100 Must-See Documentaries Streaming on Netflix This July

100 Must-See Documentaries Streaming on Netflix This Month

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

‘Chasing Coral’ (Netflix)

One perfect double feature is ruined this month, as Gasland has expired from streaming on Netflix, which means I kind of have to remove its counterpart, FrackNation, from our list of recommendations. However, another perfect double feature replaces that duo when Jeff Orlowski’s Chasing Coral, about negative changes to coral beds, premieres as a Netflix Original mid-month. I’ve added his decent but not otherwise essential Chasing Ice to go with it.

Other newcomers that I’ve added to the Netflix 100 include Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press, another Original, which I don’t love but believe is worth seeing for its important subject matter. There’s also the newly added Jackass Number Two, which is the only one of the Jackass prank and stunt films I’ve loved, primarily because of its homages to Buster Keaton and Busby Berkeley. Finally, Stanley Nelson’s primer The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution recently joined the streaming service.

They replace expired titles More Than Honey, The Farm: Angola USA, and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. Also worth noting: Touching the Void is apparently leaving on July 9th, but I’ve left it on the list for the month. Just be sure and see that as soon as possible.

Here is 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 Chasing Coral and Chasing Ice, 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. Chasing Coral (Jeff Orlowski, 2017) — Arrives 7/14
  2. Chasing Ice (Jeff Orlowski, 2012)
  3. Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press (Brian Knappenberger, 2017)
    Review by Christopher Campbell
  4. The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (Stanley Nelson, 2015)
    Review by Dan Schindel
  5. Jackass Number Two (Jeff Tremaine, 2006)
  6. Touching the Void (Kevin MacDonald, 2003) — Expires 7/9
  7. The Thin Blue Line (Errol Morris, 1988)
  8. Life Itself (Steve James, 2014)
  9. Stevie (Steve James, 2002)
  10. Brother’s Keeper (Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, 1992)
  11. Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (Nick Broomfield, 1992)
  12. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (Nick Broomfield, 2003)
  13. Paris is Burning (Jennie Livingston, 1990)
  14. The Look of Silence (Joshua Opppenheimer, 2014)
  15. Under the Sun (Vitaly Mansky, 2015)
  16. Super Size Me (Morgan Spurlock, 2004)
  17. Super High Me (Michael Blieden, 2007)
  18. Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog, 2007)
  19. Into the Inferno (Werner Herzog, 2016)
  20. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, 2010)
  21. Lessons of Darkness (Werner Herzog, 1992)
  22. Moana With Sound (Robert J. Flaherty, Frances Hubbard Flaherty and Monica Flaherty, 1926/1980)
  23. Finders Keepers (Bryan Carberry and J. Clay Tweel, 2015)
  24. In the Basement (Ulrich Seidl, 2014)
  25. Rats (Morgan Spurlock, 2016)
  26. The Nightmare (Rodney Ascher, 2015)
  27. Notes on Blindness (Peter Middleton and James Spinney, 2016)
    Review by Daniel Walber
  28. My Beautiful Broken Brain (Sophie Robinson and Lotje Sodderland, 2014)
  29. Particle Fever (Mark Levinson, 2013)
  30. Inside Job (Charles Ferguson, 2010)
  31. Casting By (Tom Donahue, 2012)
  32. Lost in La Mancha (Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe, 2002)
  33. The Imposter (Bart Layton, 2012)
  34. Jesus Camp (Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, 2006)
  35. Why We Fight: Prelude to War (Frank Capra and Anatole Litvak, 1942)
  36. Why We Fight: The Battle of Russia (Frank Capra and Anatole Litvak, 1943)
  37. How to Operate Behind Enemy Lines (John Ford, 1943)
  38. Report from the Aleutians (John Huston, 1943)
  39. Tunisian Victory (Frank Capra, Hugh Stewart, and John Huston, 1944)
