At this point, everyone in my life teases me about the copious amount of documentaries I watch. My parents. My boyfriend. My boss. My coworkers! I have people text me when they watch one, because they know I’ll appreciate it. Netflix is an incredible deal for $8 a month with series like Breaking Bad, Parenthood, and The Killing at your fingertips. The unknown gems of Netflix are the documentaries – really! Some of my favorites lately:
How to Die in Oregon (NR, 2011)
This one isn’t for everybody. Oregon adopted the “death with dishonor” law in 1994, allowing for physician-assisted suicide. The documentary opens with a man, Roger, ending his live by drinking a prescription drink. It follows Cody, a mother with two grown children and a husband, who is diagnosed with liver cancer. There’s side stories about couples, the elderly, and public policy. Regardless of your views – it’s a beautiful documentary with incredible stories.
(Tears alert – I cried/sobbed the entire time.)
107 minutes | Netflix rating: 4.2 stars
Burt’s Buzz (NR, 2013)
A great background-noise documentary, Burt’s Buzz talks about Burt Shavitz… the man on the Burt’s Bees logo. The billion dollar brand and Burt couldn’t be more different. Burt lives a reclusive life in upstate Maine with his dog, Pasha. A combination of a hitchhiker and a brash career change created the beeswax balm many of us use. An interesting story, but not a gripping one.
88 minutes | Netflix rating: 3.8 stars
Killer at Large: Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat (NR, 2009)
Spoiler alert: America is FAT. This documentary follows the lack of public policy surrounding a growing problem that kills 110,000 Americans every year. From an individual, political, scientific and cultural point of view, you hear from Bill Clinton, a former Surgeon General and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Added bonus: watch parents picket schools for removing candy from their kid’s schools. You go, America.
102 minutes | Netflix rating: 3.8 stars
Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory (NR, 2014)
I don’t wanna get too excited here – BUT THIS IS ONE OF MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITES. This documentary follows Dan Cohen, middle aged social worker, and his journey in bringing Alzheimer patients alive. Using their favorite music, you watch lost and confused patients come to life. There’s one point when a man hears one of his old songs and is so overcome with emotion, saying, “I’m crying…. I’m crying and I don’t know why!” OH MY HEART. It’s just incredible and leaves you feeling so good when it’s over.
(Tears alert – I cried/sobbed through this one, too.)
78 minutes | Netflix rating: 4.5 stars
GMO OMG (NR, 2013)
Spend a little time with me and I’ll tell you my feelings about genetically modified objects (GMOs). They’re… strong. This documentary is made by a father, Jeffrey Seifert, who goes on a journey to find out what GMOs are for his children’s safety . He searches for answers about the risks of eating genetically modified foods and the interesting public policy behind them.
90 minutes | Netflix rating: 4 stars