Top and Best Documentaries on Netflix sorted by IMDB Ratings

Netflix is among the most favorite OTT platforms of people across the globe. With good movies, documentaries, and drama series, the platform has gained a huge viewer base in a short time. Documentaries are nonfiction movies or series of movies that document the real world. In recent years, people have started appreciating more documentaries, that document true events. Ever wondered what are the best documentaries on Netflix? If you have, then this article is the perfect answer for you. From among the most popular documentaries, we have compiled a list of the 25+ top and best documentaries on Netflix. Furthermore, we have also included the trailers and direct links to the Netflix website so you can easily access your favorite documentary from the list. Read on for a ravishing experience! Here is a list of Best Documentaries on Netflix sorted by IMDB Ratings and reviews for you:

Table of Contents

Best Documentaries on Netflix

Disclaimer: This list is frequently updated to make sure you are served with fresh content. The order of the movies and series are sorted as per the user ratings and reviews on the Internet. The order of documentaries on this list is based on ratings from low to high, with the highest rating show at the end. If you are looking for details of a specific documentary movie or show on the list, you can quickly navigate to that particular documentary show or movie by clicking the link in the list given above. In case you feel like we missed out on of your favorite documentaries, comment below to let us know!

Best Documentaries on Netflix
Best Documentaries on Netflix. Image by Godofsmallthing

Quincy (2018)

IMDB Ratings: 7.6/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%

Best Documentaries on Netflix Quincy
Best Documentaries on Netflix Quincy

Cast: Quincy Jones, Rashida Jones, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Clarence Avant, Chloe Bailey, Halle Bailey, Tony Bennett, Beyoncé, Lina Bielsten.

Quincy is an American documentary film that revolves around the life of Quincy Jones. Jones is a well-known singer, record producer, and film producer of America. Co-directed by Rashida Jones, the daughter of Quincy Jones, the film walks us through the ups and downs of Jones’ life and career. According to the film’s epilogue, Jones has recorded over 2900 songs, 300 albums, and 51 film and television scores. He has also composed over 1000 original works. For his outstanding musical contribution, he won 27 Grammy awards and 79 Grammy nominations. He also a special place as one among the only 18 EGOT winners. An EGOT winner is a person who has won all four of the honors: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards. Jones is also a humanitarian and philanthropist who raised $63 million for feminine relief in Africa.

Quincy had a special screening at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2018. It was then released on the original network of Netflix later that month. The documentary film received universal acclaim. It won several accolades like the Grammy Award for Best Music Film, the Black Reel Award for Outstanding Documentary, and the AAFCA’s (African American Film Critics Association) Top Ten List of films. It is one of the inspiring and best documentaries to watch on Netflix for everyone alike.

Watch Quincy trailer:

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (2020)

IMDB Ratings: 7.6/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%

Netflix Documentaries Tiger King
Netflix Documentaries Tiger King

Cast: John Reinke, Kelci Saffery, John Finlay, Rick Kirkham, Carole Baskin, Joe Exotic, Erik Cowie, Bhagavan Antle, Howard Baskin, Eric Goode.

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness is an American true crime docuseries that revolves around the life of Joe Exotic. Joe Exotic is a former zoo operator and convicted felon. As you watch it, you realize one thing for sure: it is one crazy ride from beginning to end. It talks about the deeply interconnected society of big cat conservationists and collectors in America. Joe Exotic is a bizarre owner of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma. Carole Baskin is the CEO of the Big Cat Rescue in Florida who presents herself as an animal rights activist. Baskin accuses Exotic of exploiting and abusing wild animals. However, Exotic maintains that she is just a competitive zookeeper who wants to eliminate him, her rival. The docuseries also introduces other members from the exotic animal community like Bhagavan Antle, Mario Tabraue, Jeff Lowe, and James Garretson.

This Netflix best documentary series was released on the platform between March and April of the year 2020. It is one of the most-watched documentaries on Netflix, with a viewership of 34.3 million in the first ten days of release. It met with positive acclaim from viewers and critics, and went on to bag several accolades including six award nominations at the Primetime Emmy Awards in 2020.

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Watch Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness trailer:

The Social Dilemma (2020)

IMDB Ratings: 7.7/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%

Popular Documentaries on Netflix The Social Dilemma
Popular Documentaries on Netflix The Social Dilemma

Cast: Tristan Harris, Jeff Seibert, Bailey Richardson, Joe Toscano, Sandy Parakilas, Guillaume Chaslot, Lynn Fox, Aza Raskin, Alex Roetter.

