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Looking for a good documentary to watch on your cozy day in? We’ve got you covered with the ultimate guide to the best documentaries on Netflix.
1) The House I Live In
Have a thing for watchdog journalism calling out the U.S. government? This documentary gives an in-depth look at the history of America’s war on drugs and how it has negatively affected poor, minority communities. What was once labeled as “government conspiracy” is explained, verified, and backed up in the award-winning documentary.
2) She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry
This documentary gives you an all-access pass into lives of the heroes behind the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s. The girl-power history divulges into the radical waves made for things we rightly take for granted in American society today. These women stood on the front lines in battle for gender equality and are still around to tell the world about it.
3) What Happened to Miss Simone?
Did you know her real name was Eunice Kathleen Waymon? “Nina Simone” was a stage name because she didn’t want her mother knowing she was performing in saloons at the start of her career. And this Netflix-produced documentary opens with her less-than-humble start in 1930s North Carolina and progresses through her journey across the country to become a pioneering all-timer. With archived footage and priceless family photos, Simone’s identity as a black political activist during the civil rights era and her struggles with mental illness are brought front and center. (Her alluring, timeless performances? Plenty of that too.)
4) After Porn Ends
It’s the billion-dollar industry that has a special place in many people’s lives. But unlike other porn documentaries, this 94-minute flick doesn’t focus on the business side of the industry. After Porn Ends dives into the careers of those in the field and how hard it is to start fresh after they’ve hung up their dancing shoes. It shows a harsh reality of why many of them enter the business and why even more can’t stay away for very long.
If you’ve ever found gas prices too damn high, Pump is for you. The 2014 film explores the world’s dependency on petroleum and how much the price per barrel controls nearly every economic aspect of our lives. It gives you a historical viewpoint to how petroleum seeped its way into almost everything we use on a daily basis and how many wars it’s really started.
6) Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
Remember the Enron scandal of 2001? This documentary lays out the saga from beginning to end in a two-hour behind-the-scenes look into the bad guys that eventually steer the company to bankruptcy. From suicide and strippers to inside trading and a $40 billion lawsuit, The Smartest Guys in the Room masterfully airs out all of the fallen energy empire’s dirty laundry.
7) If You Build it
Need one of those feel-good, impact documentaries? See how a handful of high school students in the nation’s poorest county used a class project to give their small town something that brought the community together while boosting its economy. Set in Windsor, North Carolina, the 2013 documentary shows how two innovative teachers grapple with the school district to get funding for their course. See to what lengths the two will go to let the students and their project succeed in a small town in fear of change.
8) SOMM: Into the Bottle
Do you know what a sommelier is? Neither did I until I watched this enthralling documentary. It’s all you ever wanted to know about the history of wine—it literally goes into the bottle, as its title promises—and the cinematography is out of this world. Aerial views around European vineyards leave you wanting to book your next international flight to experience them in real time. It fascinatingly breaks down everything to do with the little red glass you have after work.
9) The Art of Organized Noize
Ever wonder how rap duo Outkast got its start? Talk about hard work, dedication, and a lot of bars. The humble beginnings are brought to the stage in this 2016 rap history lesson. The documentary highlights how the two were pioneers in putting southern rap on a national radar. Featuring artists like Diddy, Future, Ludacris, 2 Chainz, and Cee Lo, the documentary pays homage to the basement label Organized Noize that thrust Outkast onto a national scale.
10) Finding Fela!
Describing this documentary as only a look into the life of a Nigerian musician would be an insulting understatement. This 2014 doc illustrates the late performer in his prime as a political rebel in the 1960s. See how Fela Kuti used music as a political sword against a tyrannical Nigerian government: Kuti was inspired by the civil rights movement in the U.S. and worked to see a revolution in his own horizon. A man of many wives and flaws, Kuti’s tantalizing spirit is revived in this two-hour epic.
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