The genre of documentaries is getting more and more popular, with many of the best getting released on websites such as Netflix! Due to the ever-increasing attention given to both environmental issues and human rights issues, the genre that was once viewed for the more “intellectual” among us has lost much of its stigma.
To prove our point, you can just look at Netflix, one of the best websites to watch movies that brings to you a myriad of TV shows and movies in the genre.
If you’ve never really explored this part of the catalog but you’re interested in getting to know some of these pieces? Well, grab your popcorn, get comfortable on your couch and check out down below our list with all the best documentaries on Netflix!
Index of this article
1. Our Planet
To start off the list with the best documentaries you can find on Netflix, we have Our Planet, an eight-episode show about the relationship between humankind and the planet it lives on. Each episode will have a focus on a different habitat, including forests, oceans, and frozen areas.
The show gets its spotlight not only due to its impressive visuals but also because of how well it shows just how humans are destroying the planet by doing things that often we don’t even realize we are doing. If you want to watch it, follow this link.
2. Period. End Of Sentence.
Winner of the 2018 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject), Period. End Of Sentence. tells the story of a group of women living in the most rural parts of India, a place that has a very strong stigma and that views periods in a very bad light, to the point of segregation.
The documentary tells the story of the women who live in this rural community, and in particular a group of women who have developed a machine capable of producing low-cost biodegradable sanitary pads.
The new arrival of these pads ended up making this product much more accessible, which in turn helped women in reaching their financial independence and improving a major public health issue.
Most of the women shown in the documentary were forced to use a dirty cloth or even leaves to stop their menstrual flow from spreading, which resulted in infections that were made even more serious due to their living conditions. Watch it right now on Netflix!
3. Killer Ratings
A documentary of Brazilian origin makes its way into the list with the best ones you can find on Netflix. Killer Ratings is a documentary TV show that narrates the story of Wallace Souza, the founder of an extremely popular show that exposed crimes, called Canal Livre.
The popularity of the show even got him a job as a congressman in his State. However, the catch is that all the crimes he showed in his program were planned and executed by none other than himself, in order to increase his ratings.
If you’ve ever watched the Nightcrawler movie and liked it, you should put Killer Ratings on your shortlist of what to watch next. Follow this link to watch it!
4. American Murder: The Family Next Door
A Netflix original documentary, American Murder: The Family Next Door tells a horrifying and infuriating story: that of the 2018 Watts family murders. It uses of many sources of information, including social media posts, recordings from law enforcement, text messages, and even home video footage to better depict the story.
It follows the sudden disappearance of pregnant Shanann Watts and her two young children. It is later revealed that her husband, the father of the children, was responsible for murdering them. This is truly a shocking documentary, but it is worth watching. To do so, follow this link.
5. World War II In HD Colour
If you’re a history buff, but the Second World War is not your strong suit, you really should consider watching World War II In HD Colour, a documentary that will help just about anyone in better understanding the events that occurred.
Through many documents and rare images that were digitally colorized, this documentary portrays some of the strategies that were used in many of the battles.
This 13 episode series shows its viewers some of the most important moments during the War, such as Hitler’s decision to invade Russia, as well as when the United States joined the War, something that happened in retaliation to the Japanese attack to the Pearl Harbor base. Watch this documentary on Netflix, which is also featured among the apps to watch anime!
6. Inside World’s Toughest Prisons
One of the best documentaries on Netflix, Inside World’s Toughest Prisons has four seasons, with a fifth underway. It shows the life inside some of the highest-security and harshest prisons around the world, with 16 episodes so far. It follows the perspective of the prisoners, which is a great thing since they’re the ones most affected by the conditions.
In this incredible series, you will be able to find out a lot about some of the biggest problems many prisons face, from countries such as Honduras, Poland, Brazil, Ukraine, and much more. Find out more about it by following this link.
7. The Great Hack
If you feel insecure about the sheer amount of information and data access that the largest tech companies around, you should really give The Great Hack a shot. Released in July of 2019 on Netflix, the TV show sheds some light on just how available your personal information is on the web, and how it can be used.
It certainly is one of the best documentaries on Netflix for anyone who wants to learn more about social media platforms.
Our biggest recommendation if you plan on watching it is: don’t go in expecting to be scared or frightened but to gain more knowledge about how much of your privacy you’re giving up on by using digital services. That is, use what you learn in this documentary to make more conscious decisions about your data. Watch The Great Hack by following this link!
8. Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé
If you are a big fan of Beyoncé’s and you still haven’t watched Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé, well, you already know what to watch next! Unlike what you might expect from a documentary about someone, this one won’t give you too many details about her personal life.
Instead, it is particularly focused on the creative process and the backstage of what is one of her largest performances, which took place in 2018, at Coachella.
Described as an “intimate, in-depth look” at the performance that reveals”the emotional road from creative concept to a cultural movement”, in Homecoming, you’ll get to know everything about how she creates and performs at her concerts! Go to Netflix, one of the best video streaming services, right now to watch it.
9. Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom
Nominated to an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2016, Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom is a movie that shows how the student protests in 2013 culminated in an extremely violent response by the police and its largest consequence: 93 days of conflict in defense of the human rights of the country’s population.
Extremely well received by critics, this is another excellent choice if you want to watch something a bit darker. It’s available by following this link!
10. The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes
For those who are into architecture and design, and are looking for something to inspire them, The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes is an amazing option, even more so with its two seasons. It’s a lesson on thinking outside the box, and each episode takes us to a different place in the world with an unconventional house.
In the first season. the presenters take us to projects in different environments, including forests, mountains, and even the coastline. In the second, they’ll visit and show houses in countries such as the USA, Spain, India, Norway, and more. Follow this link to watch its 12 episodes!
Tip: check our guide with the best websites to download videos on the largest video platform on Earth!
11. Tickling Giants
Nothing irritates more powerful people than satire using their image. That is exactly what makes Tickling Giants, directed by Sara Taksler, such a brilliant and amazing documentary, easily earning a spot among the best you can find on Netflix.
In this documentary, you’ll see the story of the Egyptian surgeon-turned-comedian Bassem Youssef. Right in the middle of the Egyptian revolution of 2011, he decided to start working as a full-time comedian, with jokes against the people in power of a country well-known to be undemocratic.
As a response to that, he received many death and injury threats. The documentary impresses due to the level of these threats, as well as a reminder of how important it is to preserve the right to satire and that of freedom of expression. Watch it right now by following this link.
This documentary web television series is one that brings to light questions about the logistics, production, the sale, and the consumption of drugs in several countries, making it one of the best documentaries on Netflix about these themes.
Important for the understanding of many issues related to minimizing the use of drugs, Dope shows the perspective of all those involved in this relationship: public security forces, drug users, and those who deal the drugs.
The series shows a lot of what happens in this world across several countries, including Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and even the USA. Learn everything about this issue by following this link.
13. Wild Wild Country
It is very unlikely that you haven’t heard about the world-renowned guru Osho Rajneesh, more well-known as Osho. This Indian man decides to travel to the United States, where he’ll then start a small town in the middle of the desert of the Oregon state.
Everything starts to go south when the inhabitants of the clandestine city start fighting with the people who lived there before they moved in. This ended up becoming almost a civil war, in which the governor of the small state that neighbors California got deposed.
In Wild Wild Country, you will learn how the small community called Rajneeshpuram started, how it rose to its peak, and how it eventually met its inevitable demise. Follow this link to watch it.
If all you want is to take a break from all the civil wars, the drug-related issues, and all other wars and uncomfortableness, Dogs is a documentary that’ll warm your heart, even more so if you love these pets (or have one!).
Dogs is a show full of moving stories lived by the animals and their owners. This series will show just how important it is for a dog and a human to live together, as well as the impact that they have in one another’s lives. Watch Dogs on Netflix now!
And how, back to the more gut-wrenching documentaries, we also have 13th as another one of the best options to watch on Netflix. This documentary shows how unjust the judicial and prison system in the United States is when it comes to the country’s population of color.
Its name, 13th, is a reference to the 13th amendment of the United States constitution, the one that abolished slavery. An extremely important documentary for anyone to watch, it helps you understand just how racist much of our society is, and how it treats non-white people. Follow this link to watch it.
If you ever get confused, or if you feel a little old (even though you aren’t) when you come across terms such as K-Pop or astrology, among others, Explained is an amazing documentary web show for you, since it explains all of it in 20 minutes per episode!
Willing to better describe and debate current themes, this documentary is one of the most diverse in themes, including for instance music, sexuality, nutrition, and others.
Ideal for you to watch during your lunch break, since it is extremely fun at the same time as you’ll learn, with much more levity than some of the other works we’ve talked about previously. To watch what is another one of the best documentaries on Netflix, follow this link.
