15 Best Documentaries On Netflix – A Cinematic Journey

Richard Williamson

Best Documentaries On Netflix

Are you ready to embark on a cinematic journey like no other? Look no further than Netflix, where a treasure trove of captivating documentaries awaits.

From gripping true crime stories to eye-opening explorations of the natural world, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. As I delved into the vast collection, I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the wealth of knowledge and entertainment at my fingertips.

Netflix has truly become a haven for documentary enthusiasts, providing an escape from the chaos of everyday life while satisfying our subconscious desire for safety. 

With each film, I found myself transported to different corners of the globe, immersing myself in untold stories and uncovering hidden truths.

The best part? These documentaries are not only informative but also incredibly engaging, leaving me on the edge of my seat and hungry for more.

So join me as we delve into the 15 best documentaries on Netflix – a captivating cinematic journey that will leave you both enlightened and entertained. 

Get ready to witness incredible acts of bravery, unravel complex mysteries, and gain a newfound appreciation for the world around us.

It’s time to sit back, relax, and let these thought-provoking films take you on an unforgettable adventure.

15 Best Documentaries On Netflix – A Cinematic Journey

When it comes to the best documentaries on Netflix, there are a few that have truly captured my attention.

One of them is ‘Athlete A,’ which explores the shocking abuse scandal in USA Gymnastics.

Another standout is ’13th,’ a powerful film that delves into the history and impact of racial inequality within the criminal justice system.

And then there’s ‘Ancient Apocalypse (2022),’ an intriguing series that uncovers the mysteries behind ancient civilizations and their downfall.

These documentaries, along with others like ‘The Great Hack’ and ‘Disclosure,’ offer thought-provoking narratives and eye-opening revelations that make for a captivating cinematic journey.

1. Athlete A

Unveiling the harrowing truth behind Dr. Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of young gymnasts, ‘Athlete A‘ takes viewers on a gripping documentary journey that exposes the dark underbelly of the sport.

As a survivor myself, I felt a deep connection to this film and its portrayal of the bravery and resilience of these young athletes who came forward to share their stories. 

The filmmakers, Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, have crafted a compelling narrative that not only sheds light on the abuse itself, but also delves into the systemic failures that allowed it to continue for so long.

Through powerful interviews with survivors, investigative journalists, and former gymnastics coaches, ‘Athlete A’ paints a vivid picture of the toxic culture within USA Gymnastics that enabled Nassar’s abuse to go unchecked. It explores themes of power dynamics, institutional cover-ups, and the overwhelming pressure placed on these young athletes to succeed at any cost.

The documentary is both heart-wrenching and empowering as it highlights the strength and determination of these courageous women who chose to speak out against their abuser.

Movie Information

  • Rating: PG-13 (Descriptions of Sexual Abuse|Mature Thematic Content)
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Original Language: English
  • Directors: Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk
  • Producers: Serin Marshall, Jennifer Sey, Julie Parker Benello
  • Release Date: Jun 25, 2020
  • Runtime: 1h 43m

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2. 13th

Ava DuVernay’s thought-provoking documentary, ‘13th,’ sheds light on the disproportionate incarceration of African-Americans in the United States, exposing the deeply rooted racial inequality within the nation’s prison system. 

Through a compelling cinematic journey, DuVernay unveils the historical context and systemic factors that have led to this alarming reality.

The film challenges viewers to confront uncomfortable truths and consider their own role in perpetuating or dismantling racial injustice.

One of the most impactful aspects of ’13th’ is its exploration of how slavery has evolved into mass incarceration over time. DuVernay traces a direct line from the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery except as punishment for a crime, to present-day policies that disproportionately target and imprison black individuals. 

She skillfully weaves together interviews with activists, scholars, and politicians alongside archival footage and powerful visuals to create an immersive experience that educates and inspires change.

By highlighting the devastating consequences of racial profiling, mandatory minimum sentences, and private prisons, ’13th’ compels viewers to question their preconceived notions about crime and punishment. It exposes how these systems not only perpetuate racial inequality but also profit from it.

The documentary serves as a call to action for audiences to critically examine our criminal justice system and advocate for meaningful reform.

