Documentary movies often bring awareness to a wider audience and inspire, entertain, and inform people. So, if you wish to watch something entertaining and compelling, watch these classic Netflix documentaries. From The Octopus Teacher to The Tinder Swindler, we have covered the complete list of the best documentaries on Netflix to watch. 

Best documentaries on Netflix to watch right now

1. The Tinder Swindler (2022)

As the name suggests, The Tinder Swindler is about a man who pretends to be a wealthy man on Tinder and then dupes women out of millions of dollars. 

This documentary Netflix series was released in 2022 and opened to a positive response. 

This series will make you want to be careful about people as it is based on a true story, and is about a man who poses to be an affluent man on the famous dating application Tinder to connect with women, woo them, and then ask them for money saying that he needed it to escape his enemies. But, soon his manipulation is exposed and women make a plan to get him arrested. However, how does this happen? Watch this Netflix and find out for yourself. 

IMDb Rating: 7.2/10

Directed by: Felicity Morris

2. The Sparks Brothers (2021)

The Sparks Brothers is one of the best music documentaries on Netflix that was released in 2021. 

Directed by Edgar Wright, the Sparks Brothers is about Russell Mael and Ron Mael, members of the pop and rock group Sparks. 

This musical Netflix documentary features interviews with Ron and Russell, along with short interviews with musicians such as Steve Jones, Alex Kapranos, Gillian Gilbert, Beck, and so on. 

Upon release, this documentary movie gained positive reception from the critics and audience and won 2 awards. 

IMDb Rating: 7.8/10

Cast: Ron Mael and Russell Mael

Directed by: Edgar Wright

3. American Murder: The Family Next Door (2020)

This is one of the best true crime documentaries on Netflix that will send shivers down your spine. 

This crime Netflix documentary movie follows Shannan Watts and her two young daughters Bella and Celeste who disappeared in Colorado in 2018. 

Using raw footage, this documentary on Netflix unravels the mystery of the disappearance of Shannan Watts and her young daughters, and the heartbreaking events that followed.

This is one of the best documentaries on Netflix ever made as it shows firsthand footage, audio clips, and text messages of this murder mystery.

This Netflix documentary movie was released on 30th September 2020 on Netflix and it was reported that around 52 million households had watched the movie. 

This makes American Murder: The Family Next Door one of the most-watched documentaries on Netflix. 

IMDb Rating: 7.2/10

Directed by: Jenny Popplewell

4. Sad Hill Unearthed (2017)

Sad Hill Unearthed is a Spanish documentary released in 2017 that features interviews with Ennio Morricone, Metallica, and Clint Eastwood. This is one of the most popular documentaries that show the reconstruction of a cemetery. 

The movie won 4 awards and was positively received by the critics and audience. 

IMDb Rating: 7.4/10

Cast: David Alba Romero, Joseba del Valle, Sergio Salvati, Sergio García Hernández, Peter J. Hanley, Diego Montero, James Hetfield, Ennio Morricone, Christopher Frayling, Stephen Leigh, Eugenio Alabiso, Joe Dante, Álex de la Iglesia, Clint Eastwood

Directed by: Guillermo de Oliveira

5. Our Father (2022)

Our Father is one of the most interesting documentaries on Netflix that was released in 2022. 

This is one of the true-crime documentaries on Netflix that highlights the story of a fertility specialist who inseminated many of his patients with his sperm, without their consent or knowledge. 

Our Father is a famous Netflix documentary movie that features interviews with women and their children about the situation.  

Our Father is without any doubt one of the best documentaries on Netflix and is quite interesting to watch. 

IMDb Rating: 6.5/10

Cast: Jacoba Ballard, Julie Harmon, Matt White, Mark Faber, Jan Shore, Tim Delaney

Directed by: Lucie Jourdan

6. Miss Americana (2020)

One of the best celebrity documentaries on Netflix, Miss Americana follows the popular singer and songwriter Taylor Swift and her career. 

