The 35 Best Documentaries Available on Netflix 2023 [You Shouldn’t Miss]
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Are you looking for the best documentaries on Netflix? Television consumption in recent years has changed radically with the appearance of streaming platforms. If some time ago, the usual thing was the massive viewing of live programs, weekly broadcast series, contests, reality shows, and talent shows.
Today we are already facing a paradigm shift. General television audiences are much more modest because much of the population has switched to on-demand viewing.
That you can choose what to see at any time, at your own pace, without schedules or commercial breaks is a real advantage for making the most of leisure time. If you add to this the highly varied catalogues of all the operators, the situation improves. For this reason, genres that barely had a place in classic television broadcasts now have a new renaissance in our homes. Horror movies or science fiction proposals have recently gained followers, mainly thanks to on-demand reproduction.
One of the most significant is the documentary. Sports, crime, historical series, famous characters, music… anything we can think of has a chance to make itself known thanks to this format. Netflix has been able to understand this since its inception and continues to expand its productions and acquisitions of documentaries to improve its catalogue. Its star products are indeed fiction. Here you find the complete list of all the best documentaries on Netflix.
Here is the Updated List of the Best Documentaries on Netflix of All Time
1. Pamela Anderson: A Love Story
An intimate and humanizing portrait of one of the world’s most famous sexy blondes, Pamela Anderson: A Love Story follows the life and career of Pamela Anderson, from country girl to international sex symbol to the actress-activist and mother. Using diaries and personal recordings, Pamela Anderson tells the story of her rise to fame. Her turbulent romances and the famous sex tape that we found out more about thanks to the Disney Plus + series Pam and Tommy.
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2. Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?
John Leonard was in college when he saw the Pepsi Stuff commercial. This ad said you could trade Pepsi Points for different things. Leonard was most interested in one prize: a Harrier jet worth 7 million Pepsi Points. PepsiCo said that including the plane in the ad was just a joke, but the ad didn’t say that, so Leonard set out to get his jet. He had to go to court to fight PepsiCo because of the quest.
3. Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed
Even though Bob Ross died in 1995, his place in pop culture is as strong as ever. Happy Accidents, Betrayal, and Greed look past Ross’s outwardly happy personality to find a stolen legacy that Ross’s son, Steve, calls “shameful.”
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The movie is about one of the best psychiatrists in the world, Phil Stutz. It was made by his friend and patient, Jonah Hill. Hill meets with Stutz for an extraordinary session that turns the usual doctor-patient relationship on its head. Together, they bring The Tools, Stutz’s signature visualization techniques, to life in a funny, vulnerable, and ultimately healing way.
5. The Marquee
Socialite, influencer, businesswoman, television collaborator, and Le Cordon Bleu chef, almost all of Tamara Falcó’s life is told through the covers of the magazine ¡Hola. But who really is the Marquise de Griñón? For Tamara, the 40s come with “loads of changes.” And we will witness all of them. The documentary series, produced by Komodo Studios, creators of ‘ I’m Georgina,’ consists of six episodes about the unknown facets of the daughter of Isabel Preysler and Carlos Falcó.
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6. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet
A Life on Our Planet Famous documentarian David Attenborough takes a step back from nature to explore how humanity has wreaked havoc on the animal kingdom and the environment while also revealing firsthand how the world has evolved since he began his profession in the 1950s.
David Attenborough’s nature programs are frequently breathtaking. A Life on Our Earth does so for a variety of reasons. Attenborough’s message is a rude awakening for a world on the verge of global disaster, but it is necessary if we are to continue marvelling at the species that continue to astound us.
7. Athlete A
Athlete A follows the journalists who were instrumental in breaking one of the biggest scandals in US sport: the sex abuse scandal that ripped through American gymnastics and wrecked numerous lives.
Netflix is quickly becoming the venue to watch some of our generation’s most heartbreaking yet vital stories. Athlete A is not just an eye-opening look at investigative journalists’ ongoing talent and hard work, but it’s also a sobering reminder of the evil that often lurks in plain sight.
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8. Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King
Gerry Cotten, the founder and CEO of Canadian cryptocurrency QuadrigaCX, owes his fellow investors more than $250 million before passing away. Luke Sewell’s video follows the investors as they investigate Cotten’s death and try to figure out where the money went.
It’s a strange story that delves into several possibilities about Gerald’s death, the most compelling of which is that he faked his death and fled with the money. It also includes a man dressed in a 3D-printed raccoon mask speaking in distorted voices to conceal his identity.
9. Jennifer Lopez: Halftime
Jennifer Lopez reviews her entire career, from her beginnings as an artist, which was linked to dance, to that stellar episode of her performance at the Super Bowl in 2020, going through the critical moments of her personal life that have marked her career. Development, his ideals, and his professional trajectory.
