It should come as no surprise that Netflix features an enormous number of documentaries in its catalog. Sadly, a lot of them simply aren’t worth watching. Hidden among the endless options, however, are some must-see documentaries.
So, whether you’re looking for war documentaries, space documentaries, sports documentaries, or something else entirely, keep reading. These are the best documentaries on Netflix that you can watch right now. All of which will enlighten and entertain you.
The Best War Documentaries on Netflix
Unfortunately, documentary makers have no shortage of material when it comes to wars. Many of the most important conflicts of recent centuries have a show about them on Netflix.
This 10-part documentary tells the story of the United States’ controversial 19-year conflict in Vietnam.
It features testimonies from more than 80 witnesses from both sides, never-seen-before video footage, and runs for more than 17 hours in total.
World War II in Colour is a British documentary that includes a vast amount of real video footage from the battlefields, cities, and oceans that saw action during World War II.
It has 13 episodes in total, covering everything from the North African campaign to the Japanese invasion of China.
November 13: Attack on Paris is a Netflix original about the terror attacks in the French capital during November 2015. The three-part series documents the timeline of that traumatic day.
For more options, have a look at our full list of war documentaries on Netflix.
The Best Space Documentaries on Netflix
If you’d prefer to be dazzled by scientific ingenuity rather than human suffering, check out some of the top Netflix documentaries about space and the universe instead.
A Year in Space is a 12-part Netflix docuseries that follows American Scott Kelly and Russian Mikhail Kornienko during their year-long stay on the International Space Station.
It follows their mission from takeoff to touchdown, providing a fascinating insight into zero-gravity life and the scientific work that goes on while in orbit.
The Search for Life in Space is a short 32-minute documentary about how humans are searching for signs of life beyond our planet. It’s doesn’t go into complex details, so it’s perfect for anyone who may not have the same level of background knowledge as a seasoned universe fanatic.
For more content about the universe, make sure to also check out the best space documentaries on Amazon.
The Best Nature Documentaries on Netflix
If you’d prefer to learn about Earth-based lifeforms, you’ll be pleased to know that some of the best documentaries on Netflix cover the natural world.
Narrated by the ever-lovable Stephen Fry, Dancing With The Birds follows majestic birds as they try to find a mate.
Fry’s commentary adds an element of humor to what is already a fascinating subject matter, making this one of the most enjoyable nature documentaries ever made.
Coral reefs are one of the most important ecosystems on the planet. They’ve been around for 485 million years and support more than one-quarter of all marine species; the NOAA National Ocean Service calls them “the rainforests of the sea.”
The climate emergency means coral is now dying at a faster rate than ever. This documentary investigates the devastating impact that coral death is having on our planet and our lives.
We’ve written about the best nature documentaries on Netflix if these couple of suggestions aren’t enough to satisfy you.
The Best BBC Documentaries on Netflix
The British television network is one of the foremost documentary makers in the world.
Aardman Animations—creators of the Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, and Chicken Run—started life as a tiny animation studio in Bristol, England. A Grand Night In: The Story of Aardman tracks the studio from its humble beginnings to its status as a company with more than $1 billion in revenue.
In addition to A Grand Night In, many more of the best BBC documentaries are available on Netflix. Check out our list to learn more.
The Best Travel Documentaries on Netflix
The “new normal” means it could be a while before many people feel comfortable getting on a plane again. After all, why bother when you can travel anywhere in the world from your own sofa thanks to Netflix?!
9. Dark Tourist
Tourism isn’t only about beaches and all-inclusive buffets. If you’d like to learn about the grittier side of the world, check out Dark Tourist.
New Zealand filmmaker David Farrier investigates some of the weirder travel spots you’ll find, including Pablo Escobar-themed trips in Colombia and nuclear disaster tourism in Japan.
Narrated by Robert Redford, National Parks Adventure takes viewers on a tour of remarkable spots in the National Parks of the United States. The documentary covers Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, Yosemite, and Arches. The entire documentary uses IMAX 3D cinematography.