Movie Information

  • Genre: Documentary
  • Original Language: English
  • Director: Ava DuVernay
  • Producers: Spencer Averick, Howard Barish, Ava DuVernay
  • Release Date: May 23, 2017
  • Runtime: 1h 40m

3. Ancient Apocalypse (2022)

Get ready to embark on a mind-blowing adventure as you join me, Graham Hancock, on my globe-trotting quest to uncover jaw-dropping evidence of ancient civilizations that will leave you in awe.

In the documentary series ‘Ancient Apocalypse,’ I delve into the mysteries of lost civilizations dating back to the last Ice Age. Through my travels and investigations, I aim to shed light on our forgotten past and challenge conventional historical narratives.

As we journey together, you’ll witness firsthand the remnants of these ancient civilizations and explore intriguing archaeological sites around the world. From examining intricate cave paintings in France’s Chauvet Cave to unraveling the secrets of GÃbekli Tepe in Turkey, each discovery brings us closer to understanding our shared human history. But be prepared for surprises along the way, as unexpected connections emerge between these far-flung cultures.

Through engaging storytelling and captivating visuals, ‘Ancient Apocalypse’ takes you on a thrilling ride through time. You’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the ingenuity and resilience of our ancestors while contemplating how their knowledge might still influence our modern world today. So buckle up and get ready for an unforgettable journey that will ignite your imagination and make you question everything you thought you knew about human history.

Movie Information

  • Title: Ancient Apocalypse
  • Starring: Graham Hancock
  • TV Network: Netflix
  • Premiere Date: Nov 11, 2022
  • Genre: History

4. The Great Hack

Prepare yourself for a gripping exploration of the dark underbelly of data exploitation as you dive into the astonishing world of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook in the captivating documentary, ‘The Great Hack.’

This eye-opening film takes you on a rollercoaster ride through the unpredictable personal journeys of individuals on different sides of the explosive Cambridge Analytica/Facebook data scandal.

Directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim, ‘The Great Hack’ delves deep into the murky waters of how our personal data is collected, manipulated, and used to influence political campaigns and shape public opinion.

Through a combination of interviews, undercover footage, and expert analysis, this documentary unveils the disturbing reality behind the massive data breaches that occurred during the 2016 US presidential election.

It exposes how companies like Cambridge Analytica exploited people’s personal information to create targeted political ads and propaganda, ultimately influencing voting behavior on an unprecedented scale.

As you watch ‘The Great Hack,’ be prepared to question your own online presence and consider just how much power these tech giants hold over our lives.

Movie Information

  • Genre: Documentary
  • Original Language: English
  • Directors: Karim Amer, Jehane Noujaim
  • Producers: Karim Amer, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Judy Korin
  • Release Date: Jul 24, 2019
  • Runtime: 2h 15m

5. Disclosure

Immerse yourself in the groundbreaking documentary ‘Disclosure‘ as it explores the powerful impact of Hollywood’s portrayal of transgender people and its influence on American culture. Directed by Sam Feder, this eye-opening film takes viewers on a journey through the history of transgender representation in mainstream media, examining how these portrayals have shaped public perception and perpetuated harmful stereotypes.

Through interviews with transgender actors, filmmakers, and activists, ‘Disclosure’ sheds light on the struggles faced by transgender individuals in an industry that often reduces them to punchlines or villains.

This thought-provoking documentary not only highlights the negative consequences of Hollywood’s portrayal of transgender people but also celebrates moments of progress and visibility. It delves into iconic films and TV shows that have both reinforced harmful stereotypes and paved the way for more authentic representation. By examining specific scenes and storylines from popular media, ‘Disclosure’ invites viewers to critically analyze their own preconceived notions about gender identity.

Ultimately, ‘Disclosure’ challenges viewers to recognize the power that media holds in shaping societal attitudes towards marginalized communities. It serves as a reminder that accurate representation is essential for fostering empathy, understanding, and acceptance. This documentary is an important contribution to ongoing conversations about diversity and inclusion in entertainment.

Movie Information

  • Genre: Documentary
  • Original Language: English
  • Director: Sam Feder
  • Producers: Sam Feder, Amy Scholder
  • Release Date: Jun 19, 2020
  • Runtime: 1h 40m

6. Unsolved Mysteries (2020 – Present)

Unsolved Mysteries (2020 – Present) is like a gripping puzzle that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, eagerly searching for clues to unravel the truth. As a fan of true crime documentaries, I was instantly drawn to this series when it premiered on Netflix.