The Social Dilemma is a docudrama film that discusses one of the most pertinent concerns of today: the negative influence of social media on the human world. It talks of internet addiction, promotion of conspiracy theories, and manipulation and uses in politics, among others. Shedding light on its effect on the psychology of children, teens, and everyone in general, the film covers the importance of keeping a check on social media usage. Numerous former employees, executives, and professionals from world-famous tech companies come ahead to share their opinions in the film. They educate the common man on how social media is designed to nurture an addiction in the human mind. They also tell us about countermeasures that can help save the world from a definite crisis.

Undoubtedly one of the best documentaries on Netflix, The Social Dilemma met with universal acclaim for its comprehensive and honest narrative of the reality of social media platforms. It was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020. Later, it was released on the Netflix Original platform in September that year. It received numerous prestigious honors including the Impact Film Award at the Boulder International Film Festival. Award nominations include the Cinema Eye Honors Awards, US, Chicago Film Critics Association awards, and Critics’ Choice Documentary awards. A powerful film that will make you rethink your online habits, it is a must-watch documentary on Netflix for one and all.

If you are interested in crime shows and are looking for the best ones on Netflix, you are in the right place! Here is a list of shows specially made for you, The Best Crime Shows on Netflix sorted by IMDB ratings

Watch The Social Dilemma trailer:

Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)

IMDB Ratings: 7.7/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

Documentaries to watch on Netflix
Jim and Andy The Great Beyond

Cast: Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Milos Forman, Peter Bonerz, Paul Giamatti, Ron Meyer, George Shapiro, Judd Hirsch, Carol Kane, Dotan Bonen.

Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond is a 2017 American documentary. It chronicles actor Jim Carrey’s transformation into Andy Kauffman, the legendary performance artist, and comedian, in the movie, Man on the Moon. The film uses the original footage from the set of the 1999 movie and Carrey’s present-day interviews where he reminisces his transformation. Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond is a Netflix Original film released in November 2017. It is one of the most loved documentaries on the streaming platform.

The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2017, before its Netflix release in November of the same year. It opened to positive reviews from viewers for its entertainment element. Some of the many accolades bagged by the film include the Primetime Emmy Awards, Golden Trail awards, Phoenix Film Critics Society awards, Empire Awards, UK, and Cinema Eye Honors Awards, US. If you loved Carrey’s clever performance in the movie Man on the Moon, you’ll definitely enjoy this amazing documentary!

Watch Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond trailer:

Salt Fat Acid Heat (2018)

IMDB Ratings: 7.7/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Netflix Documentaries Salt Fat Acid King
Netflix Documentaries Salt Fat Acid Heat

Cast: Samin Nosrat.

Salt Fat Acid Heat is a 2018 cooking documentary series. It features Samin Nosrat, an American chef and food writer who travels across the world to explore the elements of successful cooking. It is based on the book, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of good cooking penned by Nosrat herself. According to Nosrat, the four elements of all successful cooking are the right amount of salt, fat, acid, and heat. In each of the four episodes, Nosrat explores one of the four elements and demonstrates how it is used in good cooking. Every episode features a distinctive local cuisine of one particular location.

In the first episode, Nosrat focuses on the element: Fat. She travels to Italy and discusses the role of fats in Italian cuisine in this episode. In the second episode, she discusses the element: Salt, by exploring the traditional Japanese cuisine and the role of salt in it. The next episode talks of the element: Acid, while taking us through the realms of Mexican cuisine. In the final episode, Nosrat discusses the final element: Heat, while at the first restaurant she worked at, in California.

Salt Fat Acid Heat is one of the most popular documentaries on Netflix. It is a visual treat for all those who love culinary art. Earning high critical acclaim, this American documentary series has won many award nominations including the Television Critics Association awards and the Cinema Eye Honors Awards, US.

Watch Salt Fat Acid Heat trailer:

Athlete A (2020)

IMDB Ratings: 7.7/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Top Documentaries on Netflix Athlete A
Top Documentaries on Netflix Athlete A

Cast: Maggie Nichols, Gina Nichols, John Nichols, Steve Berta, Marisa Kwiatkowski, Mark Alesia, Rachael Denhollander, Jessica Howard, Jamie Dantzscher.