  40. The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (William Wyler, 1944)
  41. Know Your Enemy (Frank Capra and Joris Ivens, 1945)
  42. Nazi Concentration Camps (George Stevens, 1945)
  43. Let There Be Light (John Huston, 1946)
  44. Best of Enemies (Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville, 2015)
  45. Stray Dog (Debra Granik, 2014)
  46. Little Dieter Needs to Fly (Werner Herzog, 1997)
  47. Last Days in Vietnam (Rory Kennedy, 2014)
  48. 1971 (Johanna Hamilton, 2014)
  49. The Trials of Muhammad Ali (Bill Siegel, 2013)
  50. 13th (Ava DuVernay, 2016)
  51. God Grew Tired of Us: The Story of Lost Boys of Sudan (Christopher Dillon Quinn and Tommy Walker, 2006)
  52. Virunga (Orlando von Einsiedel, 2014)
  53. The Ivory Game (Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani, 2016)
  54. How to Survive a Plague (David France, 2012)
  55. We Were Here (David Weissman and Bill Weber, 2011)
  56. GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (Brett Whitcomb, 2012)
    Capsule review by Christopher Campbell
  57. Sunshine Superman (Marah Strauch, 2014)
  58. Undefeated (Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin, 2011)
  59. Rich Hill (Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos, 2014)
  60. The Overnighters (Jesse Moss, 2014)
  61. Vernon, Florida (Errol Morris, 1981)
  62. The Chinese Mayor (Hao Zhou, 2015)
  63. Street Fight (Marshall Curry, 2005)
  64. Get Me Roger Stone (Dylan Bank, Daniel DiMauro, Morgan Pehme, 2017)
  65. Democrats (Camilla Nielsson, 2014)
  66. The Square (Jehane Noujaim, 2013)
  67. Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom (Evgeny Afineevsky, 2015)
  68. Fire at Sea (Gianfranco Rosi, 2016)
  69. Sacro GRA (Gianfranco Rosi, 2013)
    Review by Daniel Walber
  70. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (Alex Gibney, 2005)
  71. Evolution of a Criminal (Darius Clark Monroe, 2014)
  72. Oklahoma City (Barak Goodman, 2017)
  73. (T)error (Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe, 2015)
  74. Tower (Keith Maitland, 2016)
  75. Dirty Wars (Rick Rowley, 2013)
  76. Of Men and War (Laurent Becue-Renard, 2014)
  77. Homeland: Iraq Year Zero (Abbas Fahdel, 2016)
  78. Trapped (Dawn Porter, 2016)
  79. Growing Up Coy (Eric Juhola, 2016)
  80. Presenting Princess Shaw (Ido Haar, 2015)
  81. What Happened, Miss Simone? (Liz Garbus, 2015)
  82. Miss Sharon Jones! (Barbara Kopple, 2015)
  83. Beware of Mr. Baker (Jay Bulger, 2012)
  84. Anvil! The Story of Anvil (Sacha Gervasi, 2008)
  85. Kurt & Courtney (Nick Broomfield, 1998)
  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. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (Alison Klayman, 2012)
  92. Hooligan Sparrow (Nanfu Wang, 2016)
  93. Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower (Joe Piscatella, 2017)
  94. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (David Gelb, 2011)
  95. LoveTrue (Alma Har’el, 2016)
  96. Tabloid (Errol Morris, 2010)
  97. Amanda Knox (Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn, 2016)
  98. The Witness (James D. Solomon, 2015)
  99. Casting JonBenet (Kitty Green, 2017)
  100. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (Kurt Kuenne, 2008)

And here are the seven must-see documentary miniseries and series:

  1. The Keepers (Ryan White, 2017)
  2. The Civil War (Ken Burns, 1990)
  3. Prohibition (Ken Burns, 2011)
  4. The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (Ken Burns, 2014)
  5. Making a Murderer (Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi, 2015)
  6. Planet Earth (Alastair Fothergill, 2006)
  7. Five Came Back (Laurent Bouzereau, 2017)

And here are the seven must-see documentary shorts:

  1. The Battle of Midway (John Ford, 1942)
  2. The Negro Soldier (Stuart Heisler, 1944)
  3. San Pietro (John Ford, 1945)
  4. Thunderbolt (John Sturges and William Wyler, 1947)
  5. White Earth (Christian Jensen, 2014)
  6. The White Helmets (Orlando von Einsiedel, 2016)
  7. Extremis (Dan Krauss, 2016)

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.