Miss Americana is for sure one of the best documentaries on Netflix to watch, especially for music lovers as it shows how difficult it is to record music and the hurdles faced by celebrities. 

This celebrity documentary movie also focuses on sensitive subjects such as eating disorders, the toxic social media culture, Taylor’s battle with an eating disorder, and media scrutiny. 

It features various interviews, videos, studio footage, concert recordings, and home videos. 

Taylor Swift’s fans must watch this interesting documentary movie on Netflix. 

IMDb Rating: 7.4/10

Cas: Taylor Swift, Scott Swift, Andrea Swift

Directed by: Lana Wilson

7. Pray Away (2021)

Pray Away is one of the best documentaries on Netflix that features the story of survivors of conversion therapy, who speak out about the harm of therapy to the LGBTQ+ community. 

This American documentary movie was released in 2021 and was lauded by the audience and critics. 

IMDb Rating: 6.5/10

Cast: Michael Bussee, Alan Chambers, Ricky Chelette

Directed by: Kristine Stolakis

8. I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

I Am Not Your Negro is an interesting documentary movie based on the unfinished manuscript of James Baldwin named Remember This House. 

Baldwin’s work would have memorialized his friends Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers – three black men who were assassinated. 

This is one of the best documentary movies on Netflix based on a true story that highlights the story of race in modern America. 

I Am Not Your Negro was nominated for an Oscar award, and won a total number of 33 awards. 

IMDb Rating: 7.9/10

Cast: Samuel L. Jackson (voice), Martin Luther King (archive footage), and James Baldwin (archive footage). 

Directed by: Raoul Peck

9. Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen (2020)

Released in 2020, Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen is one of the best documentaries on social issues. 

The movie starred famous transgender people in the movie industry such as Alexandra Billings, Angelica Ross, Brian Michael Smith, Jessica Crockett, Michael D. Cohen, Leo Shang, Laverne Cox, and so on. 

It follows the real life of transgender people and how transgender people are portrayed inaccurately in movies and TV shows. 

This is a must-watch Netflix documentary movie as it shows the real-life struggles of transgender and the impact of the stereotypes related to transgenders shown in American cinema. 

The movie won 4 awards and was appreciated by the film critics and the audience. 

IMDb Rating: 8.2/10

Directed by: Sam Feder

10. Shirkers (2018)

After the footage of a quirky film shot by Sandi Tan and her friends disappears, she embarks on a journey to look for answers about the disappearance. 

Based on this plot, Shirkers is one of the best documentaries on Netflix that was released in 2018. 

Shirkers premiered in January at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and won the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award. 

The movie was nominated for a lot of awards and won a total of 8 awards. 

IMDb Rating: 7.4/10

Directed by: Sandi Tan

11. No Direction Home (2005)

No Direction Home is one of the best celebrity documentaries on Netflix based on the life of a famous American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan and his impact on American music and culture. 

This is for sure one of the best documentaries on Netflix and won a Primetime Emmy award. 

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

12. Casting JonBenet (2017)

Casting JonBenet is a documentary on a murder mystery and was released in 2017. 

After almost 20 years of speculation, filmmakers explore the murder mystery of a 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey. 

The movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and became an instant hit upon release. 

This is one of the best true crime documentaries on Netflix ever made and is a must-watch. 

IMDb Rating: 6.1/10

Directed by: Kitty Green

13. The Edge of All We Know (2020)

Released in 2020, this is one of the best science documentaries on Netflix. 

This popular Netflix documentary movie follows scientists on their quest to capture the image of a black hole and understand mysterious objects in the universe. 

If you love sci-fi movies, then this is a must-watch movie for you. 

IMDb Rating: 6.6/10

Directed by: Peter Galison

14. Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art (2020)

This crime documentary movie is about a famous art fraud in American history that took place in New York. 

When a woman walks into a New York art gallery with various works from unknown people, a story begins in the world of art and greed.

