Top 25 Best Documentary Films on Netflix Of All Time (2023)

Please bookmark this page as we celebrate and list what is deemed the Top 25 Highest Rated and Best Netflix Documentary Films of All Time.

Documentary films are by far the most underappreciated film genre on the planet. They have the ability to not just educate but move you in ways you never expected, even expose you to a world you may have never known existed or experienced. So, it’s only right that the world’s biggest original streaming content provider on the planet gets its very original and very best documentary film list. One that accounts for every original Netflix documentary ever to stream and we rank based on objective recognition.

At Ready Steady Cut, we are constantly challenged to find the best original Netflix documentary films. If you are still deciding what to watch next, bookmark this page as we list what are deemed the Best, Highest Rated Netflix documentary films of All Time. We’ve used Rotten Tomatoes as the benchmark, but we will also share the IMDB rating to give you a sense of difference in objectivity. On top of this, if we have reviewed it on our site, we will also share the review with you.

We will update this page every two months so audiences can keep up to date on the latest best, and most popular Netflix shows as part of their subscription.

The Top 25 Highest-Rated Netflix Documentary Films of All Time

25. American Factory (2019)

“Barack and Michelle Obama’s first-ever produced film, American Factory, is wonderfully insightful, showing two opposing worlds in the same industry.”

Official Premise:

“In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.”

Directors: Julia Reichert, Steven Bognar

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95% (94 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 7.4/10

24. Girl in the Picture (2022)

Girl in the Picture will satisfy true crimes fans’ fix for real-life mysteries, but this time the victim’s tragedy and despair are more haunting than most.”

Official Premise:

“A young mother’s mysterious death and her son’s subsequent kidnapping open a decades-long mystery.”

Director: Sky Borgman

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96% (26 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 7.2/10

23. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (2020)

The New York Times’s film critic Natalia Winkelman proclaims, “The film’s grand achievement is that it positions its subject as a mediator between humans and the natural world.”

Official Premise:

“In his 93 years, Attenborough has visited every continent on the globe, exploring the wild places of the planet and documenting the living world in all its variety and wonder. But during his lifetime, Attenborough has also seen first-hand the monumental scale of humanity’s impact on nature.”

Director: Alastair Fothergill, Jonnie Hughes, Keith Scholey

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96% (23 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 8.9/10

22. 13th (2018)

Here at Ready Steady Cut, we said, “This documentary explores the inherent racism that’s been woven into America’s history to present day. America is 5% of the world’s population but has 25% of the world’s prisoners. Known as the land of the free, the United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. This documentary explores the implications of social exclusion on a person due to their ancestry. They go through each decade step by step.”

Official Premise:

“Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans/”

Director: Ava DuVernay

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97% (108 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 8.2/10

21. The Tinder Swindler (2021)

“At two hours long, this documentary film is a great watch.”

Official Premise:

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“A group of women who were the victims of a dating app-based swindler join together in an attempt to hunt him down and recover the millions of dollars that were stolen from them.”

Director: Felicity Morris

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97% (31 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 7.1/10

20. The Edge of Democracy (2019)

“Netflix documentary The Edge of Democracy is a dense, deep-rooted documentary offering insight into Brazil’s recent political history.”

Official Premise:

“The beleaguered leaders of Brazil are followed as they deal with their ideologically divided country.”

Director: Petra Costa

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97% (36 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 7.2/10

19. Tell Me Who I Am (2019)

“Netflix’s Tell Me Who I Am is a well-made, dark, tragic, and often painful-to-watch documentary. A must-watch of 2019, and one that is handled with care.

Official Premise:

“When Alex loses his memory after a serious motorcycle accident, he trusts his twin Marcus to tell him about his past, but he later discovers that Marcus is hiding a dark family secret.”

Director: Ed Perkkns

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97% (37 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 7.6/10

18. Procession (2021)

Guy Lodge of Variety says, “Robert Greene’s signature mode of performance-based documentary finds potent purpose in this shattering study of six abuse survivors processing their pain through art.”

Official Premise:

“Six men who suffered sexual abuse by Catholic priests band together to become a makeshift family, and find empowerment by creating fictional scenes depicting rituals of power in the church.”

Director: Robert Greene

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98% (42 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 7.2/10

17. A Homecoming: A Film by Beyonce (2019)

Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé is a comprehensive and impactful portrait of a cultural icon making history.”

Official Premise:

“This intimate, in-depth look at Beyoncé’s celebrated 2018 Coachella performance reveals the emotional road from creative concept to cultural movement.”

Director:Beyonce, Ed Burke

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98% (57 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 7.5 /10

16. “Sr.” (2022)

“A film about the connections between family, art, and everything in between, “Sr.” is not just a celebration of a nonconformist filmmaker’s punk rock rebellion and “go f*ck yourself” attitude, but how the man and his maverick offspring saved their own lives by moving forward, never back.”