To learn more, have a look at our complete list of the best travel documentaries on Netflix.
The Best Crime Documentaries on Netflix
True crime documentaries on Netflix have enjoyed a renaissance in recent years.
Making a Murderer is arguably the Netflix documentary that kicked off the renewed interest in the genre.
It tells the story of Steven Avery. Avery was wrongly convicted of murder and spent 18 years in jail, only to be found guilty of a different murder upon his exoneration and release. Despite doubts around the second conviction, he remains in jail to this day.
12. Amanda Knox
One of the most famous convictions of the 21st century occurred in Italy in 2007.
American exchange student, Amanda Knox, was found guilty of killing a fellow student, Meredith Kercher, in a trial littered with controversies. Rumors of police incompetence, evidence tampering, and false testimonies circulated for years after Knox’s conviction. The Italian supreme court eventually overturned the decision in 2015.
This documentary tells the story of the night of the murder and the subsequent media frenzy surrounding the court proceedings.
The Best Sports Documentaries on Netflix
Some of the best documentaries on Netflix fall into the sports category.
Ayrton Senna is widely believed to be the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time. He won three world titles before being killed in a crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. He was 34 years old.
This docufilm charts his life and death.
14. The Last Dance
An obvious inclusion, the Netflix docuseries tells the story of NBA legend, Michael Jordan. Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr, and Phil Jackson all feature.
The Best Music Documentaries on Netflix
And finally, a couple of brilliant music documentaries for you to watch.
15. Chasing Trane
Chasing Trane is about the life of the jazz icon, John Coltrane. Coltrane was one of the world’s foremost saxophonists before he succumbed to liver cancer in 1967 at the age of 40.
His legend lives on to this day.
Spread over four seasons, the Canadian docuseries explores the rise of hip-hop.
The series starts in the 1970s with Grandmaster Flash, then goes on to cover all of the major stars and storylines through to the early 2000s and the rise of 50 Cent.
More Netflix Shows Worth Watching
Documentaries form a large chunk of the Netflix library. And if you dig down into a specific genre, you’ll be able to find some niche content to suit your tastes.
And once you have watched all of the best documentaries on Netflix and want to watch something a little different, we recommend checking out the best interactive Netflix shows instead.
Read the full article: The 16 Best Documentaries on Netflix in 2020
People have a morbid fascination with the lives of serial killers. Often, we want to know the motives behind their evil deeds. Also, it is interesting to see how they respond to questioning. That is, of course, if they are still alive. Or if they have any recorded interviews that still exist.
How can you get your next gruesome fix? Well, Netflix is a great place to find documentaries about serial killers. There are lots available to watch, and we’ve rounded up the best serial killer documentaries. So, without further ado, here are the best documentaries about serial killers to watch on Netflix.
Would you like an insight into the macabre mind of this murderer? Then Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, will give you a glimpse into Bundy’s world. This one isn’t for the faint of heart. It features a lot of details about his killing sprees.
But, perhaps more disturbing is the glorified manner in which Bundy talks about himself and his acts. This is one of the best Netflix crime documentaries for fans of the serial killer genre.
Another gruesome tale. Interview with a Serial Killer chronicles the crimes of Arthur Shawcross. Also known as the Genesee River Killer, he died in prison in 2008 while he was serving a 250-year sentence for his crimes. Like The Ted Bundy Tapes, this documentary features his crimes in disturbing detail.
However, the most gruesome aspect of this documentary is the interview with Shawcross. He comes across as the cold-hearted killer that he was, taking great pleasure in discussing his heinous acts. This is a fantastic documentary that gives a real insight into the often brazen way a serial killer will talk about themselves and their crimes.
This one is a little different from the others on the list. The Confession Killer focuses on the life and crimes of Henry Lee Lucas. Why is it different? Well, after a spate of arrests for murder, Lucas eventually confessed to dozens more. However, it is impossible to say whether he was telling the truth or not. This is all down to the unusual preferential treatment he was given while in prison.