Athlete A is an American documentary film that released on the Netflix Original network in June 2020. A group of journalists from The Indianapolis Star, a morning daily in Indiana, investigate and expose Larry Nassar, a gymnastics doctor, who assaulted several young female gymnasts. The investigation uncovered the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal which took place in the United States for over two decades. The film documents the story of the victims who survived the assaults and the reporters who exposed the serial rapist. Created by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, it is a heart-breaking, shocking documentary, and yet, brave and laudable for its execution.

The documentary film found universal acclaim for its powerful narrative. It was awarded with the Critics’ Choice Documentary Award in two categories while having been nominated for three others. Other accolades include awards and nominations at the Alliance of Women Film Journalists and Indiana Film Journalists Association, US. It is among the best executed Netflix documentaries of all time that are based on true crime.

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Conversations with a killer: The Ted Bundy tapes (2019)

IMDB Ratings: 7.8/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 56%

Best Documentaries to Watch
Best Documentaries to Watch Conversations with a Killer

Cast: Stephen Michaud, Bob Keppel, Kathleen McChesney, Ward Lucas, Hugh Aynesworth, Marlin Lee Vortman, Bruce Lubeck, Carol DaRonch, Charles Leidner.

Ted Bundy was one of the most notorious serial killers that America had ever seen. Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy tapes give a detailed look into the life of the serial killer. The documentary series chronicles through the original archival footage of Bundy, before his execution. It was during this time that Bundy confessed to killing around thirty women in his lifetime. Handsome by appearance, Bundy used this to his advantage to make female acquaintances and then abuse and kill them. All that glitters is not gold, huh? The series also documents interviews of his family, friends, surviving victims, witnesses, journalists, and the officials who worked on his case. This chilling docuseries cover traces of Bundy’s early life, crimes including the Chi Omega homicide, his escapes, trials, and death.

Over 100 hours of interviews went into the creation of this 4-hour miniseries. It was released on the Netflix Original network in January 2019, thirty years after the execution of the serial killer. The series met with generally positive reviews from critics. It has bagged many awards and nominations like the Primetime Emmy awards, Critics’ Choice Real TV awards and Realscreen awards. Without doubt, it is one of top documentaries on Netflix in the true crime genre.

Watch Conversations with a killer: The Ted Bundy tapes trailer:

Ugly Delicious (2018)

IMDB Ratings: 7.8/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Best Documentaries to watch on Netflix
Best Documentaries to watch on Netflix Ugly Delicious

Cast: David Chang, Peter Meehan, Aziz Ansari, Rene Redzepi, David Choe, Fuchsia Dunlop, Jonathan Gold, Walter Green, David Simon, Alan Yang.

Ugly Delicious is a 2018 food and travel documentary series. It focuses on the elements of food and the culinary cultures of different regions across the world and their history. David Chang, an American restaurateur, and television personality is the host of the series. In every episode, one particular popular dish or concept is chosen. The cultural, sociological, and culinary history of this specific food across different regions is then discussed in detail. In two seasons and twelve episodes, the series has covered many world-famous food concepts. These include pizza, tacos, steak, Viet-Cajun cuisine, Korean barbecue, Nashville hot chicken, Chinese cuisine, and Indian cuisine, among others.

One of the most loved and popular documentaries on Netflix, the series premiered on the platform in February 2018. It met with positive reviews and ratings from critics and viewers across the globe. Ugly Delicious is widely appreciated for its distinctive concept and execution. It bagged an award nomination under the category of Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series or Special at the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards. If you are a food lover curious to know about the origin and history of your favourite foods, then Ugly Delicious will serve as a delicious treat for you!

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Crip Camp (2020)

IMDB Ratings: 7.8/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

New Documentaries on Netflix Crip Camp
New Documentaries on Netflix Crip Camp

Cast: Larry Allison, Dennis Billups, William Bronston, George Bush, Joseph A. Califano, Jimmy Carter, Kitty Cone, Ann Cupolo Freeman, Nanci D’Angelo.

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution is an American documentary that features Camp Jened, a 1971 summer camp in New York. It is described as a “loose, free-spirited camp designed for teens with disabilities”. This camp became the foundation for the disability rights movement and the independent living movement in the United States of America. The film features many activists and campers including Judith Heumann, Larry Allison, James LeBrecht, Stephen Hofmann, and Denise Sherer Jacobson who fought for their rights and accessibility legislation. The Higher Ground Production, founded by former US President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama are the executive producers of the film.

