10 Best Documentary Films

The 10 best documentary films are a cavalcade of creative genius, bizarre people, interesting facts, and lasting memories. A documentary is a film that documents a single event or a variety of events for posterity or education. The main theme of the following documentaries is that of people of different races, places, and lives all come together in a beautiful collage of motion picture infamy.

  1. "Crumb" (1994). Directed by Terry Zwigoff, this documentary is one of the ten best documentary films due to the intimate life of the grandfather of underground cartoons Robert Crumb and his family. R, as he calls himself, is a self professed shy wimp and a pervert who draws without conscience. "Crumb" is a honest look into the mind and life of a legend of cartooning.
  2. "Kennywood Memories" (1988). Narrated by Rick Sebak, the voice of WQED, this documentary tells the history of Kennywood Park in West Mifflin, PA. Sebak gives a breezy tone to the documentary as he visits the time when Kennywood was just a picnic park and collects dozens of interviews with current and former employees, visitors, and different performing acts throughout the park.
  3. "Confessions of Robert Crumb" (1987). This was the first taste of the eclectic Robert Crumb. “Confessions” is one of the ten best documentary films on tape. Shot mostly in his quaint house in Winters, California, he gives a deep rendition of his life in this one. The ending shows the family; R, his wife Aline, and daughter Sophie getting ready to move to the south of France. Crumb's views make this one of the ten best documentaries ever made.
  4. "American Splendor" (2003). Technically a biopic, “American Splendor” is narrated by Harvey Pekar. It is set in Cleveland , Ohio, as Harvey is down on his luck. Harvey makes appearances throughout the film as himself, and in a cool segment in the movie Harvey and Toby Radloff are seen talking about jelly beans while their actor counterparts are in the background talking. This is one of the ten best documentary films due to the surrealism and variety.
  5. "Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson" (2008). “Gonzo” is a crazy ride that takes the audience from a drug induced maniac, to a straight laced politician, to a quiet man who likes solitude. “Gonzo” is one of the ten best documentary films ever made.
  6. "Lords of Dogtown" (2005). One of the ten best documentary films recorded due to the gritty and creative team known as the Z-Boys. “Lords of Dogtown” is based on the Zephyr skateboard team in the early 1970's. Lead by Tony Alva, Jay Adams, and Stacey Peralta, the Z-Boys reinvented the dreary skateboard scene with a surfing aesthetic and combined it with renegade daredevil skating. Sean Penn narrates the entire film and his mistakes are edited into the film.
  7. "Capturing the Friedmans" (2003).  Arnold and Jesse Friedman are arrested for child molestation while giving computer classes in their basement and are sent to prison without a fair trial and no evidence. The film is mostly interviews with the family as their home movies play in the background.
  8. "Rising Son: The Legend of Skateboarder Christian Hosoi" (2006). Christian's rise to fame in the 1980's and downward spiral soon after is wrapped up into this aspiring documentary. Hosoi spends money like water with his friends as they travel around the world until he is busted with illegal drugs, sent to prison, and turned his life over to god.
  9. "Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene" (2008). Petey Greene, the original shock jock of television told people how to eat watermelon, showed how unity could change the black community, and gave hope to young black people that they too can be successful.
  10. "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" (2005). Daniel Johnston started to make music,and draw at a very young age. Growing up in a religious home, he is constantly scolded by his religious mother all the while recording her comments and integrating them into his songs. Daniel falls into an abyss of depression and given prescription drugs that turns him into a schizophrenic. This intriguing documentary is sad, comical, scary, and beautiful.
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