100 Greatest Documentaries

(NEW May 2018) One of the oldest forms of filmmaking, documentaries use a variety of techniques to inform and shape our world. The list includes everything from "fly on the wall" docs to daring pieces of political activism to hilarious mockumentaries.  You can see a list of sources used to compile the list here.

 
 
man with a movie camera.jpg

#1) Man with a Movie Camera

(1929 - dir. Dziga Vertov)

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#2) Shoah

(1985 - dir. Claude Lanzmann)

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#3) Sans soleil

(1983 - dir. Chris Marker)

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#4) Night and Fog

(1956 - dir. Alain Resnais)

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#5) The Thin Blue Line

(1988 - dir. Errol Morris)

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#6) Harlan County U.S.A.

(1976 - dir. Barbara Kopple)

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#7) Nanook of the North

(1922 - dir. Robert J. Flaherty)

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#8) Hoop Dreams

(1994 - dir. Steve James)

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#9) Dont Look Back

(1967 - dir. D.A. Pennebaker)

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#10) Salesman

(1969 - dir. Albert Maysles, David Maysles)

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#11) The Gleaners & I

(2000 - dir. Agnes Varda)

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#12) Grizzly Man

(2005 - dir. Werner Herzog)

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#13) The Sorrow and the Pity

(1969 - dir. Marcel Ophuls)

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#14) Grey Gardens

(1975 - dir. Albert Maysles, Ellen Hovde)

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#15) Triumph of the Will

(1935 - dir. Leni Riefenstahl)

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#16) Titicut Follies

(1967 - dir. Frederick Wiseman)

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#17) Roger & Me

(1989 - dir. Michael Moore)

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#18) The Battle of Chile

(1975-1979 - dir. Patricio Guzmán)

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#19) Chronique d'un été (Paris 1960)

(1961 - dir. Edgar Morin, Jean Rouch)

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#20) Land Without Bread

(1933 - dir. Luis Buñuel)

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#21) Gimme Shelter

(1970 - dir. Albert Maysles, David Maysles)

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#22) Blood of the Beasts

(1949 - dir. Georges Franju)

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#23) Koyaanisqatsi

(1982 - dir. Godfrey Reggio)

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#24) The Act of Killing

(2012 - dir. Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, anonymous)

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#25) The War Game

(1965 - dir. Peter Watkins)

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#26) The Up Series

(1964-Present - dir. Paul Almond, Michael Apted)

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#27) West of the Tracks

(2002 - dir. Wang Bing)

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#28) Histoire(s) du cinéma

(1989 - dir. Jean-Luc Godard)

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#29) Leviathan

(2012 - dir. Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel)

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#30) Seasons

(1975 - dir. Artavazd Pelechian

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#31) Crumb

(1994 - dir. Terry Zwigoff)

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#32) Welfare

(1975 - dir. Frederick Wiseman)

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#33) Burden of Dreams

(1982 - dir. Les Blank)

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#34) Man of Aran

(1934 - dir. Robert J. Flaherty)

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#35) When We Were Kings

(1996 - dir. Leon Gast)

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#36) Close Up

(1990 - dir. Abbas Kiarostami)

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#37) Sherman's March

(1985 - dir. Ross McElwee)

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#38) F for Fake

(1975 - dir. Orson Welles)

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#39) The Fog of War

(2003 - dir. Errol Morris)

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#40) Waiting for Fidel

(1974 - dir. Michael Rubbo)

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#41) Capturing the Friedmans

(2003 - dir. Andrew Jarecki)

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#42) Lessons of Darkness

(1992 - dir. Werner Herzog)

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#43) The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

(1987 - dir. Kazuo Hara)

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#44) The House is Black

(1964 - dir. Forough Farrokhzad)

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#45) Woodstock

(1970 - dir. Michael Wadleigh)

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#46) Quince Tree of the Sun

(1992 - dir. Victor Erice)

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#47) Primary

(1960 - dir. Robert Drew)

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#48) A Diary for Timothy

(1945 - dir. Humphrey Jennings)

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#49) Man on Wire

(2007 - dir. James Marsh)

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#50) À propos de Nice

(1930 - dir. Jean Vigo)

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#51) Portrait of Jason

(1967 - dir. Shirley Clarke)

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#52) Gates of Heaven

(1978 - dir. Errol Morris)

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#53) Bowling for Columbine

(2002 - dir. Michael Moore)

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#54) Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory

(1895 - dir. Louis Lumiere)

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#55) The Hour of the Furnaces

(1968 - dir. Fernando E. Solanas, Octavio Getino)

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#56) Handsworth Songs

(1987 - dir. John Akomfrah)

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#57) Belovy

(1994 - dir. Viktor Kossakovsky)

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#58) Darwin's Nightmare

(2004 - dir. Hubert Sauper)