We won’t go into too much detail here as it might spoil the series for you, but the bumbling authorities and Lucas’ manipulation of circumstances makes for a compelling watch. If you like to see how a sociopath/psychopath can turn situations to their advantage, then this is an ideal documentary.
Killer Ratings is a genuinely harrowing tale that highlights what happens when greed takes a stranglehold. It looks at Wallace Souza, who started out as a Brazilian politician, before becoming a cop. From there, he went on to become the host of true-crime TV series, Canal Livre.
Whether Souza was a serial killer per se is a matter of conjecture, but he did hire a hitman to kill five people in order to improve the ratings of his show. More of a serial killer by proxy, but still a greedy, heartless beast nonetheless. This is a brilliant series if you like to see how criminals are often hidden in plain sight.
It is hard to say whether Ted Kaczynski is a serial killer or not. He was more of a “serial bomber”. However, he did kill three people during his bombing sprees. This fills the serial killer criteria, for sure.
What is most interesting about this case is the manner in which the Unabomber went from an intellectual young man—a mathematics professor, no less—to a cold-hearted bomber. The police eventually apprehended him in 1996. The Unabomber is currently serving eight life sentences in ADX Florence for 10 counts of transportation, mailing, and use of bombs, and three counts of murder.
Unabomber – In His Own Words is a great documentary, with details “straight from the horse’s mouth”.
Inside the Criminal Mind is a series spread over four 50-minute episodes. Each episode deals with a different form of criminal activity. But the first episode—Serial Killers—is what we’re looking for. The episode features expert analysis from professionals.
These range from criminal profilers to psychologists and neurologists. They leave no stone unturned in explaining the mind of a serial killer. If you are a fan of true crime documentaries in general, this is a great pick for your watch list. You can also watch episodes about kidnapping, cult leaders, and crime lords like El Chapo, too.
From the producers of Emmy-winning documentary Wild, Wild Country comes the tale of Nazi Death Camp guard “Ivan the Terrible”. There is no doubt that this character will have murdered many people in cold blood during his time as a prison guard. This will earn him the title of “serial killer”.
The doubt in The Devil Next Door lies in the fact that the Cleveland grandfather, accused of being Ivan the Terrible, protests his innocence throughout. We’ll leave you to find out whether he did it or not, but this is a great documentary with an intriguing historical back-story.
Another series that deals with a range of crimes. I Am a Killer looks at the lives of murderers on Death Row. Not all of them are serial killers. However, episode four, “Sympathy for the Devil”, focuses on Miguel Angel Martinez, the youngest inmate ever to have graced Texas’ Death Row.
Martinez gives his account first hand, making it interesting as it offers his side of the story. Not that we should sympathize with him. He killed three people and all three murders were linked to Satanism. The whole series is worth watching, but this is a genuinely chilling episode.
The Best Netflix Documentaries About Serial Killers
If you love a good serial killer documentary, then the options above should be enough to give you several hours of viewing… pleasure? Perhaps that is the wrong noun to use here, but it will certainly fill your day with brutal binge-worthiness.
Plus, one of the great things about Netflix is that it will give you suggestions based on your viewing, so there’s a chance you’ll find the odd gem that way, too.
For out and out morbidity, though, Conversation with a Serial Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes makes for some truly nail-biting viewing. The manner in which Bundy tells his story is truly chilling. If you would like to share the tension remotely, why not check out how to watch Netflix with friends far away.
Read the full article: The Best Netflix Documentaries About Serial Killers
The best music documentaries are wonderful to watch. Not only do they offer a glimpse into the ups and downs of celebrity, but they also let you see the creativity and expression that goes into making music at the highest level.
We’ve rounded up a list of the best music documentaries available to watch on Netflix. Whether it’s Taylor Swift, Oasis, or Bob Dylan, these Netflix music documentaries are all interesting and enjoyable character studies.
Miss Americana explores the life of one of the biggest musicians on the planet: Taylor Swift. Usually cautious when discussing her private life, this documentary delves into Swift’s battles with the media, her body dysmorphia, her mother’s cancer diagnosis, and her political views.