Official Premise:

“Robert Downey Jr. pays tribute to his late father in this documentary chronicling the life and eclectic career of pioneering filmmaker Robert Downey Sr.”

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Director: Robert Downey, Jr.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98% (58 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 7.3/10

15. Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen

Empire Magazine’s Ben Travis proclaims Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen, “A captivating and comprehensive overview of trans representations in the media that everyone should add to their Netflix watchlist.”

Official Premise:

“Examining Hollywood’s depiction of transgender people and the impact it’s left on both the transgender community and American culture.”

Director: Sam Feder

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98% (59 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 8.1/10

14. Circus of Books (2019)

“At the heart of Circus of Books is a fascinating lens through which to view America’s changing relationship with the LGBTQ+ community, with the central family acting as a surrogate for ‘straight’ America. With a bit more polishing one feels as though that story could be told more strongly, nevertheless this is a charming doc with a valuable and important story to tell.”

Official Premise:

“A couple takes over a Los Angeles adult book store in 1976, and it becomes the biggest distributor of gay p**n in the United States.”

Director: Rachel Mason

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98% (59 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 7.8/10

13. Shirkers (2018)

“This is a strange, moving, often hopeful, and sometimes crushing documentary that tells a story as surreal as any presented on-screen this year. The tragedy of it is that in its bizarre excellence, it represents a talent that presumably the original, stolen version would have contained a raw and unrefined version of; the kind of film that any cinephile would love to see and champion and preserve.

Official Premise:

“In 1992 teenager Sandi Tan shoots Singapore’s first road movie with her enigmatic American mentor, Georges, who then absconded with all of the footage. The 16 mm film is recovered 20 years later, sending Tan, who is now a novelist living in Los Angeles, on a personal odyssey in search of Georges’ footprints.”

Director: Sandi Tan

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99% (78 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 7.4/10

12. Dick Johnson is Dead (2020)

Kirsten Johnson’s documentary film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance while also winning the prestigious U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award, Dick Johnson is Dead was nominated for over 50 film society’s list for best documentary film.

Official Premise:

“As her father nears the end of his life, filmmaker Kirsten Johnson stages his death in inventive and comical ways to help them both face the inevitable.”

Director: Kirsten Johnson

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99% (98 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 7.4/10

11. Knock Down the House (2019)

Knock Down the House showcases the mountains grassroots politicians were up against in the 2018 U.S Congressional Election.”

Official Premise:

“A young bartender in the Bronx, a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia, a grieving mother in Nevada, and a registered nurse in Missouri build a movement of insurgent candidates to challenge powerful incumbents in Congress. One of their races will become the most shocking political upsets in recent American history.”

Director: Rachel Lears

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99% (108 reviews)

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IMDB Rating: 7.3/10

10. Recovery Boys (2018)

“Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s film is authentic, unyielding in its focus, honest to a fault, and offers outcomes never on solid ground. It may not be an entertaining 90 minutes, but it’s a work of uncompromising art because of how real it is. It’s close to a masterpiece.”

Official Premise:

“Four men support each other as they try to rebuild their lives and mend their broken relationships after years of addiction and drug abuse.”

Director: Elaine McMillion Sheldon

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100% (12 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 6.7/10

9. Stutz (2022)

“A calming and poignant documentary that in itself is a humorous, vulnerable, and ultimately therapeutic experience.”

Official Premise:

“In candid conversations with actor Jonah Hill, leading psychiatrist Phil Stutz explores his early life experiences and unique, visual model of therapy.”

Director: Jonah Hill

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100% (20 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 7.9/10

8. The Bleeding Edge (2018)

“The line that struck me most from Kirby Dick’s damning documentary about big medical is when it comes down to medicine or marketing. The latter wins every time. We are the guinea pigs, and the FDA doesn’t have our backs. You’ve been warned

Official Premise:

“Filmmaker Kirby Dick examines the $400 billion medical device industry and the profit-driven mindset that rushes implanted devices into the marketplace with proper clinical trials.”

Director: Kirby Dick

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

IMDB Rating: 7.6/10

7. Chasing Coral (2017)

This Netflix nature documentary was nominated for 18 awards, including a Critics Choice Award for Best Documentary, winner of the News & Documentary Emmy Award for Best Documentary, and the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for Best Documentary.

Official Premise:

“Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. Divers, photographers, and scientists set out on an ocean adventure to discover why the reefs are disappearing and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world.”

Director: Jeff Orlowski

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100% (32 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 8.1/10

6. Is That Black Enough for You? (2022)

Is That Black Enough for You?!? is something that should be viewed by anyone that loves film. You show up to understand the history of Black cinema. But stay for the stories told by the men and women who lived it—a brilliant can’t-miss documentary.”