The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020, and won the Audience Award at the Festival. It was released on the Netflix platform in March of the same year. It met with high critical acclaim for the inspiring and remarkable story that it brings to light. Crip Camp went on to be honored with many accolades including the Zeno Mountain Award at the Miami International Film Festival. It was a nominee for the Best Documentary Feature at the Critics’ Choice Awards in 2020. Other honors include the Cinema Eye Honors awards, US, and the Pare Lorentz Award of the International Documentary Association.

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The Game Changers (2018)

IMDB Ratings: 7.9/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 70%

Best Documentaries to watch The Game Changers
Best Documentaries to watch The Game Changers

Cast: James Wilks, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Patrik Baboumian, Dotsie Bausch, Tia Blanco, Nimai Delgado, Rip Esselstyn, Kendrick Farris, Mischa Janiec.

The Game Changers is an American documentary film that discusses the benefits of following a plant-based diet for athletes, and everyone in general. James Wilks, a former participant of the Ultimate Fighting Championship conducts research in nutrition while recovering from an injury. He explores the opinions and experiences of various famous athletes and sportspersons who follow a plant-based diet plan. He concludes with the help of these interviews and other scientific studies that the plant-based diet is highly beneficial for athletes. Some of the well-known athletes interviewed in the documentary include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dotsie Bausch, Patrik Baboumian, and Morgan Mitchell.   

The documentary film was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2018. It met with appreciation by viewers and critics. It was endorsed by noted health organizations including the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. The film was nominated under the category of Audience Award at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. It is one of the few must-watch, thought-provoking documentaries on Netflix.

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Death on the Staircase (2004)

IMDB Ratings: 7.9/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

Best Documentaries to watch on Netflix Death on the Staircase
Death on the Staircase

Cast: Michael Peterson, David Rudolf, Ron Guerette, Martha Ratliff, Orlando Hudson, Clayton Peterson, Todd Peterson, Margaret Ratliff, Tom Maher.

The Staircase or Death on the Staircase as it is more popularly known is a French television documentary. It features the trial and conviction of Michael Peterson, an American novelist who was charged with murdering his wife, Kathleen Peterson. The incident took place in December 2001. Michael Peterson reported the death of his wife after falling down a series of stairs in their mansion. Although he alleged that she was drunk and fell down the stairs, the authorities disbelieved this theory and booked Peterson for murder based on circumstantial evidence. The documentary is narrated from the perspective of Peterson and his defense team headed by David Rudolf.

The documentary miniseries was first premiered on Canal+, a French premium television channel in 2004. It continued to premiere on the channel, between the years from 2004 to 2013. The final three episodes were aired on Netflix in 2018. It is one of the popular documentaries on Netflix, with positive reviews from critics. Some of the many awards that Death on the Staircase was bestowed upon include the Peabody Award in 2005 and the International Documentary Association Award under the category of Limited Series the same year. It is an ideal pick among the best documentaries on Netflix if you love watching crime and thriller series.

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Icarus (2017)

IMDB Ratings: 7.9/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

Top Documentaries on Netflix Icarus
Top Documentaries on Netflix Icarus

Cast: Bryan Fogel, Dave Zabriskie, Don Catlin, Grigory Rodchenkov, Scott Brandt, Ben Stone, Richard Pound, Richard McLaren, Nikita Kamaev.

Icarus is an American documentary movie that discusses doping or the illegal use of athletic performance-enhancing drugs in the field of sports. Bryan Fogel, a filmmaker who is the director of this documentary, sets out on an exploration about the doping option to win a cycling race. He soon happens to discover a huge international doping scandal. With the help of a Russian scientist, Fogel proves that the current method in which athletes are tested for drugs is not sufficient to detect drugs in their system. The film succeeds to uncover one of the biggest sports scandals in history.

Icarus premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2017. Later, Netflix acquired its distribution rights and it became available on the platform in August 2017. With positive responses from critics and viewers, the documentary film won several prestigious accolades. These include the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award, the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 90th Academy Awards, the Primetime Emmy awards and the BAFTA awards, to name a few. It is undoubtedly a must-see documentary for all sports enthusiasts.

