6 Best Documentaries You Have to Watch

Insightful and not to be missed, these six documentaries chart their own portion of history, making them must-see and eye-opening films.

For those of you looking to learn a little something while still having a relaxing night in front of the TV, I’ve been hunting out the six best documentaries for you to watch. I warn you, they range from nail biting to cringeworthy and insightful to heartbreaking, so don’t go thinking you’re in for an easy ride. Still, these six stories shaped history in their own way and each of them make for an incredible documentary that you simply have to watch.

1. Senna


Using documented footage of Brazilian Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna throughout his decade in the limelight, Senna is thrilling, insightful, and heartbreaking all at once. It gives you an unparalleled insight into the world of F1 and the lives of the competitors, sponsors, crew, and the families surrounding it. This rare gem covers Senna’s rise to fame, documenting his passion, determination, ambition, and the drive that ultimately made him one of the greatest racing drivers to have ever lived.

2. The Thin Blue Line

When Randall Dale Adams was convicted of murdering a Dallas police officer in 1976, he was sentenced to face the electric chair. In 1988, while Adams was still waiting for his sentence to be carried out, Errol Morris began shooting his documentary The Thin Blue Line, which followed the case. Morris used a mixture of face-to-face interviews and crime scene re-enactments (something that had never before been done) to sculpt his masterpiece, ultimately helping to prove Adams had been wrongly convicted and overturning his sentence while changing the face of documentaries forever.

3. Woodstock


The iconic 1969 Woodstock Festival was dubbed three days of peace and music. This Oscar winning documentary followed the famous festival from start to finish, covering preparation to clean up, and all the sex, drugs, music, and everything else in between. The documentary provides a unique insight into the ideologies of the sixties and what really made them swing. Shot by Michael Wadleigh and edited by Thelma Schoonmaker and Martin Scorse, Woodstock is still hailed as one of the most entertaining documentaries of all time.

4. Supersize Me

In 2004, Morgan Spurlock decided to examine the influence fast food has on our bodies after he was fascinated by the rapid spread of obesity across the US. Spurlock’s documentary follows him as he eats nothing but McDonald’s meals for thirty days and, of course, the damaging effects it has on his body. His new diet sees him consuming around 5,000 calories per day by eating only a meagre three meals. You’ll likely never look at fast food again after he reveals the damaging mental and physical effects it has on his body. Supersize Me certainly is food for thought!

5. Man on Wire


James Marsh’s 2008 Oscar winning documentary uses contemporary interviews, re-created scenes, and archived footage to tell the story of Philippe Petitt, a French high-wire artist who committed the ‘artistic crime of the century.’ In 1974, the twenty-four-year-old illegally strung a high-wire between the two World Trade Centres, some 1,350 feet off the ground. Petitt then proceeded not just to walk across but to walk, dance, and perform acrobatics on the wire before finally coming down and handing himself in to the authorities. Man on Wire documents Petitt’s preparation for the act, the walk itself, and the aftermath of it for both him and his family.

6. March of the Penguins

Luc Jacquet’s 2008 critically acclaimed documentary March of the Penguins follows a flock of emperor penguins for a year of their lives, focussing on one couple in particular. It documents the flock as the make their way across the Antarctic back to their annul breeding grounds, facing many challenging and often daunting obstacles as they do. This uplifting, heartbreaking, and insightful documentary sees the penguins face life, death, birth, and tragedy, along with some comical encounters as they date and mate in the icy wilderness.

Of course, these six films provide only a taste of all the insightful and must-see documentaries out there. Each of them charts their own portion of history, helping to broaden our minds and open our eyes to things we may not always want to but things we ought to see.

Cover photo: www.movieposter.com

About the author


Writing is Nichola’s passion but she's also an avid reader and a massive film geek. Like most of us, Nichola spends way too much time surfing the web, mostly reading blogs on the weird and wonderful or rumours of who's got the lead role in next years hottest films.

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