My list of 40 recommended documentary films may seem long, but it is incomplete. First, I did skew it toward lesser known films, which means it is lacking many highly acclaimed documentaries. Second, I couldn't remember all the films I've seen and enjoyed. A commenter recommended In the Realms of the Unreal, which I have seen and did find fascinating. (If you made a move about Henry Darger and it wasn't fascinating you definitely did something wrong.) I just forgot about it. Had I not it might have made the list although I'm not sure what it would dislodge.
The biggest reason, however, that my list is incomplete is that there are many films I've never seen, some of which are likely to be equally amazing as those I named if not moreso.
I will be looking into many of the suggestions posted in the comments, but here are a few selections that have been languishing in my Netflix queue waiting for the right night for me to watch them.
- Page One: Inside the New York Times. A look inside the newsroom as the Old Gray Lady faces the challenges of a changes world of media.
- I Think We're Alone Now. A man with Asperger's Syndrome and a hermaphrodite are both in love with the pop singer Tiffany. Sounds like a strange premise for a film? I think so too. I need to watch it to see if strange makes it compelling or exploitative or just stupid.
- Confessions of a Superhero. This film captures the lives of four people who work as costumed characters on Hollywood Boulevard. I have many friends who have done very odd gigs in their struggles to be working actors, so I think I'll empathize with these stories.
- American Grindhouse. I'm pretty sure my husband added this to the queue, but sure, I'll watch a documentary about the history of exploitation films.
- The Story of 1. Monty Python's Terry Jones explores how the number one was invented. Yes, I am excited to watch a movie about the number one. Yes, I am a nerd. Shut up.
- Girl 27. The story of a 1937 MGM Studio party, the violent rape that occurred there, the subsequent lawsuit and what happened to victim Patricia Douglas afterward. It's not a fun topic, but the film is supposed to be quite well done.
- The Tents. On a far less serious note, I am going to watch what is purportedly a mediocre documentary about New York Fashion Week (NYFW) solely because of my love of Project Runway (except for one episode a season as I wrote about here.)
- Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox. This was recommended by a friend who watched it because she uses Dr. Bronner's soap and was intrigued by the strange text printed on the label. Now I'm intrigued too.
- Lost in La Mancha. I'm guessing the story of Terry Gilliam's failure to make a movie of Don Quixote might be more interesting than the film he would actually make. Well, maybe not. This is Terry Gilliam after all.
- Please Vote for Me. Chinese elementary school students are introduced to the concept of democracy by having elections for class monitor. I started watching this and stopped because it was hard to watch how manipulative one of the boys is. Despite his young age he is willing to do anything to win. I know that's realistic, but as a mother of a boy starting preschool this year I needed to figuratively stick my fingers in my ears and yell "La la la! I can't hear you!" and just for a moment pretend that bullying doesn't exist. Still, I'm likely to revisit this if only because of my borderline compulsive need to see how things end even if I'm not enjoying them. (Remind me to tell you about the book Something Happened at some point.)
One more film I'd like to see is currently in theaters
- The Imposter. After their teenage son had been missing for 3 years a Texas family is glad to have him home again, but the young man they welcome so openly doesn't quite seem to match up with the boy who was lost.
Are there any true stories in your queue?