Special Report

The 50 Best Documentaries of All Time

Source: Courtesy of Cinecom Pictures

5. Stop Making Sense (1984)
> IMDb average rating: 8.6 (14,539 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 97% (7,290 votes)
> Director: Jonathan Demme

Considered one of the best concert films ever, “Stop Making Sense” is a live performance in Hollywood by the avant-garde rock band the Talking Heads as they promote their album “Speaking in Tongues.”

Source: Courtesy of New Yorker Films

4. Shoah (1985)
> IMDb average rating: 8.7 (9,050 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 97% (1,531 votes)
> Director: Claude Lanzmann

This nine-hour French documentary tells the horrifying story of the Holocaust through extensive interviews with survivors, witnesses, and perpetrators at various Holocaust sites around Poland, including the Warsaw Ghetto and Auschwitz-Birkenau.

3. Edward Said: The Last Interview (2004)
> IMDb average rating: 8.5 (43 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 100% (343 votes)
> Director: Michael Dibb

A portrait of Palestinian-American intellectual Edward Said, this two-hour interview conducted near the end of his life includes Said’s reflections on his upbringing and education, Middle Eastern politics, and his diagnosis of incurable leukemia.

2. A Lion in the House (2006)
> IMDb average rating: 8.8 (284 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 97% (468 votes)
> Directors: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichart

This film follows the lives of five Ohio families over the course of six years as their children undergo cancer treatment at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, highlighting the fierce care of parents as well the disparities in treatment based on a family’s economic class.

Source: Courtesy of ESPN Films

1. O.J.: Made in America (2016)
> IMDb average rating: 8.9 (18,706 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 98% (1,747 votes)
> Director: Ezra Edelman

This five-part miniseries explores racial tensions, violence, celebrity, and achievement in America through the story of former football star and celebrity O.J. Simpson, delving not only into his trial for the murder of his ex-wife, but also his conviction for robbery in 2008.

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