It’s an interesting watch even if you aren’t a fan, though Swifties will especially love the moments of music-making magic in the studio.
If this documentary inspires you, here’s how to make music at home using Audacity.
“Miss Simone, you are idolized, even loved, by millions now. But what happened, Miss Simone?” This quote opens this fantastic documentary about music legend Nina Simone.
The documentary tells her powerful life story; a woman not only known for her songs, but her contributions to civil rights. Combining rare archival footage and interviews, this is a must-see.
At the start of Lady Gaga’s career she adopted an almost mythical status, often making headlines for her eye-catching outfits. This documentary strips that back, covering a year of her life while working on her fifth album, producing a Super Bowl halftime show, and acting on TV.
Gaga is clearly a determined and driven artist and it’s great to get this raw and unfiltered glimpse into her world.
We all know that brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher are bitter rivals. Oasis: Supersonic touches upon that, but it also looks at the Britpop band’s formation, their wild success, and the electric power of their music. Using a wealth of archival photos and videos set against current interviews, this documentary offers a surprisingly soulful look at Oasis.
If you want a balanced or candid look at Queen Bey, then Homecoming isn’t the watch for you—the subtitle “a film by Beyoncé” should tell you all you need to know. What it is, however, is a wonderful insight into the production and performance of her stunning 2018 performance at Coachella festival.
Part documentary, part concert film, Homecoming highlights a performer at the very top of her game.
No-one can accuse Quincy Jones of slacking. Over the course of his life, he’s shaped over 300 albums, won 28 Grammys, and worked with the likes of Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra. As you might expect, this documentary is packed full of tales from his illustrious career, and is co-directed by his daughter, Rashida Jones.
Rolling Thunder Revue, named after Bob Dylan’s 1975 tour of the same name, isn’t Martin Scorsese’s first film about the American singer, but it is his weirdest.
Primarily made up of outtakes from Dylan’s own 1978 film, this documentary blends fact and fiction without ever distinguishing the two; some interviews are with real musicians involved in the tour, others are with actors. It’s an interesting and amusingly meta film.
20 Feet from Stardom moves the light away from the lead singer and highlights those supporting singers who often receive no public acknowledgment or recognition, despite being an important part of the overall performance. Some backup singers want more; others are happy with their role. This is an enjoyable, feelgood, and heartfelt documentary.
Amy Winehouse was a huge talent. With her distinctive voice and appearance, the sky was her limit. Until she sadly died at the age of 27 after succumbing to her addictions.
This documentary uses home footage to show Winehouse’s whirlwind life and career. It delves into her family and fame troubles, but most importantly shows what an outstanding musician she was.
Fyre Festival was meant to be the greatest festival of all time. Located in the Bahamas and promoted online by influencers like Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid, tickets cost up to $1500 each. Except the entire thing turned out to be a fraud, leaving hundreds of people stranded.
This documentary captures the entire bizarre story, which is so nuts that it has to be seen to be believed.
Whether you listen to hip-hop or not, the genre has had a massive influence on every corner of popular culture. This documentary series studies a different artist each episode, like 2 Chainz, Nas, and G-Eazy, as they share their life stories and talk about their upbringing, inspirations, and art.
To broaden your musical horizons, check out these websites to discover new music genres.
Miles Davis is known as one of the most important jazz trumpeters of all time. He played by his own rules, constantly innovating and switching his style. Davis is smooth, cool, but most of all human—which means he could be complicated and difficult. This documentary explores all sides of him through uncovered archival footage and modern interviews.
Rush was a multi-award winning Canadian rock band and this 2010 documentary details its origins and changing sound. Lots of celebrities pop up to profess their love for the band, but it’s really the interviews with the members of Rush themselves that make this interesting, as they reflect on their time making music together.
After Keith Richards released his album Main Offender in 1992, it took him until 2015 to follow up with Crosseyed Heart. In this documentary we get a glorious look at Richards as he creates this album, while at the same time reflecting on his life and everything that led him to where he is now. Fans of the Rolling Stones will especially enjoy this for obvious reasons.
