So, like everyone else you know, you either have watched or are currently watching Making A Murderer, the ten-part, binge-friendly documentary series currently racking up Netflix views and dominating water-cooler conversations. The problem is, those ten hours can go by pretty fast, and once you have time to process the finale, along with reading through all the rebuttal articles and celebrity hot-takes, you might feel as though something’s missing from your life. The good news is that Netflix has no shortage of true crime documentaries for your viewing pleasure, so here’s a look at the ten highest-rated crime documentaries you should horrify your yourself with.
Kids For Cash
Keeping with the ‘corrupt justice system’ theme, this film takes a look at a pair of judges in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, who were known for handing down uncommonly harsh punishments to juveniles in exchange for huge kickbacks. While it spends some time examining how the two judges reacted very differently to the accusations, it also looks at the lives of the children whose lives were changed for the worse by the juvenile detention system as a result.
Cocaine Cowboys: Reloaded
A special 2014 extended edition of the original documentary Cocaine Cowboys, which chronicles the Columbian drug cartel’s takeover of Miami in the late 1970s and early 1980s, ushering in an era of unprecedented crime and violence. The Reloaded version contains several additional minutes of footage and interviews that work to recreate the story in a much more thorough way. The original cut of the film is also available to stream.
The Act of Killing
This Oscar-nominated documentary shows us the life of Anwar Congo, a petty gangster-turned-national hero thanks to his participation in the Indonesian genocide of the mid-1960s, in which it’s estimated that a million people were brutally murdered. A wholly unique approach here, however, is taken by director Joshua Oppenheimer who, along with producers Werner Herzong and Errol Morris, work with Congo to cinematically recreate and then document his memories as a leader of a militant death squad.
Matt Shepard Is A Friend Of Mine
There have been a few documentaries on the subject of Matthew Shepard, the victim of a 1998 hate crime in Laramie, Wyoming. This one, however, takes a much more personal look at Shepard’s life through those that knew him simply as “Matt.” Director Michele Jouse, who was a childhood friend of Shepard’s, said she made the documentary to help preserve who he was beyond his symbolic importance to the LGBT community.
The House I Live In
As comprehensive a look as one can get in a two-hour documentary, The House I Live In is an unflinching indictment of The War on Drugs in the U.S. and includes interviews with everyone from cops, prison guards, scientists, historians, legal experts and reformed criminals. Directed by Eugene Jarecki and brought to the life by executive producers Russell Simmins, John Legend, and Danny Glover, it’s a sobering look at three decades of failed policies and the devastated communities left in their wake.
It’s impossible not to consider Rubble Kings, which looks at 1970s gang life in The Bronx, as a kind of real-life account of The Warriors, when violence and gang warfare had pushed their neighborhood to the brink of destruction. The story centers around the Hoe Avenue peace meeting, which called for a treaty among rival gangs. It also chronicles how the relatively peaceful-era that followed helped to birth the revolutionary hip-hop movement of the ’80s.
The Central Park Five
This 2012 documentary, directed by Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah, and her husband David McMahan, looks at the 1989 “Central Park Jogger Case” in which five minorities were falsely accused of a brutal attack on a 28-year-old investment banker. It’s also known as the case that prompted Donald Trump to take out a full page ad in four publications, declaring the five teens guilty. Inspired by her work as a paralegal for one of the lawyers that was involved, Sarah Burns made the case her undergraduate thesis, focusing on the racism that persisted throughout the media’s coverage.
An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story
It’s a premise that will sound familiar: in 1986, a then-32-year-old Michael Martin was arrested in front of his 3-year-old son for the murder of his wife despite no real evidence. He’d spend the next 25 years behind bars before finally being exonerated in 2011. What’s striking about this 2013 documentary is how Martin, after spending a quarter-century behind bars, has dedicated himself to the spirit of letting go and moving on with his life, creating an unusually uplifting account of a broken justice system.
Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father
This is the kind of documentary with a turn of events so drastic it should come with some kind of warning. Directed and narrated by filmmaker Kurt Kuenne, who set out on a quest to document anyone who had ever known his childhood friend, Andrew Bagby, after he was killed by his ex-girlfriend. Originally intended as a private film to Bagby’s then-unborn son, Zachary, the events that unfold in the murder trial while the filming takes place inspired Kuenne to make the film public.
Part of the BBC’s Storyville series, this documentary recounts the 2012 rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, Jyoti Singh, in Dehli, India. It was first intended to be broadcast worldwide on March 8, 2015 in conjunction with International Women’s Day, but due to the severe criticisms of the Indian government, the police obtained a court order preventing its broadcast in the country, for which the BBC complied. Its air date was moved to March 4 and it broadcast everywhere but India, before being uploaded to YouTube where it became a viral sensation. The following day, India blocked YouTube from within their borders. It’s a response that is almost worth its own documentary, but thankfully the film has established itself as a powerful, controversial statement of women’s inequality.