The 100 Most Necessary Documentaries to Stream On Netflix This August

Hoop Dreams

Rather than update our original list of the 100 Best Documentaries on Netflix whenever a film expires or is added (as I said we would), we’d actually like to post a new version each month to keep things tidy and less confusing. And to make it even nicer for all of you, we’re going to note everything that has joined or left the guide.

For this month’s update to our list of the 100 most necessary documentaries to stream on Netflix, we’ve added nine titles. Most of them are recent new additions to the service, but there’s also Ken Burns’s The Civil War, which we wrongly thought expired last month (along with most of the filmmaker’s other works). We’ve also included Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, because the subject died last month, switching out the somewhat similar Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. Also, for some reason we didn’t already have i on here (it’s on our list of best docs about the Internet) and felt the need since it’s leaving Netflix on August 16th. Halfway through the month you can switch it out for the series Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey, which comes to Netflix on

The newly added titles are Particle Fever, War Don Don, Maidentrip, Gideon’s Army, FrackNation, After Tiller and Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil le Clercq. Of course they had to take the place of some films that expired or that we simply had to take out ourselves. The former include (spot the theme) Iraq in Fragments and No End in Sight. The latter includes Cool It, Last Call at the Oasis, Hit So Hard, Beware of Mr. Baker, How to Grow a Band, Last Days Here and Brooklyn Castle. No offense to any of these. We still recommend them. Just think of it as this: wow, there are even more than 100 great docs streaming on Netflix.

Now a reminder of how the 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 — the Up installments are of varied quality, for instance, but they should be seen in order. 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 (Dogtown and Z-Boys and This Ain’t California and The Act of Killing and Camp 14, for two example sets) and some grouping where I truly think the higher ranking title is best watched before a certain title or titles below it.

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.