Documentaries

Has anyone else been watching 50 documentaries to see before you die on The Current?

I guess I should preface this by saying that I loooove documentaries. I am a docu-nerd or docu-geek or whatever you want to call it. I’m sure I have several years before I enter the target age range for Frontline, but I have loved that show for a long time (and it’s all the more awesome that Mike’s nonprofit works on stories for them).

Basically, Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me fame has been hosting a countdown of 50 great documentaries, and the Current is showing a lot of them (yay!). Of course I had to find out how many of them I had seen. Here is the list, with the ones I’ve seen bolded.

50. Spellbound (Jeffery Blitz, 2002)
49. Madonna: Truth or Dare (Alek Keshishian and Mark Aldo Miceli, 1991)
48. The Kid Stays in the Picture (Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen, 2002)
47. One Day in September (Kevin Macdonald, 1999)
46. Little Dieter Needs to Fly (Werner Herzog, 1998)
45. The Decline of Western Civilization: The Metal Years (Part II, Penelope Spheeris, 1988)
44. Burma VJ (Anders Østergaard, 2008)
43. When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (Spike Lee, 2008)
42. Catfish (Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, 2010)
41. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (Seth Gordon, 2007)
40. When We Were Kings (Leon Gast, 1996)
39. Biggie and Tupac (Nick Broomfield, 2002)
38. March of the Penguins (Luc Jacquet, 2005)
37. Inside Job (Charles Ferguson, 2010)
36. Taxi to the Dark Side (Alex Gibney, 2007)
35. Paragraph 175 (Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, 2000)
34. Brother’s Keeper (Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, 1992)
33. Tongues Untied (Marlon Riggs, 1989)
32. Dogtown and Z-Boys (Stacy Peralta, 2001)
31. Jesus Camp (Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, 2006)
30. Farenheit 9/11 (Michael Moore, 2004)
29. Man on Wire (James Marsh, 2008)
28. Gasland (Josh Fox, 2010)
27. Tarnation (Jonathan Caouette, 2003)
26. Murderball (Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro, 2005)
25. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (Alex Gibney, 2005)
24. Paradise Lost (Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, 1996)
23. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, 2000)
22. Shut Up and Sing (Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck, 2006)
21. Exit Through The Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)
20. Capturing the Friedmans (Andrew Jarecki, 2003)
19. Touching the Void (Kevin Macdonald, 2003)
18. Food, Inc. (Robert Kenner, 2008)
17. Street Fight (Marshall Curry, 2005)
16. Bus 174 (José Padilha and Felipe Lacerda, 2002)
15. Crumb (Terry Zwigoff, 1994)
14. Dark Days (Marc Singer, 2000)
13. The Fog of War (Errol Morris, 2003)
12. Bowling For Columbine (Michael Moore, 2002)
11. Paris Is Burning (Jennie Livingston, 1990)
10. Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)
9. Trouble the Water (Carl Deal and Tia Lessin, 2008)
8. An Inconvenient Truth (Davis Guggenheim, 2006)
7. The Celluloid Closet (Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, 1995)
6. The War Room (D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, 1993)
5. Super Size Me (Morgan Spurlock, 2004)
4. Waltz with Bashir (Ari Folman, 2008)
3. Roger and Me (Michael Moore, 1989)
2. The Thin Blue Line (Errol Morris, 1988)
1. Hoop Dreams (Steve James, 1994)

I think my Netflix queue just got a lot longer! A lot of times docs are available to watch instantly, which is nice.

My favorites from this list are probably Grizzly Man, Super Size Me, Food, Inc., and The King of Kong. Trouble the Water is also really great. I don’t think any movie has scared me more than Jesus Camp.

I did start to think about how many good docs were not on this list, so here are some of my faves that did not make the cut:

• The Human Experience — this one will send you into the ugly cry.
• Wasteland — about an artist who befriends garbage pickers in Rio
• Very Young Girls — scary look at prostitutes in the US
• Ballerina – lovely movie about ballerinas in Russia
• Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox — the story behind the wacky soap
• My Kid Could Paint That —I loved this one because the filmmaker changes his opinion about the subject partway through the movie.
• The Bridge — about people who commit suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge
• Grey Gardens — the original documentary is so quirky you can’t believe it’s real
• The Business of Being Born — I know a lot of people who hated this movie because it’s a little TMI in parts, but I think it’s so important that women start taking back control of the childbirth process.
• God Grew Tired of Us and Lost Boys of Sudan — about what it was like for the lost boys of Sudan to come to America
• Helvetica — the perfect movie for design nerds, about the iconic font
• The Devil and Daniel Johnston — this one’s a trip, you just have to see it
• New York — this is an 8-part series from PBS all about NYC
• Wordplay and Word Wars — like Spellbound, about the intense worlds of crossword and Scrabble competitions
• Who Killed the Electric Car? — even more interesting now that electric cars are finally being sold
• The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill — about the man who was caretaker to the wild parrots in San Francisco

Maybe it’s because I’m a journalist, but I just think nothing is more interesting than the things that really happen.