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“50 Documentaries To See Before You Die” Final Top 10 (How Many Have You Seen?)

"50 Documentaries To See Before You Die" Final Top 10 (How Many Have You Seen?)

Current TV is currently counting down their well-researched list of 50 Documentaries To See Before You Die, doing so in bits and pieces over what seems to be several weeks.

Morgan Spurlock hosts the series, which they are calling a celebration of the most remarkable and moving documentaries released in the past 25 years, examining how the documentary feature has evolved into an increasingly popular genre, becoming a box office draw and impacting contemporary American culture.

The series premiered August 2nd, and has been airing every Tuesday night at 9PM.

The next episode will air tomorrow night, the final episode, when Morgan Spurlock will name the Top 10.

But if you can’t wait until then (and haven’t been following the series), below is the list of the 50 documentaries, including tomorrow’s final top 10, and the #1 doc to see before you die, which I think most of you will be familiar with. I’ve seen exactly 30 of these films; how many have you seen?

50. Spellbound (2002)
49. Truth or Dare (1991)
48. The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)
47. One Day in September (1999)
46. Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1998)
45. The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (1988)
44. Burma VJ (2008)
43. When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006)
42. Catfish (2010)
41. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)
40. When We Were Kings (1996)
39. Biggie & Tupac (2002)
38. March of the Penguins (2005)
37. Inside Job (2010)
36. Taxi to the Dark Side (2007)
35. Paragraph 175 (2000)
34. Brother’s Keeper (1992)
33. Tongues Untied (1989)
32. Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)
31. Jesus Camp (2006)
30. Farhenheit 9/11 (2004)
29. Man on Wire (2008)
28. Gasland (2010)
27. Tarnation (2003)
26. Murderball (2005)
25. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)
24. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996)
23. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2000)
22. Shut Up & Sing (2006)
21. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
20. Capturing the Friedmans (2003)
19. Touching the Void (2003)
18. Food, Inc. (2008)
17. Street Fight (2005)
16. Bus 174 (2002)
15. Crumb (1994)
14. Dark Days (2000)
13. The Fog of War (2003)
12. Bowling for Columbine (2002)
11. Paris Is Burning (1991)
10. Grizzly Man (2005)
9. Trouble the Water (2008)
8. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
7. The Celluloid Closet (1995)
6. The War Room (1993)
5. Supersize Me (2004)
4. Waltz With Bashir (2008)
3. Roger & Me (1989)
2. The Thin Blue Line (1988)
1. Hoop Dreams (1994)

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Comments

Brooke

Add 'Paperclips' and 'Dive' ( doco about dumpster diving and food wastage in the US) and 'Voices of Iraq' and I would almost agree.

BC

I've already seen many and look forward to seeing the rest – already added most to my netflix queue. Some others that I'd recommend (in no particular order): God Grew Tired of Us, Born Into Brothels, Wasteland, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Crazy Love, Forgiving Dr. Mengele, Dear Zachary, Running the Sahara, Red Without Blue, My Kid Could Paint That, You're Gonna Miss Me, Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?

Mike

The Devil's Miner

Nadine

Daughter from Danang http://www.hulu.com/watch/69787/pbs-indies-daughter-from-danang

Robert Robinson

Really? Nothing from the Maysles (Salesman, Grey Gardens) ? And what about The Cove, The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Reifenstahl, Manufactured Consent, Triumph of the Nerds . . . Would also like to see representative works by Nick Broomfield (Selling of a Serial Killer), Alan Berliner (Nobody's Business), and Ross McElwee (Sherman's March) . Would also have included some more obscure films like American Movie, Dancing Outlaw, Project Grizzly. Maybe they should have done the top 100.

Gerald Campbell

Anyone have any idea where these can be seen now that the Current series is over? I'd like to see everyone of them.

andrea burges

I was very interested in no28 GASLAND as this process is being investigated in this country and it is very worrying as not many people are aware of it.