The show follows in the footsteps of its original version from the late 80s and early 90s, bringing intriguing cases to light and allowing viewers to become armchair detectives.

What sets Unsolved Mysteries apart from other true crime shows is its focus on unsolved cases. Each episode delves into a different mystery, ranging from missing persons cases to unexplained deaths and paranormal events. The documentary style of storytelling allows viewers to feel like they are part of the investigation, as interviews with family members, witnesses, and law enforcement personnel provide firsthand accounts and emotional insights.

One aspect that makes Unsolved Mysteries so captivating is its ability to create an atmosphere of suspense and intrigue. The show’s creators have mastered the art of building tension through expert pacing and meticulous editing. Each episode leaves you wanting more, piecing together the available evidence in your mind long after the credits roll.

Movie Information

  • Creators: John Cosgrove, Terry Dunn Meurer
  • TV Network: Netflix
  • Premiere Date: July 1, 2020
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Executive producers: John Cosgrove, Terry Dunn Meurer, Robert M. Wise, Josh S. Barry, Shawn Levy

7. The Movies That Made Us (2021)

Get ready to dive deep into the fascinating behind-the-scenes stories of iconic films that shaped our cinematic history in The Movies That Made Us. This docuseries, produced by the same team behind ‘The Toys That Made Us’, takes you on a captivating journey, revealing the secrets and challenges faced during the making of some of our favorite movies.

From start to finish, each episode is dedicated to a specific film, exploring its origins, production process, and ultimate impact on the industry.

Throughout The Movies That Made Us, you’ll discover how these beloved movies came to be, from initial concepts and script development to casting choices and production hurdles. It’s an eye-opening exploration that gives fans a deeper appreciation for their favorite films.

Whether it’s learning about the groundbreaking special effects in ‘Ghostbusters’ or the intense action sequences in ‘Die Hard’, this series provides an inside look at what went into creating these cinematic masterpieces.

Not only does The Movies That Made Us entertain with its engaging storytelling style, but it also satisfies our subconscious desire for safety by showcasing how even highly successful films faced numerous challenges along the way. By highlighting the obstacles and detours encountered during production, viewers are reminded that even in Hollywood, things don’t always go according to plan. This reassurance brings comfort and a sense of stability as we witness how filmmakers overcome adversity to bring their visions to life.

Movie Information

  • TV Network: Netflix
  • Premiere Date: Nov 29, 2019
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Executive producer: Brian Volk-Weiss

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8. Wild Wild Country

Moving on from ‘The Movies That Made Us,’ let’s delve into another captivating documentary series available on Netflix: ‘Wild Wild Country.’ This thought-provoking series takes us back to a pivotal yet often overlooked time in American history.

Set in the Oregon desert, it chronicles the clash between a controversial guru and local ranchers, ultimately leading to a bioterror attack and illegal wiretapping. As executive producers Mark and Jay Duplass guide us through this extraordinary tale, we are forced to question our country’s tolerance for the separation of church and state.

Within the realm of documentaries, ‘Wild Wild Country’ stands out as a truly unique and captivating exploration of an often forgotten chapter in American cultural history. Through its meticulous storytelling and powerful interviews, the series transports viewers to a time when ideals clashed with reality, igniting heated conflicts that tested societal boundaries. The backdrop of a utopian city built by a charismatic guru adds an intriguing layer to this narrative, making it all the more compelling.

Movie Information

  • TV Network: Netflix
  • Premiere Date: March 16, 2018
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Executive Producers: Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass

9. The Social Dilemma (2020)

Immerse yourself in the thought-provoking and visually impactful documentary, ‘The Social Dilemma,’ as it vividly exposes the dangerous human impact of social networking. Directed by Jeff Orlowski and released in 2020, this eye-opening film delves into the dark underbelly of our digital world, revealing how social media platforms manipulate our behavior for profit.

Through interviews with former employees from tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, ‘The Social Dilemma’ uncovers the alarming extent to which these platforms invade our privacy and manipulate our thoughts. It explores how algorithms are designed to keep us engaged by feeding us personalized content that reinforces our beliefs and biases. By creating echo chambers and fostering addictive behaviors, social media not only polarizes society but also poses a threat to mental health.

