Netflix: The Absolute Greatest Documentaries to Watch – CNET

Way back to I can bear in mind, Netflix documentaries have at all times been unimaginable, however with so many alternative reveals and films to select from, it may be exhausting to select. That’s why we’ve made this checklist.

We’re beginning with the the most effective new documentaries launched previously 12 months. After that we’ve divided the rest of our picks by style. We’re updated for January.


There’s rather a lot to get by way of. Seize some popcorn and glad watching!

The Greatest New Documentaries on Netflix


Pepsi, The place’s My Jet? is one among my favourite sorts of documentary. It’s an offbeat documentary on a weird subject with a solid of really charismatic and insane folks. 

The premise: Within the mid-’90s Pepsi had some extent system designed to encourage folks to drink extra Pepsi. One advert confirmed off a Harrier Jet you can purchase with 7 million of those factors. John Leonard, a 21-year-old enterprise scholar, discovered a loophole that allowed him to purchase factors for 10 cents and tried to drive Pepsi to make good on their advertising and marketing promise. Chaos ensues.


A captivating documentary on an extremely compelling topic, Pamela, A Love Story is a reevaluation of Pamela Anderson, some of the compelling celebrities of 90s. Directed by Ryan White it combines diary readings, interviews with Anderson herself alongside time spent with Anderson’s sons to create an unimaginable portrait of a misunderstood human being. Should watch stuff.


Pretty much as good as Netflix documentaries are, there’s been a bent to pull out true crime into these bloated multiepisode sequence. Fortunately Our Father is the alternative of that. It’s a lean, completely executed documentary targeted on Donald Cline, an Indiana fertility physician who used his personal sperm to inseminate a ridiculous variety of girls in opposition to their will.

That is an unimaginable piece, a kind of tales that simply escalates and escalates to the purpose the place your jaw drops in disbelief.


Break Level is the most recent in what looks like a zillion documentaries exploring the day by day drama of sports activities. You already know those I imply — All or Nothing, Drive to Survive. Cricket has one, AFL has one — there’s even a golf one approaching Netflix later this yr.

Break Level focuses on Tennis and — fortunately — picks the most effective athletes to give attention to. Watch this for the legendary Nick Kyrgios on the very least.


With the Qatar World Cup actually happening proper now, there couldn’t be a greater time to get caught into FIFA’s murky behind-the-scenes habits. This can be a really surprising documentary. Be warned: The allegations listed below are so wild you would possibly even really feel compelled to cease watching the World Cup.


Untold is the most recent from the parents behind Wild Wild Nation.

It’s a sports activities documentary sequence, with every episode going in-depth on controversial sports activities matters. The primary episode focuses on Malice on the Palace, the infamous basketball match the place Ron Artest waded into the gang and wailed on followers again in 2004.

Untold is now in its second season, and it’s absolute must-watch stuff. The brand new episodes are arguably higher than the stellar first season. Perhaps the most effective sports activities documentary sequence on Netflix


Preserve Candy: Pray and Obey (2022)

There are loads of Netflix documentaries about cults gone mad, however Preserve Candy: Pray and Obey is likely to be probably the most disturbing of the lot. Not like Homicide Among the many Mormons, which just about handled its subject like a screwball comedy, Preserve Candy is a really grim story a few grim human being in Warren Jeffs. It’s a unbelievable documentary, and among the many greatest Netflix has produced, nevertheless it comes with a really hefty content material warning.


Keep on Board: The Leo Baker Story (2022)

Skateboarding as a sport makes for an awesome documentary subject. Dogtown and Z Boys, All That Mayhem — completely legendary.  Keep on Board: The Leo Baker Story is one other in an extended line of classics.

It focuses on Leo Baker, the skater who got here out as trans and needed to give up competing on the Olympics within the course of. Wonderful, should watch stuff.

Michael Putland/Getty Photographs

Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story (2022)

It’s nearly unimaginable to overstate how well-known Jimmy Savile was within the UK — notably within the Nineteen Eighties. He was past a family identify, in some ways he felt like an eccentric uncle to the nation.

