There you are. Sitting at home with not much to do. It’s rearrange your sock drawer, finally figure out what you have stuffed in that junk drawer, or pull out your streaming device and veg on the couch.
- Socks? You’ll lose half of them in the wash in two weeks anyway.
- Junk? It’s a little scary because you still can’t locate that spider from last week.
- So, popcorn it is! One last choice: What to watch?
The main difference between a cinephile and a movie-goer is simple: A love for storytelling. Movie-goers dig a fine story as well, but the characters, the plot, the genre — it all creates a movie experience.
A cinephile can watch a movie from the silent genre and laugh or a movie with subtitles and be moved to tears. Understanding that, a movie that informs and inspires is rare. And, in many situations for cinephiles, those are documentaries.
Here are 10 of the best available documentaries to stream right now…
Genius, in any form, is easily detectable and often misunderstood. What Amy Winehouse was able to do in music in the short time she was here in this mortal coil was just that — genius. And that is what makes how she abused her gift more difficult to watch in this gripping vantage point of her troubled soul. By the time Amy was released — four years after her tragic death — everyone was convinced they heard it all about her. Following this Oscar-winning documentary, it’s clear no one heard it all. Rare talent encapsulated in a rare story.
Where? Amazon Prime Video
And then there are times when genius is absolutely corrupt, vile, and deranged. The reason cult leaders are effective is they start their torture internally. This documentary explores the effects of emotions and words on people. One day in August 2003, supposed to be like any other, but wasn’t. A man walks into an Erie, Pennsylvania bank with a bomb around his neck. This riveting expose delves into why he did it. The journey this documentary takes the viewer on makes “roller coaster” seem redundant.
Be honest. Certain movies appeal to certain people. For some people, as soon as the trailer begins, they can silo segments of society mentally and determine if “that’s a movie for them.” Then, there are movies and documentaries like 13th. That thought will not — and should not — enter your mind. This is for everyone because it is that important. If Selma was Ava DuVernay’s triumph, 13th was her standing ovation and encore. She weaves a cathartic tapestry of footage, stills, and testimonials into a quilt made to warm the cold win blowing in this nation against racial injustice and inequality. Absolutely stirring.
Exit Through the Gift Shop
If you mess around on Google Images or in the social space trolling for memes, you have come across the burghal and captivating street art of Banksy. This documentary is as compelling and slightly confusing as Banksy. Is this a real authentic tale of his rags to artistic riches? Is this is an impressive rouse? As we are learning that mystery exists, we meet an odd guy from France named Thierry Guetta who has a penchant for videotaping graffiti artists. So, who better to capture his passion? Banksy. Yeah, it’s a mindmeld and that’s why watching it is only half the fun.
Where? Amazon Prime
Abducted in Plain Sight
Fair Warning: If you are a parent, this is one of the more difficult things you will try to watch. However, if you love a gripping and evocative documentary, this is it. You almost have to watch it twice to understand this story is real. This cautionary tale on the absolute lowest forms of humanity and brainwashing children is a real thing is among the troubling aspects of this doc. On one hand, the Skye Borgman doc is an addictive binge. On the other, you watch it and want to put your fist through a wall. Difficult to watch? Definitely. Good for a watch? Definitely still.
Going Clear: Scientology & Prison of Belief
Speaking of brainwashing (yes, Tom Cruise, we are so looking at you), this eerie documentary shows you the blatant abuse stories and devolving of the human condition in this cult. Although L. Ron Hubbard is placed in an ivory tower pedestal, he is really a failed sci-fi writer who placed all of his myopic and egregiously crap-filled sandwich views into a book that would begin it all, Dianetics. There’s is nothing untrue, misleading, or creatively embellished in this doc. You find yourself asking, “How can those dumb people not figure that mess out?” Easy, they don’t know anything until its too late. Again, that’s a cult for you as Alex Gibney brilliantly shows in his Emmy-winning film.
Hypnotic. Absolutely an adrenaline tractor beam. And if you go into this Oscar-winning documentary thinking this is “just about rock climbing,” you would be sorely mistaken. The cinematography is breaktaking. If you only watch the documentary for that, it would be worth it. But, there’s an even larger story to be told — the dynamic between Alex and his girlfriend. Free Climbing (climbing a rock wall with no ropes, protection, or common sense) is Alex’s passion and he stops at nothing to climb the daunting El Captain in Yosemite National Park. You need this in your life.