Today, one of the most accessible and quick ways to learn something new is by watching a documentary – and we can almost guarantee that there’s at least one out there for any subject you might be interested in. To help you navigate, we browsed through Netflix in search of some of the most eye-opening, inspiring and fascinating docus of the past decade. Keep reading to discover the top nine shows and movies we found and even watch some full features and episodes right here..
1. The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson
With Pride month upon us, one of the most valuable movies you can watch right now is The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, which launched on Netflix in 2017. It offers a deeply compelling look at the murder of a transgender legend, who was known as “the Rosa Parks of the LGBT movement” and a key figure in the Stonewall uprising of 1969. You’ve probably seen their picture all over your Instagram feed recently, so now would be a great time to learn more about this equally inspiring and tragic life story…
Last month, Netflix released the much-talked-about Becoming – a documentary that offers an intimate look into the life of former First Lady Michelle Obama. It follows her as she embarks on a 34-city tour that highlights the power of community to bridge our divides and the spirit of connection that comes when we openly and honestly share our stories. Expect a rare and up-close look at her life that is sure to leave you feeling inspired.
3. Chasing Coral
We all know that our planet’s coral reefs are endangered – but do you know what this might mean for our collective future? Chasing Coral follows a group of coral experts as they invent the first time-lapse camera to record and document the indisputable and tragic transformation below the waves. With its breathtaking photography, nail-biting suspense, and startling emotion, Chasing Coral is a dramatic revelation that won’t have audiences sitting idle for long.
4. Time: The Kalief Browder Story
This series traces the tragic case of Kalief Browder, a Bronx teen who spent three years in jail, despite never being convicted of a crime. The criminal justice system failed him at 16 years old, and his story – and the challenges it poses to a basic understanding of American liberties – are central to this six-part documentary. Using first-person accounts, archival footage, and cinematic re-creations of key scenes from Browder’s life, it’s offers a comprehensive review of the complex case.
5. One Of Us
Spanning three years, One of Us explores the opaque world of Hasidic Judaism through a cadre of fascinating characters. Delve into the lives of three brave individuals who have recently made the decision to leave the insular ultra-orthodox community at the expense of all else, including relationships with their family members and – in one case – their personal safety. If you recently watched Unorthodox, this is the real-life story you should also know about.
This enlightening explainer series takes viewers deep inside a wide range of culturally relevant topics, questions, and ideas, as each episode explores current events and social trends. From an episode on COVID-19 to one depicting the world’s water crisis and the above explaining the racial wealth gap, these episodes pulled from the zeitgeist will quickly make you understand the world around you a lot better.
Extremely topical right now, Ava DuVernay’s acclaimed documentary refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The progression from that second qualifying clause to the horrors of mass criminalisation and the sprawling American prison industry is laid out with a potent mixture of archival footage and testimony from a dazzling array of activists, politicians, historians, and formerly incarcerated women and men.
The docu-film Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a captive killer whale that has taken the lives of several people, and highlights the immense problems within the sea-park industry. Also touching on man’s relationship to nature and how little has been learned about these highly intelligent mammals, the film will challenge some of what you think you know and make you think twice about visiting that aquarium on your next vacation…
9. Living Undocumented
Across six emotional episodes, Living Undocumented follows eight undocumented immigrant families who have volunteered to tell their stories as they face potential deportation. Ranging from harrowing to hopeful, their journeys illuminate and humanise the complex US immigration system and depict the struggles that many must endure in their quest to pursue the American dream…