Which made revelations that he had sexually assaulted lots of of underage women and boys all of the extra horrific. This was an individual the entire of Britain had invited into their properties. 

Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story does an awesome job of going by way of the archives, combining footage that’s totally weird in hindsight, and including unbelievable interviews with among the main gamers in British TV throughout Savile’s heyday. A captivating, albeit disturbing documentary. Be warned: This can be a tough watch.


Our Nice Nationwide Parks (2022)

Barack Obama is making a beeline for David Attenborough’s job. And we don’t hate the thought!

Our Nice Nationwide Parks is a world-class nature documentary within the model of nice BBC reveals like Planet Earth. They’ve nailed it right here. In the event you’re a fan of that sort of present, that is fully unmissable.


The Most Hated Man on the Web (2022)

Netflix has been on fireplace with its documentaries recently, and The Most Hated Man on the Web is the most recent. From the producers of Tinder Swindler and Dont F**okay with Cats, it’s a three-part documentary that tells the story of Hunter Moore, some of the infamous purveyors of “revenge porn.” Undoubtedly value watching this one.


The Lady within the Image (2022)

The Lady within the Image is the most recent true crime documentary from Netflix. It’s up there with the service’s best possible work.

It looks like, after a interval of needlessly bloated multiepisode documentaries, Netflix has began trimming the fats, releasing lean, extremely compelling documentaries once more. First Preserve Candy: Pray and Obey and Our Father, now this.

The Lady within the Image tells the story of a younger lady, murdered at age 20. To say an excessive amount of would spoil the affect, however it is a layered, brutal documentary with infinite twists. It must be seen to be believed.


The Tinder Swindler (2022)

A documentary targeted on Shimon Hayut, aka the “Tinder Swindler,” a conman who used relationship apps to defraud a number of girls throughout Europe to fund a lavish way of life.

A barely totally different subject in comparison with most true crime documentaries on Netflix. Undoubtedly value a gander.

True crime


I’ve watched loads of true crime documentaries on Netflix, however nothing has come near The Keepers. A staggering story, informed throughout generations, that’s respectful of the victims, but compelling all through.

It’s a narrative in regards to the unsolved homicide of Catherine Cesnik, a nun who taught at a Catholic college in Baltimore, however The Keepers goes additional than you would possibly anticipate and exposes a possible coverup of intercourse abuse allegations.


The true crime documentary style is totally saturated at this level, however The Staircase stands out. 

Specializing in Michael Peterson and the loss of life of his spouse Kathleen, The Staircase is greater than only a homicide thriller. It’s a drawn-out epic that takes place over literal many years, a documentary that follows Peterson and examines his each transfer, however one way or the other nonetheless stays goal. 

It’s a very good time to observe or revisit this one, since HBO Max has simply launched a drama miniseries based mostly on it.


Home of Secrets and techniques: The Burari Deaths (2021)

One of many newer true crime documentaries from Netflix, it is a good one.

Specializing in the weird deaths of 11 relations in a single home in Burari, Delhi, India in 2018, Home of Secrets and techniques delves into the theories behind of the strangest suicide/homicide circumstances in current reminiscence. Unmissable stuff.


This Is a Theft is about Netflix because it will get. A four-part sequence specializing in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, that is basically a documentary about an artwork heist. Keep in mind Evil Genius? (Which can also be on this checklist.) This Is a Theft may be very a lot in that model. The primary episode takes some time to get going, however be affected person — this one has a payoff.


Homicide Among the many Mormons (2021)

A few of Netflix’s newer true crime documentaries have been a bit bloated and… sorta unhealthy?

Fortunately Homicide Among the many Mormons is a return to type. Undoubtedly watch this one.


Who Killed Little Gregory (2019)

Who Killed Little Gregory is a documentary targeted on the horrific homicide of Grégory Villemin. It’s arguably the most effective true crime documentary on Netflix. It’s a few homicide, and makes an attempt to unravel that homicide, nevertheless it’s additionally a lesson in media illustration and the horrific sexism Grégory’s mom needed to face within the wake of her son’s homicide.