10. The Social Dilemma
A look at social media and how it may be used to spread disinformation and corruption in a society where everyone is almost always online.
Let’s be honest: there aren’t many documentaries that will make you reconsider having a Facebook account. Social media continues to dominate our lives, but few have considered the implications – until now. The Social Dilemma is an engrossing and disturbing look at how everything from algorithms to A.I. is secretly managing and affecting our lives.
11. The Most Hated Man on the Internet
Hunter Moore hosted IsAnyoneUp? in 2010, which allowed anonymous people to publish nude images of their ex-partners with the purpose of wrecking their life. Moore made certain to include their entire name and other identifying information, as well as links to their social media accounts. Moore earned between $8k and $13k per month from the site, which also featured several underage girls.
While many recall the presence of the website and Moore’s abrupt disappearance from the internet, many are unaware of the true awful impact Moore’s activities had on the lives of so many young women. It took the combined efforts of an enraged mother named Charlotte Laws, a former Marine named James McGibney, and the internet’s own Anonymous to bring Moore down and end his reign as a self-proclaimed “professional life ruiner.”
12. The Last Dance
The Final Dance, a documentary on the Chicago Bulls’ 1997/98 season, features archive footage and interviews with Michael Jordan and some of his closest allies and enemies. There are ups and downs, as well as slam dunks.
You don’t have to be a basketball enthusiast to enjoy The Final Dance. The collaborative ESPN/Netflix production delves deeply into what makes one of the twentieth century’s most iconic figures tick: feuds, conflicts with the front office, and family stories all play a role. Everything is presented in a way that allows you to learn as you go without being condescending. Furthermore, if you enjoy basketball, you may relax knowing that you’re witnessing a secret aspect of one of the game’s greatest dynasties. Hundreds of hours of previously unseen film were used in The Final Dance, which presents a unique, multifaceted perspective on the guy once known as “Air.”
13. 100 Days with Tata
The tender love story of Miguel Ángel and Luisa Cantero, his great-grandaunt, would be captured in a film along with another series of plans, such as a road trip and learning about Luisa’s origins. But the pandemic put all that in check. However, in the same way, the actor managed to put a positive spin on the pandemic to enjoy time with Luisa. And, incidentally, to encourage his physical and mental activity, he started two significant projects: activity on social networks with Tata, even reaching international virality with #CuarenTata and the conversion of the film into a documentary of confinement.
14. Mercury 13
Tackling a topic that sadly still permeates our culture, Mercury 13 is nevertheless a must-see, diving into the reality of being a female astronaut in the ’60s. Don’t remember them? This film explores why that’s the case, revealing the truth behind their absence in history. Dubbed the Mercury 13 – after the first US space mission, Mercury – these women underwent the same rigorous testing as their male counterparts and yet were denied the chance to take flight.
Why it’s worth a watch: A piece of history that many of us just don’t know about, this is one of many examples of sexism that’s so ingrained in our collective past we don’t realize it. If you’re a fan of untold backstories, you’ll be both enthralled and, at times, enraged by the story of these remarkable women and how their dreams were backburnered because of their gender. As told via interviews with the remaining members of the group, this is a fascinating cultural document.
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15. The Bleeding Edge
Healthcare. Anyone who’s been shocked to hear their pharmacist utters the words “that’ll be $800, please” for a 30-day prescription knows this is a lucrative industry. That’s what makes The Bleeding Edge such a succulent topic for a documentary, as it delves into one another medical avenue, the $400 billion medical device industry. You heard. Exploring five devices and the havoc they’ve caused patients is jaw-dropping – and very necessary – viewing.
Why it’s worth a watch: Whether you live in a country with free healthcare or not, the sheer gall of some companies in rushing out products prior to being thoroughly vetted is astonishing. Which, of course, makes for compelling viewing.
16. Hot Girls Wanted
Porn is something that none of us feels 100% comfortable talking about, but if we’re honest, we’re all familiar with it one way or another. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to work in the multi-billion dollar porn industry, the American documentary film Hot Girls Wanted is for you. Directed by filmmakers Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus, the documentary followed the lives of several 18- to 19-year-old pornographic actresses and premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2015 before being snapped up by Netflix.
Why it’s worth a watch: This documentary doesn’t pull any punches and shows some of the best and worst aspects of working in the porn industry. Netflix was obviously pleased with its reception as it released an accompanying documentary TV show called Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On to further explore the story.
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17. Our Father
Dr. Donald Cline, an Indianapolis fertility doctor, had used his sperm numerous times to inseminate patients at his clinic. Cline did so without the consent of the women seeking treatment from him after assuring them that the donor’s sperm came from a group of medical students and was physically compatible with her husband.
18. Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond
If you like comic Andy Kaufman, Jim Carrey, or the 1999 film Man in the Moon, which starred Carrey as Kaufman, this is the documentary for you. Using contemporary interviews with Carrey and never-before-seen video of the creation of Man on the Moon, director Chris Smith focuses on Carrey during the filming of Man on the Moon, in which he kept in character as Kaufman throughout production.
It’s almost frightening how readily Carrey resurrects his idol, Kaufman. The company apparently did not want the behind-the-scenes film to be released, and you’ll understand why once you see it. Carrey’s dedication to the part clearly caused issues on set, but Jim and Andy is a captivating story about two of the world’s biggest comedians and why they do what they do.
Icarus is convincing proof that twists and turns aren’t just for Hollywood movies. Bryan Fogel, a filmmaker and cyclist, intended to make a documentary about doping in sports, so he injected himself with steroids and documented the process. Consider it similar to Super Size Me, but with pharmaceutical-grade medications instead of Big Macs. His intention was to discover how simple it is to get away with doping in professional sports.
Why it’s worth watching: In light of Lance Armstrong’s antics, the idea of trying to get away with doping in sports is a fascinating one. What he discovers after chatting with a Russian doctor, however, dramatically transforms the objective of the doc, transforming Icarus into a gripping, political thriller.
20. The Staircase
A 911 operator receives a call in 2001 from a concerned husband who has discovered his wife dead at the foot of the stairs. That person is novelist Michael Peterson, who becomes the subject of a documentary that spans a decade. Kathleen Peterson actually fell? Was she the victim of domestic abuse? The French filmmaking crew that takes on the case began filming immediately after Michael’s indictment, and they are allowed free freedom of the entire Peterson family, which is surrounded by as many weird turns as the murder case.
Why it’s worth watching: Because you can go into the enormous number of fan theories afterwards! This is a gripping true crime series in the vein of Making a Murderer. Unlike that series, The Staircase had a big bias advantage: the documentary’s editor grew close to Peterson and ended up dating him over the course of a decade. Get this thing watched.
21. The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe – The Unpublished Tapes
Netflix proposes we address the figure that Norma Jean represented in life and everything that involved her death in The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe. The unreleased tapes. The objective of this documentary is to clarify, with the help of some acquaintances of the actress. The circumstances in which Marilyn lived her life and her career. Especially her last weeks.
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It’s a look behind the scenes at competitive cheerleading as seen through the eyes of the Navarro College Bulldogs Cheer Team and their coach, Monica Aldama.
Cheerleading entails much more than shaking pom-poms and yelling, “Go team!” It’s a team-based, competitive activity that can be taxing on both the mind and the body. Cheer is a wonderful docuseries about drive, passion, and solidarity portrayed through the eyes of unforgettable personalities. Season two has a considerably darker tone, dealing with serious claims against a former team member and highlighting the courageous victims who brought them to light.
23. My Octopus Teacher
A cross-species friendship like this is more likely to be seen in an animated film than a documentary. My Octopus Teacher follows the friendship of an adventurous juvenile octopus and filmmaker Craig Foster. Foster not only gets the octopus’ trust but is also given the opportunity to learn about the intricacies of her life, as well as some more meaningful lessons along the road.
This documentary received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature and has received other wins and nominations for other prizes, as well as critical acclaim, since its publication in 2020. With its close emphasis on one topic and the relationship between the octopus and the filmmaker, it’s not your typical nature documentary, and there’s plenty to think about people and nature by the time the credits roll.
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24. Meltdown: Three Mile Island
The Three Mile Island catastrophe resulted in the partial meltdown of a nuclear reactor, and it remains the worst nuclear accident in US history to this day.
Why it’s worth watching: The documentary is a four-part slow-burn that develops and builds the oncoming fear in the days preceding the accident. It skillfully depicts how America was only minutes away from its own Chornobyl disaster and underlines how thousands of civilians narrowly avoided being harmed by radiation.
25. 800 Meters
This documentary series, directed by Elías León Siminiani, reflects on why some supposedly integrated young people decided to die killing in the attacks of 17-A in Barcelona and Cambrils (Tarragona) and offers a detailed reconstruction of the events, with unpublished audiovisual material, exclusive testimonies of the principal investigators and experts, as well as many survivors and people close to the terrorists.
26. 11 M
A few minutes before reaching 8 in the morning on March 11, 2004, four trains of the Cercanías network that covered the route from Alcalá de Henares to Atocha suffered the explosion of some of their convoys, leaving 193 dead and around 2,000 injured. Undoubtedly, the most challenging part of what has happened is the experience of the victims.