Stephen Levy

Any list that doesn't include "Capturing the Friedmans" cannot be taken too seriously.

tyler euk

wheres a good website to whatch these docs for free? tryed youtube but only a few came up

artbizzy

I've seen about 12 of these.

Here are some standouts:
"Capturing The Friedman's" disturbed me for about two days. Great, truly moving documentary, well worth seeing.

"Crumb" is also excellent. R. Crumb's family is something else.

"Truth or Dare" loved this one, too. Takes me back to that club scene in the early 90's.

steve

I have seen 18 (grizzly man my favorite ,love Werner just saw his latest Cave of forgotten dreams and it was excellent). Think I would of included Paperclips ,The cove and If a tree falls (story of the earth liberation front). I would not count Waltz with Bashir a doc but I guess some might. Good list . I will be checking out the ones Ive not seen. Thanks

JM Harrison

Some truly great movies get the respect they deserve! I'm surprised that Jamie Johnson's "The Top Ten Percent" didn't make the list (or the comments so far). It may not be that well known. It an inside perspective on the perception on the wealthy and their different world. The inequality it covers is the big issue, at the heart of the socioeconomic problems covered in the Moore movies, like "Farenheit 9/11," "Roger & Me," "Sicko," and "Capitalism: A love Affair." It movingly reveals the mentality of the rich, Yet it's a family story, a personal account of what it's like to be in the top 1%. I loved it!

Eric

Any list with more Moore than Herzog is flawed

Dan Leon

How about Who Killed the Electric Car?

Mali Irvin

Some great ones that haven’t been mentioned:

1. China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
2. Mardi Gras: Made in China
3. DAM/AGE: Arundhati Roy and the Narmada Dam Project
4. Mississippi Burning – I CAN”T BELIEVE THEY LEFT THIS ONE OUT!!!
5. Good Hair
6. The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo
7. On the Edge: The Femicide of Ciudad Juarez
8. Promises: The Israel-Palestine Conflict from the Perspective of Children
9. Smile PINKI
10. The Abortion Pill
11. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
12. Project Pipe(line) Dreams
13. A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains
14. The Lazarus Effect

Perhaps these films were controversial, even for Current TV.

Jeff

Where on earth is Gates of Heaven, the pet cemetery doc?

Thirteen

There is one doc miss in my opinion:

The Vanishing of the Bees narrated by Ellen Page

Fckthewrld420

What about Super HIGH me with Doug benson????
Great doc about medical marijuana!!!! 420 all day

Kimberly

It was a pretty good list of documentaries though I thought it was missing a few such as Capitalism: A Love Story, Paper Clips, My Run, Facing Ali, Trekkies and The Last Waltz!

Hart Noecker

NOT A SINGLE MENTION OF THE DOC THAT CREATED THE ENTIRE GENRE: HEARTS AND MINDS? FOR SHAME!!!!!!!!!

Ken with Muse

50 Docs to See List Before you Die is missing one of the all time best documentary movies…The 11th Hour …this 2007 documentary film, produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio… What the H-E- double hockey sticks Current TV !. Get with the program…

TerryG

Proud to say I’ve seen 39 of them. I’m a doc addict.

Only missed these:
46. Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1998)
45. The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (1988)
44. Burma VJ (2008)
39. Biggie & Tupac (2002)
35. Paragraph 175 (2000)
33. Tongues Untied (1989)
28. Gasland (2010)
24. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills
19. Touching the Void (2003)
16. Bus 174 (2002)
7. The Celluloid Closet (1995)

Really feel they overlooked some gems: Michael Apted’s Up series, the Maysles, Frederick Wiseman, Ross McElwee;s Sherman;s March

Annie

One glaring omission: “The Cove” (2009) Oscar Winner, Best Documentary. An unbelievable film.

“Interesting” that Gore’s & Spurlock’s films made the top ten.

