If you have a Netflix subscription and you aren’t dipping into the Documentary tab – you, my friend, are missing out.
It started about a month ago with Blackfish, I watched it and then watched it again the next day with Kent. From there, I’ve watched close to two dozen other documentaries, ranging from things like gangs in Chicago to the benefits of natural birth. I feel as though it’s my civil duty to give you a run down of the best ones I’ve found – and inconspicuously push you to watch some of them. ;) I’ve picked out the some that cover a range of different topics, you’re bound to find something that fits your fancy.
Blackfish (2013, PG-13)
The story of Tilikum, the whale who killed trainer Dawn Brancheau at Seaworld in February 2010. The same whale has two documented attacks and one undetermined incident – all of which lead to the death of a trainer. The hour and a half documentary goes back to the beginning, unearthing the treatment of the killer whales, the practices of Seaworld, and gives you a new look at animals in captivity. Forewarning: there are parts where you watch trainers being held at the bottom of tanks, bleeding from wounds, and other “cover your eyes” kind of scenarios.
Netflix Rating: 4.4 Stars
The Business of Being Born (2008, NR)
Maybe not the first thing you’d click on in your Netflix feed, but it is worth every second. The documentary covers the health benefits of a natural birth, the dangers of medicines given in the hospital during labor, and the history of midwifery.
By the time it ended, I felt like an invincible, bad ass, empowered woman. It encourages education, presenting facts like a 4% caesarian rate in the 1970s to almost 80% in some parts of the United States. Makes you think – what’s really going on here? Regardless of whether you have kids already, don’t want them at all, or you’re too young to even think about babies – you have to watch this.
Netflix Rating: 3.8 Stars
The Interrupters (2012, R)
This is a great guy-friendly one. It covers the gang riden streets of Chicago, and a group of former gang members who have bonded together to create an anti-violence group, CeaseFire. It follows three of these violence interrupters in their touching and at times life threatening journey to break up gang violence. It moves you to re-evaluate your prejudices and views of the people around you, it can be easy to forget that everyone has their own struggles. The Interrupters will make you smile, make you laugh, cringe, and restore your faith in humanity.
Netflix Rating: 3.8 Stars
Farmageddon (2011, NR)
A documentary on milk and farms? Hold back your initial bias y’all, because this one is fascinating. Similar to Food Inc. and Fresh, Farmageddon takes the question of “why is healthy and organic food so expensive?” and throws you into the struggle of being a local farmer. The government’s heavy regulatory systems that are made for large corporations nearly drown the local farms our communities depend on. As Americans, we deserve to know the truth behind the milk we buy at the store and the health benefits of what the government doesn’t want us to have.
Netflix Rating: 4.1 Stars (the second highest rated Netflix documentary :)!)
The Whale (2011, G)
Maybe you saw Blackfish, and maybe it left you feeling kind of bad at the end of it. Enter: The Whale. The story of Luna, a two year old Orca who gets separated from his family. The orphaned whale makes the best of his situation and adopts a village in British Colombia. Prepare to have your heart swell and explode over this cute whale who plays with sticks and likes to be pet by children. When the government catches wind of humans interacting with a killer whale, all hell breaks loose and the story of Luna and what will happen to him, unfolds.
Netflix Rating: 4.4 Stars (& the highest rated documentary on Netflix!)
The Forest for the Trees (2006, NR)
For the environmental activist inside you: The Forest for the Trees is the postmortem anthem for activist Judi Bari. The modern day story follows young activists and elderly civil rights lawyers as they fight for the liberation of Judi’s name. Judi was a vibrant activist for Earth First! and was highly revered by the loggers she fought against for her kind nature and honest fights. In 1990, Judi’s car was bombed at a rally and within hours was named a terrorist by the FBI. Twelve years later, the documentary filmer follows her father into court as he defends Judi and her innocence, long after she is gone. Maybe you don’t consider yourself a crunchy, granola type of person and environmental documentaries aren’t’ for you, but I’ll bet you $10 that you’re wrong ;)
Netflix Rating: 3.5 Stars
Cruise Ship Disaster: Inside the Concordia (2012, TV-PG)
A modern day cruise ship sinking? Just off the coast, not even a mile from shore? The story of the Concordia is told by survivors of this wreck off the coast of Isola de Giglio, Italy. One terrible night, thirty dead passengers and two still missing, the quick 42 minute documentary sends chills up your spine. Not recommended for those boarding a ship in the next year – or two.
Netflix Rating: 3.7 Stars
The Imposter (2012, R)
Not going to lie – this documentary is creepy as shit. I’m talking, the credits roll and you’re still trying to grasp how something like this could have happened. Nutshell version of this horrifying story: a twenty-something mentally ill man from Spain impersonates a missing person sixteen year old from America.
Fast forward to some hair dye, identical tattoos, and accusations of the military kidnapping and raping him – he is living with the family of the missing boy – pretending to be him. Hanging out with his friends and going to high school. Just thinking about a total stranger impersonating someone and living with their family is making my skin crawl right now. It leaves you unsettled, wonder how can a family not know their own son? Can a lethal mixture of grief and lead you to believe that a total stranger is your son?
Netflix Rating: 3.6 Stars
What are your favorite Netflix documentaries?