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Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer (2019)

IMDB Ratings: 8/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 67%

Popular Documentaries on Netflix
Don’t F**k With Cats

Cast: Deanna Thompson, John Green, Claudette Hamlin, Antonio Paradiso, Anna Yourkin, Benjamin Xu, Marc Lilge, Mike Nadeau, Joe Panz.

Don’t f**k with cats: Hunting an internet killer is an American crime documentary series that aired on the Netflix Original network in 2019. It features a true online manhunt for a Canadian, Luka Magnotta, following his gruesome animal cruelty acts. He gained international notoriety for posting a graphic video on an online website that featured him killing two kittens. Following this incident in 2010, he was later convicted for the murder of Jun Lin, a Chinese international student in 2012. The documentary talks about the events in which a group of amateur internet detectives investigated and launched a manhunt to capture Magnotta.

One of the best Netflix documentaries from the crime genre, it was one among the top 5 most-watched documentaries on Netflix in the year 2019. Some of the accolades that the series took home include the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, the British Academy Television Craft awards, and the British Academy Television Awards. If you enjoy watching documentaries of the thriller and true crime genre, you will definitely love this masterpiece of a documentary.

Watch Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer trailer:

The Keepers (2017)

IMDB Ratings: 8.1/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

Best Documentaries on Netflix The Keepers
Best Documentaries on Netflix The Keepers

Cast: Gemma Hoskins, Abbie Schaub, Virginia Anzengruber, Jean Hargadon Wehner, Tom Nugent, Teresa Lancaster, Bob Erlandson, Gerry Koob, Lil Hughes Knipp.

The Keepers is a dark and chilling crime documentary series that explores the events and circumstances related to the murder of Catherine Cesnik. Cesnik was a Catholic religious sister who worked as an English and drama teacher at Baltimore’s all-girls Archbishop Keough High School. One sudden day in November 1969, she disappeared. Two months later, her body was discovered near a garbage dump. Apparently, Joseph Maskell, a priest at the school, used to sexually abuse the female students, and killed Cesnik, when she was about to report this to the higher authorities. However, the perpetrators behind the crime have not yet been found, and the murder remains unsolved to this day. The series aims at finding answers by investigating the mysterious murder; or rather, the cover-up of the murder.

A crime documentary that sends shivers to the spine, The Keepers is sure to keep you engrossed to the end. Consisting of a single season with seven episodes, the series aired on the Netflix Original network in May 2017. It has ever since met with a positive response from viewers. Critics praised the series for the powerful narrative of a terrorizing story with added mystery. One of the best documentaries to watch on Netflix, it was won and been nominated for numerous prestigious awards like the Primetime Emmy Awards, the Critics’ Choice Documentary awards, the Golden Trailer awards, and the Cinema Eye Honours awards to name a few.

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Dirty Money (2018)

IMDB Ratings: 8.1/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Popular Documentaries on Netflix Dirty Money
Popular Documentaries on Netflix Dirty Money

Cast: Matt Taibbi, Alex Gibney, Anabel Hernández, Fahmi Quadir, Fisher Stevens, Simon Trépanier, Scott Tucker, Rachel Aviv.

Dirty Money is an American documentary television series that airs on Netflix from 2018 to the present time. The show, like the name suggests, focuses on the filthy transactions of money in the form of corporate corruption. It discusses different instances of corporate crime and corruption, stock fraud and investment fraud, and creative accounting practices, in each episode. In a total of twelve episodes in two seasons to date, the series has featured infamous corporate crimes like the Volkswagen emissions scandal and the Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist among others. It is a gripping documentary to watch on Netflix if you are keen on the corporate world and stock market shows.

The Netflix documentary series was well received by critics and the audience in general, for the informative narrative style and strong theme. It was nominated for the Best Limited Documentary Series at Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards held in 2018.

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The Toys That Made Us (2017)

IMDB Ratings: 8.1/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Documentaries to watch on Netflix The Toys That Made Us
Documentaries to watch on Netflix The Toys That Made Us

Cast: Donald Ian Black, Mark Bellomo, David Vonner, Kirk Bozigian, James Eatock, Mark Taylor, Jordan Bryce, Margo Dane, John Tenuto.