In this documentary, survivors and experts analyze the terrorist attack in Madrid on March 11, 2004, from the political crisis it unleashed to the search for those responsible.
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27. Neymar: The Perfect Chaos
Neymar Jr. has established himself as a hero on the pitch and a controversial figure off it. The docuseries El Caos perfecto, directed by David Charles Rodrigues, sketches in three parts an up-close and personal portrait of soccer player Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior and shows his rise to fame at Santos Fútbol Club, his glory days at Barcelona and the ups and downs with the Brazilian national team, where he is still considered his best hope for a comeback, and Paris Saint-Germain.
28. The Tinder Swindler
Simon Leviev used the dating app Tinder to meet women and emotionally manipulate them into lending him hundreds of thousands of dollars while posing as the son of a Russian-Israeli diamond billionaire.
Whilst it appears to be a narrative about a dating app scammer, it is actually a terrifyingly honest look at how narcissists and abusers prey on and purposefully seek out weak people. Each victim’s life was shattered, and many are still struggling to rebuild.
If you thought Gorillas in the Mist was scary, wait until you see what the people of Virunga National Park go through. We’re not just talking about chimps here but about the heroic park rangers whose efforts to save mountain gorillas from extinction are truly heartbreaking. The film was nominated for an Oscar for its exposé on the Congolese park, the horrors of poachers, and the deceitful practices of oil multinationals.
Why it’s worth watching: Be prepared to cry buckets at the horrors. Yet it’s not all bad because the actual message here is about how far people would go to conserve a species.
30. Chef’s Table
You’ve seen Masterchef and Bake Off, and now it’s time to dive into the world of culinary perfection. The series examines each of six outstanding world-renowned chefs in their own restaurants to profile their discipline and dedication. It’s similar to observing artists at work. There’s no competition here to keep your attention, no race to the finish line like on other cookery shows.
Why it’s worth watching: Alright, there’s no contest, so you’re probably wondering what the appeal is. While there is no competition, this is also not about the restaurant industry’s commercialism; it is simply about how each chef’s creative process is born and the satisfaction they take from putting up their creations.
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31. I am Georgina Season 2
“Many know my name, but few know who I am.” That is the motto of I am Georgina, the documentary of Cristiano Ronaldo’s couple on Netflix. In which all aspects of his life will be revealed, from the most public and well-known part to the most personal. We will live with her day-to-day motherhood, relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo, trips, and parties. We will discover her true friendships, desires and desires, highs and lows.
32. Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
The story of the infamous 2017 Fyre Festival, which promised a paradisiacal escape to the Bahamas but swiftly devolved into a scene straight out of Lord of the Flies due to the outrageous mismanagement of its overconfident organizers, particularly its primary fraudster, Billy McFarland.
Nothing is more therapeutic in 2019 than seeing America’s elite’s foolish follies and sins finally come back to bite them where it hurts. Director Chris Smith (Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond) convincingly depicts an unsettling portrait of “entrepreneur” Billy McFarland’s arrogance, potentially psychopathic tendencies, and sheer delusional feeling of desperation in Fyre.
The truth about keeping whales in captivity is told in this Netflix Original, which follows the story of Tilikum, an Orca who killed three people while working at Sea World. While those fatalities were heartbreaking, filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite investigates why the killer whale acted in this manner. Is it in his blood? Or was it because he was taken from his family when he was two years old and held in isolation and confinement for twenty years? Hearing the testimonials of his former trainers will just tear your heart even more.
In an attempt to make sense of a thorny moral quandary, both sides of the nature versus nurture coin are discussed here. This is a tale that is still making headlines: should animals be held in captivity for human entertainment? This documentary is a must-see on Netflix.
34. Making a Murderer
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who spent 18 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He was convicted guilty of murder two years after his exoneration. So, did he actually do it? This docuseries follows him throughout his life, from his first brush with crime to the present day.
Why it’s worth watching: This is one of the most intriguing films on Netflix if not one of the best true crime documentaries ever filmed. The murder trial episodes are the tensest, as his defence team claims he was framed by the Manitowoc police department and backs up their claim with some really compelling evidence. There’s a reason why this show has sparked popular curiosity.
35. Amanda Knox
Amanda Knox’s case is a contentious one. In 2007, the American student was charged with Meredith Kercher’s murder. Kercher was found brutally slain while both were studying abroad in Perugia, Italy. Knox’s involvement sparked a flurry of suspicion, and the media portrayed her as the villain. She, her lover, and a third party were all charged with murder, and the former two were finally released after serving four years in prison.
The case itself is fascinating when told as a story, but what makes it so compelling are the one-on-one talks documented on film, including interviews with Knox.
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