Documentaries Watched In 2017, Ranked

  1. Little Dieter Needs To Fly (1997)
    Werner Herzog directs the story of a German born man who would go on to become a Vietnam POW with an incredible tale of survival.
  2. 13th (2016)
    Director Ava DuVernay's fiery exploration of the reasons why the US has the largest prison population in the world. It covers a large amount of ground quickly and packs quite a punch.
  3. Tower (2016)
    Telling the story of the 1966 shootings from the tower of the University of Texas in Austin the film combines rotoscoped talking head commentary and reenactments with archival footage in way that makes the events utterly immediate. It's an experience like no other that is an emotional demonstration of the extremes of humanity.
  4. The Queen Of Versailles (2012)
    Beauty pageant winner turned trophy wife of a time share king are building the largest house in America as the film starts. Then the 2008 financial crisis hits throwing their business in to disarray.
  5. Stevie (2002)
    Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") documents the chaos in the life of his former Little Brother mentee as Stevie goes to trial after confessing to child molestation. A very difficult watch that tests the limits of compassion.
  6. Amanda Knox (2016)
    Amanda Knox shot to tabloid level fame after being charged with the murder of her roommate. This film makes the case that the police in the small town in Italy that she was studying, egged on by the press, ignored the evidence that pointed to her innocence because of a gut feeling of the lead detective. The filmmakers aren't shy about showing people they interviewed as villains and it's fascinating to see how those people might not have realized it.
  7. Lo And Behold: Reveries Of The Connected World (2016)
    Werner Herzog's film essay shows us the history of the internet, questions how online behavior has changed us, and asks if civilization could survive the end of a connected world.
  8. Weiner (2016)
    Following Anthony Weiner during his campaign for mayor of New York City, this is a fascinating portrait of a man that can not leave his personal demons behind him despite having a fighting spirit and an incredibly savvy wife behind him. It also pulls the curtains back on a modern day political campaign in a way I've not seen before.
  9. Nobody Speak: Trials Of The Free Press (2017)
    When Hulk Hogan filed a lawsuit to block the release of a sex tape many experts expected it to be dismissed, but instead it ended Gawker. The lawsuit was funded by a billionaire with an agenda against the site that intended to silence the publication. The film also discusses another billionaire's purchase of a newspaper to silence his critics before it gets into Trump and the post-truth world we now live in. Despite the compelling questions it asks, the film fails to stick the landing.
  10. Cave Of Forgotten Dreams (2010)
    Werner Herzog takes us on a tour of the Chauvet caves in France. Discovered in the 90s, the cave's paintings are the oldest known artwork in the world. Unfortunately there is only enough material to justify half of the running time.
  11. Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things (2015)
    Framed around a book tour from two guys preaching the philosophy of minimalism, this film asks religious questions but strains itself to avoid talking about religion at all. Also, Lotso from Toy Story 3 would love these guys.