Official Premise:

“Film critic Elvis Mitchell examines the craft and power of African American films released from the landmark era of the 1970s.”

Director: Elvis Mitchell

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100% (40 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 7.3/10

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At Ready Steady Cut, we said, “ “

5. Strong Island (2017)

“In all its glory, Strong Island is as intimate as documentaries get. I was initially taken aback. Many documentaries have an emotional outlet from someone, but this speech delivers something more raw than usual. I could feel the pain.

Official Premise:

“When filmmaker Yance Ford investigates the 1992 murder of a young black man, it becomes an achingly personal journey since the victim, 24-year-old William Ford Jr., was the filmmaker’s brother.”

Director: Yance Ford

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100% (48 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 6.4/10

4. A Secret Love (2020)

Sneakily powerful revelations are in how despite this, Donahue and Henschel have lived full lives, often independently and in secret, but nonetheless in a rich and fulfilling way. – Jonathan Wilson, Ready Steady Cut

Official Premise:

“Amid shifting times, a former baseball player keeps her lesbian relationship a secret from her family for seven decades.”

Director: Chris Bolan

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100% (60 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 7.8/10

3. Athlete A (2020)

Athlete A is insightful and upsetting at the same time and it’s difficult not to wonder how many other organizations out there have the same, silent, systematic problem.”

Official Premise:

Reporters from The Indianapolis Star expose the toxic culture inside USA Gymnastics as the truth about Dr. Larry Nassar sexually abusing young gymnasts comes out.”

Director: Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100% (60 reviews_

IMDB Rating: 7.6/10

2. Descendant (2022)

“Margaret Brown’s film is equally fascinating as it is riveting, Descendant is an extraordinary documentary about oral histories, gatekeeping, and community. Margaret Brown’s film is like no other.”

Official Premise:

“Descendants of the survivors from the Clotilda celebrate their heritage and take command of their legacy, as the discovery of the remains of the last-known slave ship to arrive in the United States offers them a tangible link to their ancestors.”

Director: Margaret Brown

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100% (68 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 7.1/10

At Ready Steady Cut, we said

1. Crip Camp (2020)

“Netflix documentary film Crip Camp is infectious and inspiring, showing a grandstanding moment in history for the disability community in the USA.”

Official Premise:

“A groundbreaking summer camp for teens with disabilities proves so inspiring that a group of its alumni join the radical disability rights movement to advocate for historic legislation changes.”

Director: James Lebrecht, Nicole Newnham

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100% (100 reviews)

IMDB Rating: 7.7/10

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And that completes our Top 25 Highest Rated and Best Netflix Documentary Films of All Time list. What’s your favorite Documentary Filmon Netflix? Comment below.

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What is the most viewed Netflix documentary? ›

"Harry and Meghan" is Netflix's highest viewed documentary ever - CBS News.

What's the best documentary on Netflix at the moment? ›

Best Netflix Documentaries 2021
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What is considered the best documentary of all time? ›

Best documentaries of all time
  • Shoah (1985) ...
  • Sans Soleil (1983) ...
  • The Thin Blue Line (1988) ...
  • Night and Fog (1955) ...
  • Harlan County U.S.A. (1976) ...
  • Dont Look Back (1967) ...
  • The War Game (1965) ...
  • Nanook of the North (1922)
Oct 12, 2022

Does Netflix have documentary series? ›

Netflix has a bountiful of great documentaries that cover a diverse range of subjects, from true crime to sports to even filmmaking.

What are 5 most watched Netflix? ›

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What is the number 1 Netflix movie? ›

You People

What has been on Netflix top 10 the longest? ›

TOP 10 on Netflix in the World with the longest streak
1.Squid Game53 days
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158 more rows

What's the latest documentary on Netflix? ›

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4 days ago

What documentary has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes? ›

To date, Leave No Trace holds the site's record, with a rating of 100% and 251 positive reviews.

Does Netflix have good documentaries? ›

  • Harry & Meghan.
  • Life After Death with Tyler Henry.
  • MADOFF: The Monster of Wall Street.
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  • Wild Babies.
  • Greatest Events of WWII in Colour.
  • How to Change Your Mind.
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Who makes the best documentary films? ›

Top Documentary Production Companies
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Where can I find good documentaries? ›

  • Kanopy. Best for Educational and Family Content. ...
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  • MagellanTV. ...
  • PBS Documentaries.

