Last Updated: February 8th
Streaming video is the best thing that’s ever happened to documentaries. People who would never have paid for a ticket to a theatrical nonfiction film are now, thanks to Netflix’s robust selection, scarfing down the stuff by the barrel. But where to start among the masses? Here are 20 of the best documentaries on Netflix right now to get you going, covering a variety of themes and real stories.
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.
Run Time: 100 min | IMDb: 8.2/10
This 2016 documentary from Ava DuVernay won an Emmy and was nominated for an Oscar during awards season two years ago. The film chronicles the justice system’s abuses against black people, making a case for institutionalized racism being a problem in America that’s only emboldened by the prison cycle. DuVernay boldly explores how prisons and detention centers are making a profit off of free prison labor, most of it done by black men which begs the question, is slavery really dead?