This gripping documentary uses a mix of interviews, dramatizations, and expert insights to paint a stark picture of the dangers that lie within social networking. It serves as a wake-up call for viewers to critically examine their online habits and question the ethics behind these powerful tech companies.

Movie Information

  • Rating: PG-13 (Disturbing/Violent Images|Suggestive Material|Some Thematic Elements)
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Original Language: English
  • Director: Jeff Orlowski
  • Producer: Larissa Rhodes
  • Release Date: Sep 9, 2020
  • Runtime: 1h 34m

10. The Speed Cubers

Experience the awe-inspiring world of competitive Rubik’s Cube solving through the eyes of Max Park and Feliks Zemdegs in ‘The Speed Cubers,’ where their intense rivalry pushes the boundaries of what’s humanly possible.

Witness Max Park’s incredible journey from being diagnosed with autism to becoming a five-time World Champion, inspiring countless individuals along the way. As I watched this documentary, I couldn’t help but be captivated by Max’s determination and resilience. Despite facing challenges that seemed insurmountable, he never gave up on his dream of becoming a Rubik’s Cube champion.

‘The Speed Cubers’ not only showcases Max’s remarkable achievements but also highlights the deep bond between him and Feliks Zemdegs, another Rubik’s Cube prodigy. Their friendship transcends competition as they support and motivate each other to push beyond their limits. It’s truly heartwarming to see these two young men celebrate each other’s successes and genuinely root for one another.

Through stunning cinematography and intimate interviews, director Sue Kim takes us on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. We feel the tension build as Max and Feliks go head-to-head in intense competitions, holding our breaths as they attempt to break records in lightning-fast solving times. But beyond the thrilling moments of triumph or defeat, ‘The Speed Cubers’ reminds us of the power of friendship, compassion, and perseverance.

Movie Information

  • Genre: Documentary
  • Original Language: English
  • Director: Sue Kim
  • Release Date: Jul 29, 2020
  • Runtime: 40m

11. Icarus

Get ready to uncover the shocking truth about doping in sports as you dive into the thrilling and eye-opening world of ‘Icarus.’ This captivating documentary takes you on a cinematic journey that exposes the dark underbelly of competitive sports and reveals the extent of performance-enhancing drug use among athletes.

As I watched ‘Icarus,’ I was taken aback by the extent to which doping has infiltrated some of the most prestigious sporting events.

The film follows filmmaker Bryan Fogel as he sets out to explore the effects of performance-enhancing drugs on his own body while participating in a cycling race. However, what starts as a personal experiment quickly turns into something much bigger when he unexpectedly stumbles upon Russia’s state-sponsored doping program.

The story takes an unexpected twist as we witness firsthand how far-reaching and deeply ingrained this corruption is within international sports organizations.

‘Icarus’ is not only a gripping exposé on doping, but it also raises important questions about ethics, fairness, and the lengths people are willing to go for success. It serves as a stark reminder that even our most beloved athletes are not immune to deception and cheating.

Through interviews with key figures involved in the scandal, we gain valuable insights into the intricate web of lies and cover-ups that have allowed this systemic issue to persist for so long.

Movie Information

  • Genre: Documentary
  • Original Language: English
  • Director: Bryan Fogel
  • Producers: Dan Cogan, David Fialkow, Jim Swartz
  • Release Date: Aug 4, 2017
  • Runtime: 2h 1m

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12. Dirty Money (2018-2020)

Delve into the deceitful world of Dirty Money, where scandal and corruption collide in captivating tales of corporate greed and shady deals. This gripping docuseries exposes the underbelly of business, shining a spotlight on the unscrupulous activities that some companies engage in to amass wealth and power.

From fraudulent car companies to the controversial empire of Donald Trump, each episode offers firsthand accounts from both the perpetrators and their victims, providing a comprehensive look at how these acts of corruption unfold.

In Dirty Money, viewers are taken on a cinematic journey that reveals the dark side of capitalism. The series not only highlights the shocking actions taken by corporations but also explores the devastating impact they have on individuals and society as a whole.

With its compelling storytelling and thought-provoking narratives, Dirty Money serves as a stark reminder that even in seemingly reputable industries, unethical practices can run rampant.