How to Watch More Documentaries for Free
No matter what genre of music you enjoy listening to, each of these Netflix music documentaries offers something different. And who knows, you may end up discovering a new favorite singer or band after watching a few.
If you’re in the mood for some more documentaries, here’s a list of the best places to watch free documentaries online.
Read the full article: The Best Music Documentaries to Watch on Netflix
If you want to watch the best war documentaries ever made, look no further than Netflix.
Netflix has lots of great documentaries to watch. Whether you like biographies, science, music, or history, there is something for everyone. But Netflix really excels with its choice of war documentaries.
Here are the best war documentaries to watch on Netflix right now.
If you enjoy watching original footage rather than talking heads, World War II in Colour is the best documentary about the Second World War that you’ll find on Netflix.
This series was first released in 2009 on British TV. It combines original and digitally colorized footage, some of which had never been seen before. Robert Powell narrates the entire series.
Powell has narrated some of the other best World War II documentaries. They include Hitler’s Bodyguard, The Story of the Third Reich, and Secrets of World War II. Sadly, none of these are on Netflix.
World War II in Colour consists of 13 episodes. They cover the action on the Western Front and Eastern Front, as well as in North Africa and the Pacific.
After learning about the historical events between 1939 and 1945, you should watch the best World War II movies on Netflix.
The Vietnam War is a 10-part TV series directed by the famed documentary maker, Ken Burns. First broadcast on PBS in 2017, it is an epic series and is unquestionably one of the greatest war documentaries ever made; the entire series took more than 10 years to put together.
It contains original first-hand interviews with 79 witnesses (including those who fought in the war and those who protested against it). Burns also worked through 24,000 photos and 1,500 hours of video in a bid to leave no stone unturned.
The series contains 10 episodes and has a total runtime of more than 17 hours.
Despite lasting for less than an hour, this British documentary about the build-up to the Russian Revolution provides a surprisingly detailed, engaging insight into the growing rivalry between the Romanov and the Ulyanov families.
The Romanovs had been the ruling house in Russia since the early 1600s, but Lenin and his followers had become dissatisfied with life under their leadership. The story culminates in the abolition of the monarchy, the execution of the most prominent Romanovs, and the rise of Lenin’s Bolshevik party.
The Age of Tanks traces the history of one of the 20th century’s most revolutionary creations—the tank.
The series begins with the story of Basil Henriques. During World War I, the British soldier became the first man to drive a tank in active combat and use it to fire on enemy combatants. Over the following four episodes, the series examines the use of tanks in the German Blitzkrieg, the Cold War, and 21st-century wars.
Five Came Back is an adaptation of the book of the same name. It tells the story of five famous American film directors (John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens), all of whom found themselves on the frontlines during the Second World War.
Narrated by Meryl Streep, the three-part series used more than 100 hours of archival footage to discuss the 40 documentaries and training films that the directors made to help the war effort. There’s a particular focus on Ford’s Battle of Midway, Capra’s Why We Fight, and Stevens’ life-changing experiences at Dachau.
In the modern age, we wouldn’t know what was happening on the frontlines if it wasn’t for the work of brave journalists who put their own lives in danger to bring us the stories and the footage.
Dying to Tell offers a fascinating insight into the effects the job has on those war reporters’ lives. We hear the stories of reporters who have been kidnapped, shot at by tanks, and even killed. There are interviews, unseen footage, and discussions with health professionals.
Directed by Hernan Zin, the film won “Best Documentary” at the Montreal World Film Festival.
The “Medal of Honor” is the most prestigious personal military decoration in the United States. To date, the US military has only given 3,500 people the award, with more than half of those occurring during the American Civil War.
This TV series tells the heroic stories of eight of the recipients, with one episode dedicated to each person. The eight people represent four momentous battles in America’s history: the Second World War, the War in Afganistan, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
Content in the documentary is a mix of interviews, reenactments, and archive footage.