American Homicide: The Household Subsequent Door (2020)

There are loads of true crime documentaries on the market (and on this checklist) however American Homicide: The Household Subsequent Door stands proud. 

It tells the story of Chris Watts, a seemingly common man who murdered his spouse and youngsters. The entry to footage is staggering and it’s edited and produced in a singular means, utilizing textual content messages and social media posts to inform the story. It’s a horrific reminder of the banal, extremely frequent existence of home violence.


Making a Assassin (2015-2018)

With the swath of true crime documentaries and podcasts that got here in its wake, it’s simple to neglect that the world as soon as misplaced its collective thoughts over Making a Assassin. In loads of methods it created the template that many Netflix documentaries now comply with. An actual authentic.

Sports activities


In 2020, within the midst of a pandemic, Netflix dropped this piece of sports activities doc perfection. 

The Final Dance focuses on the Chicago Bulls throughout their ’97-’98 NBA title-winning season, however actually it’s a leaping off level for a documentary that tells the life story of its central star, Michael Jordan. 

Consequently, many criticized it for being a little bit too Jordan-focused, however The Final Dance was an occasion documentary that lived as much as the hype.


This Oscar-winning documentary is an absolute belter. 

Icarus begins out as an expose on the affect performance-enhancing medicine have on sports activities efficiency, however a sequence of occasions drags director Bryan Fogel into an online of geopolitics and conspiracies. To say extra would spoil it, however Fogel finally has created a documentary that had a really actual affect on our notion of sports activities as an entire. In that respect, Icarus is a literal recreation changer.


System 1: Drive to Survive (2019)

Absolutely the gold commonplace for long-running sports activities documentaries. Drive to Survive is so good, and so well-liked, that it’s impressed an entire new stage of curiosity in System 1, particularly within the US. This present is nice at elevating the characters that occupy the game. Extra reveals like this, please.


Athlete A is a superb function size expose on Larry Nassar, the workforce physician of USA Gymnastics, who had been sexually abusing feminine athletes for many years.

Be warned: This one is harrowing.


14 Peaks tells the story of the Nepalese mountaineer Nimsdai Purja and his objective of climbing all 14 mountains above the peak of 8,000 meters (26,000 ft) in a single yr. It’s unimaginable. Should-watch stuff.


Netflix may need burned the true crime documentary into the bottom, nevertheless it’s on fireplace relating to sports activities. Unhealthy Sport is the most recent entry into this burgeoning subcategory, and it’s superior. Specializing in unusual controversies in sports activities historical past, Unhealthy Sport is much less about main gamers doing main issues, it’s about what occurs when sport goes unhealthy, will get down within the filth. All of those episodes are nice. Hoping for a season 2.


The River Runner is sorta like Free Solo for kayaking. Think about {that a} praise.

Specializing in Scott Lindgren, a kayaking legend who was a pioneer of the game, it is a conventional story of an excessive sports activities star overcoming odds, nevertheless it runs a little bit deeper than that. Combating in opposition to a mind tumor and his personal private demons, Lindgren is a compelling case examine. Should watch stuff.


Naomi Osaka has turn out to be some of the well-known and talked-about athletes on the planet. This fascinating documentary explores totally different phases of her profession and gives unimaginable entry into the lifetime of a younger lady scuffling with the pressures of sport and fame. A must-watch.


In the event you’re searching for a barely extra uplifting documentary, you can do far worse than The Pace Cubers, a take a look at the world of aggressive… Rubik’s Cubers? It’s brief, however packs an unimaginable emotional punch. Put together your self, this one would possibly break you.



Seaspiracy follows within the footsteps of a number of documentaries targeted on the affect of meat consuming on the surroundings. This time the worldwide fishing business is within the crosshairs. As anticipated this one has stirred up a little bit of controversy from all stakeholders — PETA, Greenpeace and conservation teams can’t appear to agree if Seaspiracy is correct or honest. Watch it and make up your personal thoughts.