IMDb Rating: 7.0/10

Directed by: Barry Avrich

15. ReMastered: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke (2019)

This is one of the best documentary movies on Netflix and is based on the demise of Sam Cooke, a popular artist, and activist. It follows the events and controversies surrounding the murder of Sam Cooke. 

In 1964, Cooke was killed by Bertha Franklin in Los Angeles, California. 

ReMastered: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke features interviews with family, friends, academics, and journalists along with archival footage to explore the mystery behind the murder. 

IMDb Rating: 7.2/10

Directed by: Kelly Duane

16. Return to Space (2022)

Return to Space is a documentary movie that follows SpaceX engineers and Elon Musk’s 20-year journey to send NASA astronauts back to space and revolutionize space travel. 

The movie was released in 2022 and opened to a positive response from film critics and the audience.

IMDb Rating: 7.3/10

Directed by: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

17. Schumacher (2021)

Schumacher is a great sports documentary on Netflix that follows the career of seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher. 

The movie features family interviews that will help you gain insight into the personal life of Michael Schumacher. 

This is one of the best documentaries on Netflix to watch if you are an ardent follower of sports. 

IMDb Rating: 7.4/10

Directed by: Hanns-Bruno Kammertöns, Vanessa Nöcker, Michael Wech

18. Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed (2021)

TV host Bob Ross is a famous art instructor and is known for bringing joy to millions of lives. But, his happiness is short-lived as the battle for his business empire shakes his world. 

IMDb Rating: 6.1/10

Directed by: Joshua Rofé

19. My Octopus Teacher (2020)

This is one of the best documentaries on Netflix that is about a filmmaker who makes friends with an octopus living in a kelp forest in South Africa. 

The Octopus Teacher won the award for Best Documentary Feature at the 93rd Academy Awards. 

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

Directed by: Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed

20. Seaspiracy (2021)

Have you ever wondered how much humans harm ocean life? This is one of the best nature documentaries on Netflix that will show you how marine life is disturbed by the activities of humans. 

Seaspiracy is about a filmmaker who is passionate about ocean life and embarks on a journey to document the harm that human beings do to marine species. 

This is one of the best documentary movies on Netflix that will open your eyes and show how humans play with nature. 

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

Cast: Ali Tabrizi, Richard O’Barry, Lucy Tabrizi

Directed by: Ali Tabrizi

21. Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal (2021)

Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal is a popular American documentary movie based on the 2019 college admission bribery scandal. 

The movie was released in 2021 and opened to a positive response upon release. 

IMDb Rating: 6.9/10

Cast: Matthew Modine, Roger Rignack, Jillian Peterson

Directed by: Chris Smith

22. The Ripper (2020)

Based on a true crime story, The Ripper is a TV mini-series that was released on 16th December 2020. This documentary series on Netflix follows a serial killer Peter Sutcliffe who killed around 13 women in West Yorkshire and Manchester – the series explores events and the investigation of the murder mystery. 

The TV mini-series features interviews with survivors, family members of victims, investigators, and journalists. 

The series was well-received by the critics and audience. 

IMDb Rating: 7.1/10

Cast: Alan Whitehouse, Keith Hellawell, Andrew Laptew

Directed by: Jesse Vile, Ellena Wood

23. Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial Killer (2021)

This Netflix documentary series is based on a true story and reveals how a notorious serial killer in America was caught. 

This 4-part crime miniseries documentary is about the infamous serial killer Richard Ramirez and is one of the best documentaries on Netflix about serial killers. 

IMDb Rating: 7.5/10

Directed by: Tiller Russell, James Carroll

24. Miles Davis: Birth of The Cool (2019)

Miles Davis is one of the most influential figures in the history of 20th-century music. He was a bandleader, composer, and American trumpeter. 

In the movie, musicians, family members, friends, and scholars, give an insight into the life of Miles Davis. 

Miles Davis: Birth of The Cool is packed with rare footage, photos, celebrity interviews, and outtakes from recording sessions. 