Dee

I think there were docs that were grossly overlooked, specifically ones dealing with race and subcultures. I do applaud them for putting dark horses in the category like Tarnation but there was still a lack of diversity among the 50 docs. Inconvenient Truth should have been drop for some more prolific and profound documentaries. But after viewing it made me think of my own list, here’s my list :

50 Documentaries Ya Need to See Before You Die:

1. Fahrenheit 9/11
2. Waiting for Superman
3. Sicko
4. Thin Blue Line
5. Gasland
6. Food, Inc.
7. When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in 4 Acts
8. The War Room
9. Bowling for Columbine
10. Born into Brothels
11. Deliver Us From Evil
12. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
13. The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till
14. The Life and Times of Harvey Milk
15. Jesus Camp
16. Triumph of Will
17. Paradise Lost: The Robin Hood Hills Murders
18. Religulious
19. Classified X
20. 4 Little Girls
21. This Film is Not Yet Rated
22. ZOO
23. Crumb
24. Paris is Burning
25. Supersize Me
26. The Kid Stays in Pictures
27. Crazy/Love
28. Paragraph 175
29. Tarnation
30. Murderball
31. The Eyes of Tammy Faye
32. Capturing the Friedmans
33. The Celluloid Closet
34. Hoop Dreams
35. Grey Gardens
36. Gimme Shelter
37. Standing in the Shadows of Motown
38. My Kid Could Paint That!
39. Wanted and Desired
40. Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
41. White Light, Black Rain
42. There’s something Wrong with Aunt Diane
43. Inside Deep Throat
44. WoodStock
45. Absolut Warhola
46. Stan Lathan’s Save The Children and/or Watts Stax
47. US Vs. John Lennon
48. Sick: The Life and Times of Supermasochist Bob Flanagan
49. Good Hair
50. The Right To Be Left Alone: Larry Flynt
*Honorable Mention: BOFFO! Tinseltown’s Bombs and Blockbusters *
*Honorable Mention: Truth or Dare *
*Honorable Mention: Southern Comfort *
*Honorable Mention: RIZE *

Dee

I was a little upset by the lack of race and subculture documentaries on Current’s list. I was hoping for the inclusion of things like Pebble’s Classified X, 4 Little Girls and Good Hair, but of the ones shown, I’ve seen 80% of this list in the following order:

49. Truth or Dare (1991)
48. The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)
45. The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (1988)
44. Burma VJ (2008)
43. When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006)
39. Biggie & Tupac (2002)
35. Paragraph 175 (2000)
32. Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)
31. Jesus Camp (2006)
30. Farhenheit 9/11 (2004)
28. Gasland (2010)
27. Tarnation (2003)
26. Murderball (2005)
25. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)
24. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996)
23. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2000)
20. Capturing the Friedmans (2003)
15. Crumb (1994)
12. Bowling for Columbine (2002)
11. Paris Is Burning (1991)
9. Trouble the Water (2008)
8. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
7. The Celluloid Closet (1995)
5. Supersize Me (2004)
2. The Thin Blue Line (1988)
1. Hoop Dreams (1994)

Steve

“Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media”
“The Corporation”

These two docs (sadly) may not have had the cultural impact of most of the docs on the list, but, honestly, I don’t even mean it as hyperbole when I say that only in a world doomed to catastrophe would they be ignored for a list like this. The first is the most incisive look at one of the most dominent propaganda forces (major media) in the world today, as well as one of the greatest thinkers in American history (Chomsky, who will be remembered as a 20th-century Socrates if the world ever gets its act together)…

The 2nd is a similarly incisive look at the most dominant and destructive institution in the world (corporations).

KushSmokin

Can’t they believe they left out “There’s something wrong with Aunt Diane!” it’s a great doc, a must-see!! TRUST!!! Look it up…*person of interest: Diane Shuler

Neziah

Hoop Dreams is one of the finest films ever made, so its number 1 spot is more than well deserved, but I’m disappointed at the exclusion of “4 Little Girls”.