Remember your cute little toys from childhood? The Barbie dolls and the Teddy bear and the Lego sets and the Hot Wheels cars… Oh my God! Those beautiful days… We might have given away most of these toys or lost them perhaps, and long-forgotten them when more important things occupied our lives. But we can all admit one thing; these toys played a major role in molding us as individuals. If you did feel something for your beloved toys from childhood, you will definitely appreciate this documentary on Netflix: The Toys That Made Us.

The American docu-series takes you on a ride through the history and creation of all the popular toys from the 70s onward. Some of these include the Star Wars action figures, the He-Man franchise, the Barbie dolls, the G.I. Joe action figures, the Lego sets, the Transformers franchise, the Hello Kitty, the Star Trek franchise, the Power Rangers franchise, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. The series consists of three seasons, the first of which premiered in December 2017 on the Original network of Netflix. It is one of the most loved and best documentaries to watch on Netflix, as it promises a funny, nostalgic trip through the best years of your childhood.

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Cheer (2020)

IMDB Ratings: 8.2/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

New Documentaries on Netflix Cheer
New Documentaries on Netflix Cheer

Cast: Monica Aldama, Lexi Brumback, Gabi Butler, Jerry Harris, La’Darius Marshall, Morgan Simianer, Shannon Woolsey.

Cheer is an American documentary series that features the Navarro College Bulldogs Cheer Team competing in the National Cheerleading Championship held in Florida annually. The team, which hails from Corsicana, Texas, and guided by coach Monica Aldama, ranks among the top cheerleading teams in the nation. Their rival team is the cheer team from Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas. The series is divided into six parts and revolves around the team members of the Cheer team, the history of cheerleading, and the NCA (National Cheerleaders Association). One can most certainly say that the documentary does justice to the activity of cheerleading in every aspect.

The documentary series that aired on the Netflix Original platform in January 2020, is one of the most appreciated Netflix documentaries. Capturing every high and low that a cheerleader has to face to reach the top, the series met with critical acclaim for the theme and direction. It has won three awards and been nominated for three others, at the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards held in 2020. Other honors that it took home include the Television Critics Association Awards and a nomination at the People’s Choice Awards. Among the popular documentaries on Netflix, this one is surely an inspiring entertainer.

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Five Came Back (2017)

IMDB Ratings: 8.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

Top Documentaries on Netflix Five Came Back
Top Documentaries on Netflix Five Came Back

Cast: Francis Ford Coppola, Guillermo del Toro, Paul Greengrass, Lawrence Kasdan, Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep.

Five Came Back is an American documentary movie inspired by the book, Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War, penned by Mark Harris, an American journalist. John Ford, William Wyler, Frank Capra, George Stevens, and John Huston were five film directors who worked to document the Second World War. The documentary contains over 100 hours of archival footage from the war. Paul Greengrass, Steven Spielberg, Lawrence Kasdan, Francis Ford Coppola, and Guillermo del Toro are five modern filmmakers who discuss each of the works of the five wartime directors. The series is narrated by Meryl Streep, one of the most popular and best actresses in Hollywood. In the series, you can also watch the 13 documentaries which are the primary works of historic film directors.

One of the best documentaries on Netflix with the theme of history and Hollywood, Five Came Back met with great reception from critics and viewers. It is noted for the honest narrative of the real and stunning events from the war. The series has won and been nominated for several prestigious honors like the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, Golden Trailer awards, and the American Cinema Editors awards. If you are curious to know more about world history, this series is an ideal entertainer for you.

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13th (2016)

IMDB Ratings: 8.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

Netflix Documentaries 13th
Netflix Documentaries 13th

Cast: Melina Abdullah, Michelle Alexander, Cory Booker, Dolores Canales, Gina Clayton, Jelani Cobb, Malkia Cyril, Angela Davis, Craig DeRoche, David Dinkins.

13th is an eye-opening documentary film by Ava DuVernay. The movie discusses the wrongful incarceration of people on the basis of their race, in the United States. The title of the movie points to the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which ended slavery in the nation, which came into action in 1865. Putting some light on the history of racial inequality, the film points out how the prisons in the nation are disproportionately filled with African-American prisoners. Several known activists, politicians, and scholars analyze the situation and express their opinions on this type of criminalization, in the documentary.