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#59) In the Year of the Pig

(1968 - dir. Emile de Antonio)

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#60) Stop Making Sense

(1984 - dir. Jonathan Demme)

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#61) Little Dieter Needs to Fly

(1997 - dir. Werner Herzog)

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#62) Listen to Britain

(1942 - dir. Humphrey Jennings, Stewart McAllister

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#63) When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts

(2006 - dir. Spike Lee)

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#64) Tongues Untied

(1989 - dir. Marlon Riggs)

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#65) O.J.: Made in America

(2016 - dir. Ezra Edelman)

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#66) Hearts and Minds

(1974 - dir. Peter Davis)

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#67) Nostalgia for the Light

(2010 - dir. Patricio Guzmán)

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#68) The Times of Harvey Milk

(1984 - dir. Rob Epstein)

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#69) Lake of Fire

(2006 - dir. Tony Kaye)

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#70) Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse

(1991 - dir. Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper)

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#71) Paris is Burning

(1990 - dir. Jennie Livingston)

night mail.jpg

#72) Night Mail

(1936 - dir. Harry Watt, Basil Wright)

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#73) Los Angeles Plays Itself

(2003 - dir. Thom Andersen

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#74) Moi, un noir

(1959 - dir. Jean Rouch)

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#75) Stories We Tell

(2012 - dir. Sarah Polley)

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#76) Fahrenheit 9/11

(2004 - dir. Michael Moore)

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#77) Culloden

(1964 - dir. Peter Watkins)

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#78) Diaries, Notes and Sketches: Walden

(1969 - dir. Jonas Mekas)

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#79) D'Est

(1993 - dir. Chantal Akerman)

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#80) Waltz with Bashir

(2008 - dir. Ari Folman)

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#81) The Last Waltz

(1978 - dir. Martin Scorsese)

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#82) Kon-Tiki

(1950 - dir. Thor Heyerdahl)

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#83) Hitler: A Film from Germany

(1977 - dir. Hans-Jurgen Syberberg

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#84) High School

(1969 - dir. Frederick Wiseman)

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#85) Monterey Pop

(1968 - dir. D.A. Pennebaker)

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#86) Empire

(1964 - dir. Andy Warhol)

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#87) Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat

(1896 - dir. Auguste & Louis Lumière)

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#88) Baraka

(1992 - dir. Ron Fricke)

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#89) Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

(2004 - dir. Bruce Sinofsky, Joe Berlinger)

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#90) I for India

(2005 - dir. Sandhya Suri)

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#91) Point of Order

(1964 - dir. Emile de Antonio)

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#92) This Is Spinal Tap

(1984 - dir. Rob Reiner)

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#93) Berlin: Symphony of a Great City

(1927 - dir. Walter Ruttman)

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#94) People on Sunday

(1930 - dir. Curt Siodmak, Robert Siodmak)

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#95) The Act of Seeing with One's Own Eyes

(1971 - dir. Stan Brakhage)

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#96) My Winnipeg

(2007 - dir. Guy Maddin)

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#97) To Be and to Have

(2002 - dir. Nicolas Philibert)

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#98) Turksib

(1929 - dir. Victor A. Turin)

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#99) Les maîtres fous

(1955 - dir. Jean Rouch)

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#100) David Holzman's Diary

(1967 - dir. Jim McBride)

View this list on iCheckMovies.com

LIST NOTES:

Films from Each Decade:
1920s: 3
1930s: 13
1940s: 9
1950s: 5
1960s: 12
1970s: 15
1980s: 21
1990s: 13
2000s: 8
2010s: 1

Oldest Film: 1895, Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory
Newest Film: 2016, O.J.: Made in America

Year with the most represented films:
5, 1975 (Grey Gardens, The Battle of Chile Part I, Seasons, Welfare, F for Fake)

Directors with Multiple Films Listed:
3, Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man, Lessons of Darkness, Little Dieter Needs to Fly)
3, Albert Maysles (Salesman, Grey Gardens, Gimme Shelter)
3, Michael Moore (Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11)
3, Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War, Gates of Heaven)
3, Frederick Wiseman (Titicut Follies, Welfare, High School)
2, Emile de Antonio (In the Year of the Pig, Point of Order)
2, Robert J. Flaherty (Nanook of the North, Man of Aran)
2, Patricio Guzmán (The Battle of Chile, Nostalgia for the Light)
2, Humphrey Jennings (A Diary for Timothy, Listen to Britain)
2, Louis Lumière (Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory, Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat)
2, David Maysles (Salesman, Gimme Shelter)
2, D.A. Pennebaker (Dont Look Back, Monterey Pop)
2, Jean Rouch (Moi, un noir, Les maîtres fous)
2, Peter Watkins (The War Game, Culloden)