What are the 5 types of documentaries? ›

The 6 Types of Documentary Films
  • Poetic Documentaries.
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  • Reflexive Documentaries.
  • Performative Documentaries.
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What celebrity has a Netflix documentary? ›

Inspiring Documentaries
  • Dolly Parton: Here I Am.
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What is the top 10 list on Netflix? ›

Most Popular on Netflix: A Look at Today's Top 10
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What is most liked on Netflix? ›

Popular on Netflix
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What is the longest #1 show on Netflix? ›

This is the premise of The Umbrella Academy, which has spent 30 days at No. 1 on Netflix worldwide. The third season of the beloved series was released in summer 2022, with the fourth and final season already in production.

What was the most watched Netflix 2022? ›

Netflix announces 2022's most popular shows and movies. Check full list here
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Dec 30, 2022

What is the oldest series on Netflix? ›

Netflix debuted its first original content series, "Lilyhammer," in 2012 and introduced the binge-watching concept of releasing TV series all at once; "House of Cards" arrived the following year. Three years later, Netflix was touting roughly 126 original series or films.

What is the best movie based on a True Story? ›

The best movies based on true stories
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What is the saddest movie based on True Story? ›

Based of a memoir written by an actual Holocaust survivor, The Pianist may even be the saddest movie of all time.

What new Netflix movie is based on a True Story 2022? ›

The Swimmers (2022)

The Swimmers tells the true story of sisters Yusra and Sara Mardini (played by fellow sisters Nathalie and Manal Issa), Syrian swimmers trained to compete at the Olympics.

What is a good documentary to listen to? ›

The Best Documentaries of 2022
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Are there any new serial killer documentaries on Netflix? ›

Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes is a 2021 Netflix original documentary by Michael Harte. The one-and-a-half-hour-long documentary is a first-hand testimony of Dennis Nilsen, a serial killer who murdered nearly 15 to 16 men in London.

What movies have 100% ratings? ›

Rotten Tomatoes: 9 movies with a perfect 100% score that you need to watch
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What is the 100 rated on Netflix? ›

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According to Rotten Tomatoes, here are the worst-rated shows of 2022 (so far)
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What is the best true crime on Netflix? ›

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What are the 6 types of documentaries? ›

In 1991, American film critic and theoretician Bill Nichols proposed that there were six different modes of documentary—poetic, expository, reflexive, observational, performative, and participatory—each containing its own specific characteristics.

Are there any good documentaries on Amazon Prime? ›

The best documentaries on Amazon Prime Video (October 2022)
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What is the highest grossing documentary? ›

Fahrenheit 9/11

What is the most rewatched film? ›

The 31 Most Rewatchable Movies Ever Made
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  • The Princess Bride (1987) ...
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Has a documentary ever won the best picture Oscar? ›

No documentary feature has yet been nominated for Best Picture, although Chang was nominated in the "Unique and Artistic Production" category at the 1927/28 awards.

Where are the best true crime documentaries? ›

The Best True Crime Documentaries to Stream Now
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Dec 12, 2022

How can I watch all documentaries for free? ›

Watch Free Documentaries Online

Watch documentaries online at where you'll find an amazing collection of documentaries and television programs including FRONTLINE, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and POV.

Is watching documentaries good for your brain? ›

It's a fun way to keep your brain active – Documentaries keep your brain active by giving your mind new information to absorb and think about. Without active learning and engaging yourself, our minds often stagnate and become stuck in the same patterns of thinking.

What was the first documentary? ›

The 1922 movie "Nanook of the North" follows a charismatic real character in a distant land. Though in truth filmmaker Robert Flaherty fudged a few facts, and staged a few scenes, it's generally considered the world's first documentary.

What were the first documentaries? ›

The first two popular documentaries were “Man with a Movie Camera” (1929) and “Nanook of the North” (1922) and they are quite different in their approach and style, good examples of different documentary forms.

What is the most common type of documentary? ›

Expository Documentary Films

One of the most familiar and popular types of documentary is Expository Documentaries. These are designed to help convince, inform or persuade viewers. It uses a narrator throughout the film and often presents an argument for what is right or wrong.

What is #1 on Netflix in the US today? ›

#6 this week. #7 this week. #8 this week. #9 this week.
Top 10 By Country.
#Films in the United StatesWeeks in Top 10
1You People1
3Sing 223
4Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery6
6 more rows

What show has been #1 on Netflix the longest? ›

TOP 10 on Netflix in the World with the longest streak
1.Squid Game53 days
2.Ginny & Georgia49 days
3.The Queen's Gambit46 days
4.Stranger Things44 days
5.Bridgerton39 days
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What was watched the most on Netflix 2022? ›

Netflix's smash hit Stranger Things was the most-streamed program of 2022, with viewers tuning in for 52 billion minutes last year as audiences increasingly opted for streaming platforms' original content, according to ratings firm Nielsen.


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Introduction: My name is Msgr. Benton Quitzon, I am a comfortable, charming, thankful, happy, adventurous, handsome, precious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.