Movie Information

  • TV Network: Netflix
  • Premiere Date: Jan 26, 2018
  • Genre: Documentary

13. 20 Feet From Stardom

Unveiling the hidden stories behind legendary backup singers, 20 Feet From Stardom sheds light on the unsung heroes of the music industry. This captivating documentary, directed by Morgan Neville, takes us on a cinematic journey that explores the captivating world of background vocalists like Darlene Love and Merry Clayton.

With its PG-13 rating for strong language and sexual material, this film delves deep into their struggles, triumphs, and the impact they’ve had on some of the greatest songs in history. As I watched this documentary, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of admiration and respect for these incredible talents who’ve often remained in the shadows while others took center stage.

Their voices have graced countless hit records, yet their names aren’t always recognized by the general public. Feet From Stardom reminds us that there’s so much more to discover beyond what meets the eye in the music industry. It serves as a powerful reminder that every success story has a team of dedicated individuals working tirelessly behind the scenes to make it happen.

So if you’re looking for an inspiring journey through music history that’ll leave you with a newfound appreciation for those who stand just feet from stardom, look no further than this remarkable documentary on Netflix.

Movie Information

  • Genre: Documentary
  • Original Language: English
  • Director: Morgan Neville
  • Release Date: N/A
  • Runtime: N/A

14. Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution sheds light on a groundbreaking summer camp that empowers teenagers with disabilities, directed by James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham, with an impressive runtime of 1 hour and 47 minutes.

This powerful documentary takes viewers on a journey through the lives of campers at Camp Jened, a summer camp in upstate New York that became a haven for young people with disabilities in the 1970s.

Through archival footage and interviews with former campers and staff members, Crip Camp explores the transformative experiences that took place at this unique camp.

The film follows the stories of several individuals who attended Camp Jened during their teenage years, providing an intimate look into their struggles and triumphs.

From fighting for civil rights to advocating for accessibility in society, these courageous individuals paved the way for disability rights activism.

Crip Camp not only highlights the incredible impact of this summer camp but also serves as a call to action for greater inclusivity and equality for people with disabilities.

Movie Information

  • Rating: R (Sexual References|Some Language)
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Original Language: English
  • Producers: James Lebrecht, Sara Bolder, Nicole Newnham
  • Writers: James Lebrecht, Nicole Newnham
  • Release Date: Mar 26, 2020

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15. Don’t F**k With Cats (2019)

Take a thrilling plunge into the twisted world of online sleuthing with Netflix’s Don’t F**k With Cats. This gripping documentary follows a group of amateur internet detectives who become obsessed with tracking down a sadistic criminal.

What starts as an innocent pursuit to identify and stop animal abuse quickly escalates into a dangerous game that takes them into the dark corners of the internet.

As the story unfolds, viewers are drawn into a chilling cat-and-mouse chase where nothing is as it seems. The tension builds as clues are unraveled, leading to shocking discoveries and unexpected twists.

The relentless determination of online sleuths is both captivating and disturbing, showcasing the power of collective action in an age where anyone can become a detective from behind their computer screen.

Don’t F**k With Cats not only delves into the unsettling world of online crime but also raises important questions about morality and justice in the digital era. It challenges our notions of anonymity and accountability, reminding us that even in the vastness of cyberspace, actions have consequences.

Movie Information

  • TV Network: Netflix
  • Premiere Date: Dec 18, 2019
  • Genre: Crime
  • Executive producers: Dimitri Doganis, Adam Hawkins


The 15 best documentaries on Netflix take viewers on a cinematic journey like no other. From gripping tales of true crime to eye-opening explorations of nature and culture, these films captivate with their compelling storytelling and breathtaking visuals.

Each documentary delves deep into its subject matter, leaving audiences enlightened and inspired. Whether you’re a history buff or a science enthusiast, there is something for everyone in this curated collection. The filmmakers’ meticulous attention to detail and their ability to shed light on important issues make these documentaries must-watch experiences.

So grab your popcorn, sit back, and prepare to be amazed as you embark on this captivating cinematic adventure.

In summary, the 15 best documentaries on Netflix offer an unparalleled opportunity for viewers to expand their horizons and gain new insights into the world around them. With their mesmerizing narratives and thought-provoking content, these films are sure to leave a lasting impression.

So why wait? Dive into this treasure trove of captivating stories today and let yourself be transported by the power of documentary filmmaking. Happy watching!

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