Judd

Wow, ”A Lion in the House”, should be in the top ten, but I seriously have no understanding of why they missed it completely. Oops!

daniel gallardo

where the heck is cocaine cowboys on this list

Chad

DEAR ZACHARY!!!!

Karen Gehres

Yes!
AMERICAN MOVIE! Another truly great doc not on the list.
Also, Errol Morris’ Gates of Heaven & Vernon Florida.
A real beauty called Benjamin Smoke too……I could go on…..

Mike Shank

It’s a crime that American Movie is not on the list, ANYWHERE!!!!!!!

Sam Gadoodle

I would have to say that the Decline of Western Civilization (original, LA punk scene) is the superior film. Both the scene and the music is wayyyyyyy more compelling than watching Paul Stanley lay in a bed made of supermodels.

BluTopaz

no Eyes on the Prize-wtf?

I counted 12, so i have some watching to do also. Capturing the Friedmans is so eerie, and with that crime doc genre I would include The Staircase, which gave me chills. Kid Stays in the Picture created a method of animation that I love, glad to see it on the list with Waltz with Bashir also. My fave on this list is Paris is Burning.

Dankwa Brooks

The only ones I saw were-
43. When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006)
39. Biggie & Tupac (2002)
37. Inside Job (2010)
30. Farhenheit 9/11 (2004)
29. Man on Wire (2008)
12. Bowling for Columbine (2002)
9. Trouble the Water (2008) EXCELLENT little known doc!
8. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
5. Supersize Me (2004)

Leon Breckenridge

Straight out of Hunter’s Point is a good one too. That is one that started the Hood DVD.

Tovah

I counted 17. Guess, I’ve got a bit of watching to do.

My favorites:
When The Levees Broke
Street Fight
The Celluloid Closet
Paris is Burning

How ‘Catfish” made the list over “For the Bible Tells Me So”, “Four Little Girls”, or “Grey Gardens” is beyond me.

Cynthia

Even to my surprise…I counted 24.

Karen Gehres

Seen 26 of ’em.
Some personal faves not on this list are “Grey Gardens”,”ItalianAmerican” & “You See Me Laughin’?”.
And so many more…..

Ladybug

50. Spellbound (2002)
49. Truth or Dare (1991)
48. The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)
43. When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006)
40. When We Were Kings (1996)
38. March of the Penguins (2005)
37. Inside Job (2010)
31. Jesus Camp (2006)
30. Farhenheit 9/11 (2004)
21. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
18. Food, Inc. (2008)
17. Street Fight (2005)
12. Bowling for Columbine (2002)
10. Grizzly Man (2005)
9. Trouble the Water (2008)
8. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
5. Supersize Me (2004)
3. Roger & Me (1989)
1. Hoop Dreams (1994)

Not bad . . . not bad at all

Ash

Holy Hell, only seen 6 of them…

43. When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006)
39. Biggie & Tupac (2002)
30. Farhenheit 9/11 (2004)
18. Food, Inc. (2008)
12. Bowling for Columbine (2002)
10. Grizzly Man (2005)

and I LOVE documentaries so this list gives me some more to think about

LvFlg

my fav – Man On Wire

LvFlg

Great list! Great films. Long live the documentary!

JMac

Don’t agree with the order but definitely some jewels in that list. Don’t know how Hoop Dreams is #1. And Super Size me is #5? Suck-ups.

I’ve only seen 12 of these docs but everyone needs to watch the Enron one. Plays on CNBC sometimes.

One Day in September should’ve been ranked higher.

Vanessa Martinez

I feel like I’ve barely seen anything. I’ve seen:

Supersize me
Trouble the Water – awesome!
Bowling for Colombine
Farhenheit 9/11
When the Levees Broke
Truth or Dare
When We Were Kings

What happened to these two which I love?
Four Little Girls -Spike Lee
African American Lives

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