The movie was aired on the Netflix Original platform in October 2016. It met with universal acclaim, owing to the extraordinary topic that it discusses, as also its truthful portrayal of the facts. It is regarded as one of the best movies of the year. 13th took home numerous accolades including the British Academy Film Awards, the Primetime Emmy Awards, and the Peabody awards, to name a few. Additionally, it was nominated for the Academy Award under the category of Best Documentary Feature. It goes without saying that this film is one of the top documentaries on Netflix.

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My Octopus Teacher (2020)

IMDB Ratings: 8.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Best Documentaries to watch	My Octopus Teacher
Best Documentaries to watch My Octopus Teacher

Cast: Craig Foster, Tom Foster

In case you are looking for something out of the box, here’s an amazing documentary to watch on Netflix: My Octopus Teacher. This Netflix Original movie stands out from the rest because of its uniquely intriguing storyline. It is a documentary of a complete year spent by Craig Foster, a South African documentary filmmaker, in a cold underwater kelp forest in South Africa. Here, Foster meets a curious little octopus with whom he gradually forms a friendship. The film tells us about the relationship of Foster with the octopus, and how the creature creates a major impact on his life. Foster accredits the octopus for teaching him the fragility of life as well as the connection of a human being with nature.

With a warm plotline and an inspiring message that it leaves behind, My Octopus Teacher is indubitably one of the best nature documentaries to watch on Netflix. The film’s release took place in September 2020 on the Netflix Original network. Without a doubt, the film bagged a lot of accolades, including the Critics’ Choice Documentary Award under the categories of Best Cinematography and Best Science/Nature Documentary. It also had eight award nominations at the Jackson Wild Media awards. This one is a must-watch amongst the new documentaries on Netflix if you have an affinity toward nature.

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Formula 1: Drive to Survive (2019)

IMDB Ratings: 8.6/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

Best Documentaries to watch on Netflix
Best Documentaries to watch on Netflix Formula 1 Drive To Survive

Cast: Valtteri Bottas, Will Buxton, Pierre Gasly, Romain Grosjean, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hülkenberg, Charles Leclerc, Kevin Magnussen, Sergio Pérez.

If you are a car racing fan, then you’ve definitely heard of Formula One. The world championships held by Formula One are famous across the globe. In the creation of Formula 1: Drive to Survive, the Formula One Group joined hands with Netflix to give us a detailed view of the races and the events that occur behind the scenes. There are two seasons of this documentary series on Netflix, which are based on the 2018 and 2019 Formula One World Championships respectively. Each season, which has ten episodes, takes us on a ride down the experiences of the world’s fastest drivers, their teams, owners as well as management team.

The first season that features the 2018 Formula One World Championship was released on the Netflix Original network in March 2019. Subsequently, the second season that focuses on the 2019 Championship was released in February 2020. It is one of the best documentaries to watch on Netflix for viewers who are passionate about car racing and sports. Gaining high acclaim from critics and viewers, the series has been the recipient for several accolades like BAFTA Television Craft Awards, Golden Trailer awards, and Broadcast Awards, UK.

Watch Formula 1: Drive to Survive trailer:

Making a Murderer (2015)

IMDB Ratings: 8.6/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

Netflix Documentaries Making a Murderer
Netflix Documentaries Making a Murderer

Cast: Dolores Avery, Steven Avery, Laura Nirider, Ken Kratz, Kathleen Zellner, Brendan Dassey, Len Kachinsky, Sandra Greenman, Danielle Ricciardi.

Making a murderer is an American crime documentary series based on the life of Steven Avery. Avery was falsely convicted of sexual assault and attempted murder of Penny Beerntsen. He was exonerated later after a DNA testing in 2003 proved that he was not guilty. By this time, he had already served 18 years in prison. Four years to this, he was convicted again, for the murder of Teresa Halbach, a photographer from Wisconsin. Additionally, Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey was also convicted as an accessory in the murder case. The storyline of the series is set between 1985 and 2007. It explores the facts about the initial arrest and trial, exoneration, Avery’s civil lawsuit, and the later arrest and its trial.

This true-crime documentary is a Netflix original series that premiered in December 2015. The series, which has two seasons, was shot over the duration of 10 years. A widely acclaimed and popular documentary on Netflix, Making a murderer won a number of awards including four Primetime Emmy Awards. It is one of the top documentaries on Netflix under the crime genre.