17. The Keepers
Ideal for those who are into suspense and investigation of police cases, The Keepers is a documentary series that promises to keep your eyes glued to the screen. This documentary follows the yet-unsolved murder of the Catholic nun Catherine Cesnik
No security or government agency was capable of shedding any light on the crime, but the director of this documentary talks about and follows the suspicion that her murder was a cover-up by the authorities. She would have been killed by a priest she believed to be guilty of sexual assault t o high school students. Watch this harrowing story on Netflix.
18. Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
Released on Netflix shortly before the movie by Zac Efron, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, this documentary is one that will talk about the real-life of the famous serial killer Ted Bundy.
Unlike the movie that dramatizes the life and the crimes of Ted Bundy, in Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes brings to you the perspective of the killer himself about his own crimes. The documentary shows you a timeline, in which you can follow his life even before he’d committed any murders.
By watching this documentary, you can start to understand how the mind of a criminal in this magnitude works. It also criticizes the American judicial system, talking about how it hindered the case. Follow this link to watch it.
An American documentary film created by Bryan Fogel, Icarus was released in 2017 and it won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. From the United States to Russia, Icarus is a story that shows how far the governments are willing to go in order to win some medals.
Their greed resulted in what is one of the highest-scale doping cases in the story of world sports, as is shown by the presenters, an American filmmaker, and a Russian scientist. Go to Netflix, one of the best movie streaming apps on iPhone, to watch this movie.
20. One Strange Rock
For those who want to learn more about our small planet, One Strange Rock might be a good choice among the best documentaries to watch on Netflix. Narrated by none less than Will Smith, this show brings the perspective of several astronauts who have already had the opportunity of seeing our planet from space.
In the documentary, you’ll find amazing images of our planet, photos that were taken in around 45 countries. You’ll be able to see many different animal species, geographic formations, and all sorts of oddities we can find on Earth. Follow this link to watch it!
Much like One Strange Rock, Terra shows our planet, but through an environmental preservation perspective, talking about our destructive behavior when it comes to the places we live in.
This documentary brings stunning shots of many of the amazing environments we have on our planet. A movie that makes us better understand that the lack of compassion for the species that are nearly extinct on Earth can yet make our survival impossible. Watch it on Netflix!
22. The Toys That Made Us
Escaping a bit from how serious many of the best documentaries on Netflix are, The Toys That Made Us will definitely invoke a good nostalgic feeling. This documentary series tells the story of the biggest trends in the toy industry, with curiosities about how they were produced and the sales tactics for children back then.
Did you know that the G.I. Joes were called “action figures” specifically to avoid making it look like parents were buying dolls for their male children (what an outdated view!)? And that the He-Man and the Transformers were created with the specific goal of selling toys?
That (and much more) is the exact kind of thing that you will learn by watching the The Toys That Made Us documentary series! If you want to actually watch it, just follow this link.
23. Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
One of the biggest parties in the world, filled of luxury, beautiful people, and celebrities. That is what the Fyre Festival was meant to be: one of the greatest and most exclusive festivals in the world. However, boosted by social media, it was nothing more than a sham!
The first paying attendees arrived at the location and… they found nothing more than a few trailers available. No stages, no DJs, no expensive drinks, no boasting, and showing off. How did that happen? Well, that’s exactly what this documentary will explore! It is available on Netflix.
24. Take your Pills
Another one of the best documentaries you can watch on Netflix is Take your Pills. Alongside the oil and the food industries, the pharma industry is one of the most criticized around the world, which is only fair, since it is much considered to be “making the disease to sell the cure”.
The Take Your Pills documentary looks to show this dependency relationship we have with many products in order to keep our efficiency up.
It denounces how our competitivity and high-performance focused society create the need for a myriad of pills in order to increase productivity, resulting in alienation and dependency, all while the pharma giants make billions. Watch the documentary by following this link.
25. Abstract: the Art of Design
To finish off our list, we have one that’s unlike most of the best documentaries on Netflix, Abstract: the Art of Design. It doesn’t denounce or criticize anything pertaining the environment or the lives of icons and celebrities. What it does is talk about contemporary art and design!
In the episodes, it shows the different branches of this type of art, interviewing experts and showing their creative processes. Ideal for a better understanding of this work for those who are new to it, or to present new perspectives on how these professionals can use their tools. Follow this link and watch it right now!
Which ones are the best Netflix documentaries in your opinion?
What’s your opinion on the best documentaries to watch on Netflix? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to also check out the best IPTV options to use, the best Kodi addons, the best live TV apps for Android, and the video websites like YouTube!