This isn’t the 2001 movie starring Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman. We’re talking about the excellent BBC documentary of the same name (also from 2001).
In 1940, the UK was in a precarious position. Western Europe had collapsed, the Battle of Britain raged in the skies, and Hitler was desperate to force Churchill into signing a peace agreement. In response, Churchill created the Commandos, a specialist unit designed to help turn the tide of the war.
This four-part documentary explores the new units’ role at four critical junctures in the progression of the conflict: Dunkirk, the St Nazaire Raid, the North African campaign, and Operation Market Garden.
Terrorism is a type of warfare unlike any other. The most noteworthy terrorist events in history—9/11, the Lockerbie Bombing, the 2011 Norway attacks—will be ingrained in our collective minds forever.
One such incident is the November 2015 Paris attacks. 130 people lost their lives in a series of coordinated bombings and shootings across the city. The attack became the deadliest on French soil since the Second World War.
This three-part Netflix documentary chronicles the events of the day. It includes a timeline of proceedings and dozens of interviews with survivors and eyewitnesses.
Of all the horrors which occurred during World War II, the Nazi concentration camps were the worst. Today, experts believe that the Nazis either killed or imprisoned between 15 million and 20 million people between 1933 and 1945.
This film, from 1945, opened the world’s eyes to the scenes that lay within. Compiled from 80,000 feet of film taken by Allied military photographers after liberation, it is a camp-by-camp analysis of the atrocities committed.
The Allies used the film as evidence in the Nuremberg trials. Ultimately, the footage proved vital in securing convictions against many of the Nazi high command, including Karl Dönitz, Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Alfred Jodl, and Wilhelm Frick.
More Documentaries to Watch on Netflix
We hope you agree with our list of the best war documentaries on Netflix. And if you think we’ve missed out on a must-watch documentary, be sure to let us know in the comments.
If you would like to learn about some of the other great documentaries available, read our article listings the best travel documentaries to watch on Netflix and the best nature documentaries to watch on Netflix.
Read the full article: The 10 Best War Documentaries to Watch on Netflix
Netflix has launched a collection of films, TV shows, and documentaries which it hopes will help people understand the Black Lives Matter movement. The collection includes dozens of titles dealing with “racial injustice and the Black experience in America”.
What Is the Black Lives Matter Movement?
Black Lives Matter is a human rights movement which originated in the US in 2013. It has since grown into an international movement campaigning against police brutality, racial profiling, racial inequality, and systemic racism in the US and beyond.
The recent protests against George Floyd’s death at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department have brought these issues back to the fore. Making this the perfect time to learn about the issues involved and the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole.
Learn About the Black Experience on Netflix
To help everyone do that, Netflix has launched a Black Lives Matter collection of films, TV shows, and documentaries. These address the issues being raised around right now, and many were made by black filmmakers and storytellers.
When you log onto Netflix today, you will see a carefully curated list of titles that only begin to tell the complex and layered stories about racial injustice and Blackness in America. https://t.co/dN6XQmsrGK pic.twitter.com/3CIrrno6mw
— Netflix (@netflix) June 10, 2020
The content in the collection includes Orange Is the New Black, 13th, When They See Us, Becoming, Dear White People, Seven Seconds, All Day and a Night, Mudbound, and See You Yesterday. The contents of the collection may differ based on your location.
The easiest way to find Netflix’ Black Lives Matter collection is to click here. However, it should also be available as its own genre in the dropdown menu, will appear if you search “Black Lives Matter,” and may even be promoted via a popup when you sign in.
It’s There for the People Who Want to Learn
Netflix isn’t forcing anyone to watch these films, TV shows, and documentaries. However, by curating the collection, the streaming service is making it much easier for people who want to do so learn about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Netflix has plenty of other content worth watching. So much, in fact, that we were able to put together an A-Z of TV shows to binge-watch. They cover the full gamut of genres, including intriguing dramas, funny comedies, and mysterious horrors.
Read the full article: Netflix Wants You to Understand Why Black Lives Matter