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David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet (2020)

IMDB Ratings: 9/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

Best Documentaries on Netflix
David Attenborough A Life On Our Planet

Cast: David Attenborough

If you care about our planet and its depleting natural resources, then this documentary movie will move you. Through the life of David Attenborough, one of the best natural historians ever, we get to catch a glimpse of the journey of planet Earth in the recent few decades. In this movie, Attenborough talks about his career in the wild, studying ecosystems, and how drastically have they changed through the course of his life. Attenborough worked as a British public service broadcaster at the BBC since the 1950s. He has filmed several documentaries in the wild, in different corners of the world, and in different ecosystems.

Over the last few decades, he observed a dangerous decline in wildlife owing to climate change, in which human intervention plays a major role. He oversees that starting in 2020, the planet might undergo major irreversible changes if manmade destruction continues. These irreversible changes include the Artic losing all its ice, the Amazon rainforest degrading into a savanna, death of coral reefs, food crises, and eventually, mass extinction. He also proposes remedies to prevent these disasters from happening by restoring the planet’s biodiversity.

The movie is an eye-opener and a must-watch for all who want the planet to be safe for the future generations. The cinematic release of the film took place in September 2020, while it was released on Netflix in October. Additionally, a book named “A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future”, penned by Attenborough was released in October. One of the most inspirational nature documentaries, this movie received high critical acclaim for its truthful narrative and stunning nature photography. The film won the Critics’ Choice Documentary Award for Best Narration in 2020. It is undoubtedly one of the best new documentaries on Netflix.

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The Last Dance (2020)

IMDB Ratings: 9.1/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Best Documentaries on Netflix The Last Dance
Best Documentaries on Netflix The Last Dance

Cast: Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, David Aldridge, Scottie Pippen, Steve Kerr, Michael Wilbon, Deloris Jordan, Andrea Kremer, John Paxson.

The Last Dance is an American sports documentary that is based on the sports career of Michael Jordan, one of the iconic basketball players of all time. It also features the Chicago Bulls, the American professional basketball team, the team with which Jordan played his final season. The series brings to the world exclusive footage from the season, which includes never-before-seen interviews with many popular personalities at the National Basketball Association. These include Jordan himself, Scottie Pippen, Steve Kerr, Dennis Rodman, Phil Jackson, Jerry Reinsdorf, and David Aldridge.

The series, which consists of ten episodes, premiered on the ESPN network in April 2020, and later on Netflix. It is highly accredited for its fine direction and editing. It has won a number of awards and nominations, including that of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction series. Other accolades bagged include the TCA awards and Creative Arts Emmy Awards. One of the few insightful sports documentaries made, The Last Dance surely is one of the best documentaries to watch on Netflix.

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Our Planet (2020)

IMDB Ratings: 9.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

Best Documentary Online Our Planet
Best Series Online Our Planet

Cast: David Attenborough

Our Planet is a British documentary series, narrated by David Attenborough, a famous natural historian. The Netflix original series talks in-depth about the impact of human intervention in the degradation of natural resources of the planet. One of the key features of the documentary is that it succeeds in capturing the rich biodiversity of the earth and the fauna in their home regions. In a series of 8 episodes, the series mesmerizes the viewer with astounding facts from the natural world. It makes us humans understand that how necessary it is that we take a step back and notice the harm that we are causing to our beautiful home planet.

One of the best documentaries on Netflix, it is also the first of its kind to feature on the OTT network. Our Planet premiered on the platform in April 2019. It is only natural for a viewer to wonder if how did the makers create this masterpiece. As to answer that bewilderment, Netflix released another documentary that depicts the behind-the-scenes of Our Planet, in August, later that year. The series is universally acclaimed for the exceptional imagery as well as the message that it leaves behind. David Attenborough won the Primetime Emmy award in the category of ‘Outstanding Narrator’ for Our Planet, in 2019. The series has also won and been nominated for numerous other accolades that include the BAFTA Television Craft Awards, Golden Trailer Awards, and International Documentary Association awards. Needless to say, it is a must-watch among the top documentaries on Netflix.

Watch Our Planet trailer:

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Anjali Kesavan

I am a graduate in Mathematics from University of Mumbai. I am also trained in Creative writing through a training programme by Internshala. I have a passion for writing since schooldays. I am a vivid bibliophile, and I find solace and inspiration in good books. I write fiction, poems, articles and travelogue diaries. My idea of writing a good piece of work is when it creates a positive impact on the reader.

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