My Octopus Trainer (2020)

My Octopus Trainer follows Craig Foster, a filmmaker who spent a yr snorkeling and interacting with an octopus off the coast of South Africa. It’s a nature movie, positive, nevertheless it’s concurrently a documentary designed to encourage awe within the viewer. In brief, octopuses are unimaginable. Little aliens on Earth, basically. That is the story of a relationship between people and nature, nevertheless it’s additionally an inspiring name to motion: Don’t ignore the surprise that exists throughout you.


David Attenborough nature documentaries are so pervasive, they’re weak to self parody, however Our Planet is — I imagine — the excessive watermark. Solely Planet Earth, one other Attenborough doc, comes shut. However I desire this one.


Time might uninteresting its affect, however when Tiger King was first launched on Netflix, all the world couldn’t cease speaking about it. 

Tiger King explores the unusual underbelly of massive cat breeding, specializing in a solid of unforgettable (and finally harmful) characters. It drags its viewers to bizarre locations. Season 2 is now accessible and whereas the present has misplaced loads of its chew, it’s intriguing to meet up with this solid of untamed human beings doing wild, fully outlandish issues. 

Politics/historical past


thirteenth by Ava Duvernay is a staggering documentary that tells the story of American slavery and its long-lasting impacts, a lot of which nonetheless resonate as we speak. 

Within the wake of the Black Lives Matter motion, this ought to be necessary viewing.


Within the wake of the Capitol siege, the Fb/Cambridge Analytica controversy nearly looks like historical historical past, however that doesn’t make this documentary any much less necessary. In the event you haven’t seen it, then watch it.


Operation Varsity Blues: The Faculty Admissions Scandal (2021)

Just lately launched, Operations Varsity Blues: The Faculty Admissions Scandal has a reputation so long as a few of Netflix’s current documentaries. Fortunately, this isn’t as bloated as, say, the current Cecil Lodge doc, nevertheless it may nonetheless use some trimming. 

Operation Varsity Blues targeted on the FBI investigation into school admissions that put actress Felicity Huffman into jail. Its director, Chris Smith, beforehand labored on the Fyre Pageant documentary. This isn’t fairly as compelling, however remains to be nicely value watching.


Knock Down the Home (2019)

No matter your views on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Knock Down the Home is an unimaginable underdog story that can not be missed. Specializing in progressive feminine candidates throughout the 2018 congressional major campaigns, it’s an insightful take a look at the democratic course of. It’s an inspiring reminder that we have to struggle with a view to make the voices of extraordinary folks depend.


What Occurred, Miss Simone? (2015)

Not gonna say a lot right here. Nina Simone is a legend and that is perhaps top-of-the-line documentaries I’ve ever seen.


Overlong and bloated, Wild Wild Nation is nonetheless some of the fascinating documentaries I’ve ever watched on Netflix. 

It tells the story of Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who tried to construct a big sprawling commune, for what was basically a intercourse cult, in the US. It’s a wierd story that one way or the other turns into stranger with age. Very similar to Tiger King, the story plumbs depths you received’t imagine. At occasions it’s a slog, however Wild Wild Nation is totally worthwhile.


I completely adore this documentary. 5 present acclaimed administrators (together with Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola) assist inform the story of 5 well-known film administrators from the ’30s and ’40s who did frontline work throughout the Second World Conflict. It wraps their legacies alongside the affect of the conflict itself into a really compelling story of Hollywood’s golden age.


An Oscar winner for Netflix, this documentary is the primary produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s Greater Floor Productions workforce. 

American Manufacturing facility tells the story of Fuyao, a Chinese language firm that constructed a manufacturing unit in Ohio that inhabits a now-closed Basic Motors plant. It’s a must to watch this film.


Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Wealthy (2020)

By this level all of us have some type of understanding of Jeffrey Epstein’s story however Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Wealthy does itself an awesome service by specializing in the tales of the survivors of his abuse.

The Cinemart/Hulu

Fyre: The Biggest Social gathering That By no means Occurred (2019)

Hulu additionally has an awesome Fyre pageant documentary, however I desire this Netflix one. Not like many Netflix documentaries, that are stretched and bloated into multipart episodes, this documentary is sharp, direct and stable gold all the means by way of.

James Bond Films Ranked, From Sean Connery to Daniel Craig

See all images