with great clarity and fluidity and with very little filler included just because its a good sound bite. Few directors comprehend their subjects so well let alone make the viewer comprehend them on the same level.” – Christopher Campbell
  15. The House I Live In (Eugene Jarecki, 2012)
  16. Whose Streets? (Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis, 2017)
    “Activist filmmakers Sabaah Folayan and Sabaah Jordan have made a powerful doc that excites as it enlightens. It’s not an objective work, but it’s hard to see how it could be.” – Christopher Campbell
  17. 12 O’Clock Boys (Lotfy Nathan, 2013)
  18. Tales of the Grim Sleeper (Nick Broomfield, Barney Broomfield, and Marc Hoeflin, 2014)
    “With its Los Angeles setting and plot filled with sex and murder and police corruption, on the surface Tales might be the closest thing there is to nonfiction noir, with Broomfield an ever-narrating hardboiled detective leading the way. But it’s hardly a pulp story, its complications deeper than warrants a clever line of ‘forget it, Nick, it’s South Central.'” – Christopher Campbell
  19. Cropsey (Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman, 2009)
    “As much a documentary as it is a genuine horror film…Cropsey is an endlessly fascinating documentary that plays with genre form while never giving the viewer any easy answers. Good luck sleeping after watching it.” – Cole Henry
  20. Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger (Joe Berlinger, 2014)
  21. Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (Alex Gibney, 2010)
  22. Weiner (Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg, 2016)
  23. The Reagan Show (Sierra Pettengill and Pacho Velez, 2017)
  24. Active Measures (Jack Bryan, 2018)
  25. Zero Days (Alex Gibney, 2016)
  26. Control Room (Jehane Noujaim, 2004)
  27. The Kill Team (Dan Kraus, 2013)
    “A stunning, powerful film that boldly complicates the conversation around America’s wars.” – Daniel Walber
  28. Dirty Wars (Rick Rowley, 2013)
  29. Touching the Void (Kevin Macdonald, 2003)
  30. Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot (Adam Yauch, 2008)
  31. Bigger, Stronger, Faster* (Chris Bell, 2008)
  32. Page One: Inside the New York Times (Andrew Rossi, 2011)
  33. Tabloid (Errol Morris, 2011)
  34. Love & Saucers (Brad Abrahams, 2017)
    “A well-crafted, uncomplicated, accessible documentary that simply allows its subject to tell his story. Abrahams doesn’t try to tip the scales in favor of his subject or against him, which is a refreshing approach when many similarly themed documentaries tend to make their subjects seem either laughable, psychologically troubled, or the only people who know the real truth of what is going on in the universe.” – Joseph Perry
  35. Jane (Brett Morgen, 2017)
    Jane tells an essential story about the exploits and life of Jane Goodall, how a woman was able to make the discovery of our species and its similarities to that of chimpanzees…Morgen has created a wonderful tribute to the life and work of an extraordinary woman.” – Max Covill
  36. RBG (Julie Cohen and Betsy West, 2018)
    “Ginsburg’s voice is a strong presence throughout the film, providing plenty of voiceover insight, as well as face-to-face interview time. Her measured tone is a charming blend of confidence and humility. Though she isn’t outwardly funny, her dry humor makes for an enjoyable chat.” – J.R. Kinnard
  37. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (David Gelb, 2011)
  38. City of Gold (Laura Gabbert, 2015)
  39. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (Alison Klayman, 2012)
  40. Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat (Sara Driver, 2017)
  41. School Life (Neasa Ní Chianáin, 2016)
    “This is a film with tons of charm, from the kids rocking out while performing The Troggs and Ellie Goulding tunes and John’s discernible delight through his deadpan expression to Amanda spending time with her dogs and happening upon a student in the woods taking photographs to the co-ed adventures in the forts during playtime, and so much more. It’s a real joy to watch and invest in the characters.” – Christopher Campbell
  42. October Country (Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher, 2009)
  43. Dina (Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles, 2017)
  44. The Flat (Arnon Goldfinger, 2011)
  45. The Queen of Versailles (Lauren Greenfield, 2012)
  46. Kiki (Sara Jordenö, 2016)
    “Jordenö understands that her greatest strength is the way that her subjects present themselves, and the aesthetic choice to highlight portraiture is what elevates this particular film over other community-focused documentaries. Kiki is a smart, confident debut and a real credit to its polyphonic subject.” – Daniel Walber
  47. Step (Amanda Lipitz, 2017)
  48. Shut Up and Play the Hits (Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern, 2012)
  49. Last Days Here (Don Argott, Demian Fenton, 2011)
  50. Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (Sophie Fiennes, 2017)
    Bloodlight and Bami’s impressionistic context-eschewing approach might make some folks bristle. But this is Grace Jones’s life and we’re all just along for the ride, stepping to her time, flowing effortlessly from Patrois to English to French…Fiennes never tries to contort Jones into a narrative box just so that we can get a warped sense of ‘the real her.’ Instead, Bloodlight and Bami offers a hazy and yet utterly striking impression of a resilient Icon; a brush with something vibrant, raw, and eternal.” – Meg Shields

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.