10 Must See Documentaries

I don’t often reference modern culture because so much of it seems unworthy of and so many have already had something to say about it. Still there are aspects that not only capture my attention, but leave me speechless. Especially when it comes to film. I’ve been a big fan of the documentary genre because the truth is far more fascinating than any fiction and it offers us a glance into the lives of others. There is something to be said for people who not only have a story to tell, but do it well.

I was watching one of these last night, so caught up in the story line and character development that as it neared the end I didn’t want to see these people go. I had been completely immersed in their world and their particular path that I knew it was going to be a let down to see it come to an end. I thought back on some of the other films that had the same impact and thought I’d come up with one of my Top Five lists and couldn’t get it winnowed down to anything less than 10. Sop as an early Christmas offering, please accept my Top Ten Documentaries and consider watching at least one of them whenever you find the time.


This story of four recent college graduates riding a string of mustangs from Mexico to Canada in order to bring attention to the cause of wild horses in the American west is a blend of travelogue and coming of age. Interviews with prominent figures in both the private and public sector as well as breathtaking shots of an American landscape few people will ever get to see is worth the investment of two plus hours. The bonus is the developing relationships between domesticated men and wild horses that becomes something so deep and abiding that the dialogue begins to drop off to nothing while communicating volumes. This is a beautiful film.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

If you love food, love the pursuit of excellence and love a perspective that you are unlikely to experience in your life, this is the documentary for you. How do you begin to sell the idea of watching someone talk about and make sushi for close to two hours, let alone make it? This is the answer. An awe inspiring in depth look into the life of one of the worlds most accomplished artisans and the cost of that pursuit.

Eat The Sun

People who stare at the Sun. Sounds like you could tell that story by a visit to a home for the blind, but you’d be surprised. This is one unusual and compelling story that crosses from hard to believe to impossible to doubt. What could be a ridiculous study of new-age hocus pocus is instead an in depth study of mankind’s long fascination with the source of all life and a deeper connection that we may not yet understand.

Resurrect Dead The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles

This unusual and slightly creepy film about a series of mysterious tiles embedded in the streets of numerous American cities is as much about what we don’t know as what we discover when we try to find an answer. Riveting and in the end it leaves us with more questions than it answers.

Steak (R)evolution

The search for the best steak on Earth. Need I say more? I loved this movie not because it celebrates what I do, but because it elevates what others do even better. An amazing movie, but vegans may want to give this one a pass. Be ready to head out to the nearest steakhouse after watching this film, it was all I could think about for days.

Food, Inc.

Do you eat food? Then you should have to watch this film. It is a shocking film for those who are unaware of the modern industrialized food systems that feed America and a clarion call for action to those who no longer wish to support it. And it’s got the folksy wisdom of Joel Salatin, an American folk hero of farming.

History of the Eagles

On the surface this is a fan type documentary for those who love the iconic American band The Eagles, but once it takes off it’s an in depth look at the American Dream and all that it entails- the gains and losses, the sacrifice and the success, the loyalty and betrayals wrapped up in a neat package. There is a singular scene about song writing featuring Jackson Browne that I must have watched 10 times that is so mesmerizing, so philosophical and at the same time so workman-like in it’s simplicity that it could serve as a course of study for any discipline. A definite must-see film.


This is a compelling combination of a wildlife documentary and a true crime story intertwined in the bigger story of an iconic American company, it’s brand and what executives are willing to do in order to preserve their bottom line.

Waco: The Rules of Engagement

What compelled the US Government to not only isolate and then attack the Branch Davidian church in Waco, Texas, but then actively cover-up and lie about it? There can be no doubt after viewing this film what your government is capable of doing, but what it has done and got away with. A thought provoking and disturbing analysis of a government so arrogant and thoughtless that it justified the murder of men, women and children who had never been convicted of a crime.

Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey

Wow. Just wow. If there is a more rags to riches story ever told I haven’t heard it. When Mega-Band Journey lost it’s lead singer it found the replacement in a poor, unemployed karaoke singer from Manila named Arnel Pineda. I’m not a huge fan of the music, but it is iconic enough to be familiar to most Americans and seeing the rise of this young man from destitution to stardom made up for the soundtrack. If you like their music, you’ll love it.


« Next | Previous »
comments powered by Disqus