Last Updated: September 25th
Netflix usually steals the spotlight when it comes to documentaries available on streaming platforms, but if you’re only looking there for interesting, investigative filmmaking, you’re really missing out. That’s because Hulu, that on-demand service that lets you catch up on new episodes of your favorite shows, has decided to dip its toe into the genre. Actually, scratch that, Hulu has decided to cannonball into the deep end when it comes to documentaries. Don’t believe us? Here are some of the better titles in their impressive arsenal.
Fyre Fraud (2019)
Run Time: 96 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
The war of the Fyre docs kicked off earlier this year with Hulu releasing their surprise flick just days before Netflix’s planned exposé. Both films rehash the same basic plot: a young entrepreneur scams thousands of millennials and investors out of millions of dollars, but Hulu’s takes a closer look the aftermath and damage caused by Billy McFarland and Ja Rule, interviewing the man in question and looking at the events of the Fyre Festival disaster with a critical eye.
Free Solo (2018)
Run Time: 100 min | IMDb: 8.3/10
Free solo climbers are a breed all their own and this latest doc about the adventurist community certainly proves it. Alex Honnold, a talented free soloist climber, chronicles his journey to achieve his dream of climbing the face of the world’s most famous rock, the 3,000ft El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, without a rope in this harrowing portrait that’s equal parts inspiring and terrifying.
Love, Gilda (2018)
Run Time: 88 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
Before the Tina Feys, Amy Poehlers, and Maya Rudolphs of the world made Saturday Night Live a female-led powerhouse, comedian Gilda Radner starred on the sketch comedy series. She’s an icon, an absolute legend in the world of stand-up, and she played her bigger-than-life characters on the show with a kind of quirky abandon that made you laugh at them and care for them all at once. This doc looks back at her career, her struggles in an industry that wasn’t always accepting of her gender, and her brushes with more serious issues, like illness and eating disorders. Despite those serious topics, it’s a breezy, feel-good watch for comedy lovers of every generation.
Run Time: 98 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Before she was the poster child for the latest feminist movement, a Twitter icon, and a staple of Kate McKinnon’s comedy routine on Saturday Night Live, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a woman fighting her way to the top in a very male-dominated field. To get really inspired by the Notorious RBG, you need to see her life and her struggle up close and personal, which is where this doc comes in. With the help of some of the most famous feminists of a generation, this film hopes to chronicle the lesser-known journey RBG went on before she became a pop culture icon.
The Wolfpack (2015)
Run Time: 90 min | IMDb: 7/10
The Angulo family serves as the subject of this fascinating doc that follows a group of kids, who are trapped inside their four-bedroom home in Manhattan, learning about the world from watching old movies. The family’s seven children, six brothers and one sister, were homeschooled and confined to their apartment in the city by their parents for very strange reasons. The film is a juicy look into an urban fable and how a dysfunctional family managed to hide their secrets for so long.
Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (2011)
Run Time: 81 min | IMDb: 7.9/10
David Gelb’s meditative-yet-jaunty peek inside sushi chef Jiro Ono’s long road to culinary perfection has proven such a sleeper hit on Netflix that the streaming service hired Gelb to make its nonfiction food series, Chef’s Table. Whet your appetite for foodie docs with Jiro, which, in addition to showing us the process behind maintaining the high standards of a three-Michelin-star sushi restaurant (even a tiny one), also doubles as a serious meditation on family legacy.
The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years (2016)
Run Time: 137 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
Set during the touring years of The Beatles’ career, from 1962-1966, director Ron Howard crafts an intimate portrayal of the world’s most popular band with the help of both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with widows Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison. Featuring 4K restorations of some of the band’s most memorable concerts, this documentary is a must for any film lover, Beatles fan or otherwise.
Too Funny To Fail (2017)
Run Time: 92 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
This Hulu doc charts the meteoric rise of Dana Carvey and the just a swift failure of his self-named sketch comedy series on ABC. Carvey gained a following after his turn on Saturday Night Live, and he was positioned to headline what should’ve been a successful comedy show of his own, but Carvey and his writing partner, Robert Smigel, took things in a different direction. The two men recruited unknown talent (Steve Carrel and Stephen Colbert to name two) and delighted in producing a bizarre, subversive show that should never have made it to network TV. Marvel at the oddity that was the show along with Carvey and the rest of the crew with this flick.
Run Time: 92 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
The best documentaries shine a spotlight on the strange, the submersed communities and lifestyles living amongst us. They ask as many questions as they answer and prod at the unknown. They also, sometimes, make us ridiculously uncomfortable, as is the case with Tickled. Journalist David Farrier stumbles upon a mysterious tickling competition online and delves into the mysterious world of this closely-guarded fetish, facing push-back and suspicion at every turn. We could say more, but this is a film best watched without any preamble.
Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me (2014)
Run Time: 116 min | IMDb: 8/10
Country music-legend Glen Campbell and his wife Kim invite viewers on their heartbreaking journey through the singer’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Campbell embarks on a farewell tour after learning of the progression of the disease, playing with his children to sold out crowds even as he struggles to complete the simplest of tasks at home. It’s through Kim that we see the real toll this illness takes though as she fights for better research and for her husband’s quality of life.
Three Identical Strangers (2018)
Run Time: 96 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
Triplets Robert Shafran, Eddy Galland and David Kellman were separated at birth by an adoption agency called Louise Wise Services. Their families weren’t told of their siblings, and the boys were unknowingly subjected to years of scientific study by child psychiatrist Dr. Peter Neubauer. This doc takes a look at the ethics behind testing on children (the brothers weren’t the only kids involved in this scheme) and examines the lasting trauma a situation like this leaves on those involved. It’s a twisted, can’t-look-away kind of film.
Waiting for Superman (2010)
Run Time: 111 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
The American education system is held up to a harsh light in this documentary which follows a handful of families trying to get their children into better-performing schools, and the bureaucracy that entails. From teacher’s unions fighting against poor pay and confusing state guidelines to kids falling through the cracks because of their race and poverty level, the film exposes a growing problem in our school systems, one we’re in no way prepared to fix.
Run Time: 90 min | IMDb: 8.2/10
This Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary tells the unbelievably inspiring story of Hatidze, a bee-hunter in North Macedonia who represents a dying breed of ecological custodians. Hatidze and her ailing mother live on a remote mountain range, where she peacefully coexists with the bees whose honey is her livelihood, but when new neighbors arrive to disrupt this fragile harmony, Hatidze must fight for her simple way of life. It’s a moving, intimate portrait of an inspiring woman, and a larger commentary on how our greed and ignorance can irreparably damage our surroundings.
Run Time: 90 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
Brett Morgen gives us an ode to celebrated primatologist, ethologist, and anthropologist Jane Goodall with this simply-named doc that explores her scientific beginnings. Before she became one of the leading voices in the community thanks to her revolutionary work with chimpanzees, Goodall fought against the male-dominated climate of her time, asserting her right to challenge the status quo and eventually open minds to things like conservative efforts and primate genealogy.
Minding The Gap (2018)
Run Time: 93 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
This brutally honest documentary chronicles the lives of three young men who bond over their shared love of skateboarding. For the trio, skating provides a needed escape from their volatile family life, and the film doesn’t shy away from showing that in detail, from drug abuse to child abuse and poverty, the doc touches on the painful circumstance that force kids to grow up too soon.