The movie won 2 awards and is undoubtedly one of the top documentaries on Netflix. 

IMDb Rating: 7.4/10

Directed by: Stanley Nelson

25. What The Health (2017)

This is one of the best documentaries on Netflix about food that explores the link between dietary habits and disease. What The Health? is a movie that criticizes meat, eggs, and dairy products and also questions the practices of pharmaceutical organizations. The movie was highly criticized by dietitians, journalists, and medical doctors.

However, the movie is a must-watch if you want to gain some insight into diet and its effect on our health. 

IMDb Rating: 7.2/10

Directed by: Kip Andersen, Keegan Kuhn

26. Dancing with the Birds (2019)

This documentary movie is about exotic birds who dance, ruffle their feathers and flaunt their moves to get a mate. 

Dancing with the Birds is one of the best animal documentary movies on Netflix that was released in 2019. 

The movie won Best Scientific Content, Best Animal Behaviour at International Wildlife Film Festival 2020. 

IMDb Rating: 8.2/10

Cast: Stephen Fry

Directed by: Huw Cordey

27. BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky (2020)

If you are a fan of K-pop music, then there is no way you haven’t heard about the famous K-pop group Blackpink. 

This documentary movie tells the story of Blackpink as bandmates as well as individuals, and how they rose to fame. 

The documentary was released on 14th October 2020 on Netflix and was described as a captivating film that focuses on each member’s individuality. 

Blackpink: Light Up the Sky is the first-ever Netflix K-pop original content. 

IMDb Rating: 7.3/10

Directed by: Caroline Suh

28. Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King (2022)

In the list of ‘best documentaries on Netflix 2022’, there is no way we can miss Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King. 

When Gerry Cotten, a cryptocurrency millionaire dies, a group of cryptocurrency investigators tries to solve the mystery of his suspicious death as well as the $250 million that they believe he stole from them. 

The movie is so captivating that it will keep you hooked throughout, so watch this classic documentary movie now. 

IMDb Rating: 6.3/10

Directed by: Luke Sewell

29. 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible (2021)

This is one of the best documentaries on Netflix 2021 that is based on a Nirmal Purja, a Nepalese mountaineer who along with his team attempted to climb all the 14 eight thousand peaks in 7 months. 

Peaks: Nothing is Impossible features footage taken by the expedition team, interviews, and images. 

The movie premiered at the DOC NYC Film Festival and received positive reviews from both critics and the audience. 

IMDb Rating: 7.7/10

Cast: Nirmal Purja, Suchi Purja, Klára Kolouchová

Directed by: Torquil Jones

30. The Innocence Files (2020)

The Innocence Files is one of the best true crime documentaries on Netflix that is about wrongful convictions, and how they negatively affect the lives of the people involved. 

The Innocence Project is a project that helps people who haven’t done anything wrong but are convicted. The movie is based on the same project and was released in 2020. 

IMDb Rating: 7.9/10

Cast: Peter Neufeld, Barry Scheck, Michael West

Directed by: Roger Ross Williams

31. Why Did You Kill Me? (2021)

Directed by Fredrick Munk, this is one of the best documentaries on Netflix to watch right now. 

The movie revolves around Belinda Lane who uses social media to track down those who are involved in the murder of her daughter Crystal Theobald. 

Why Did You Kill Me? was released on 14th April 2021 on Netflix and was lauded by the audience. 

IMDb Rating: 5.6/10

Cast: Belinda Lane, Justin Theobald, Jaimie

Directed by: Fredrick Munk

32. Murder Among the Mormons (2021)

Murder Among the Mormons dives into the life of Mark Hoffman and his crimes. It is known that he murdered two people to save his reputation – everything about this crime is shown in a perfect way in this documentary series. 

Murder Among the Mormons received positive feedback from critics and is regarded as one of the best documentaries on Netflix. 

IMDb Rating: 7.0/10

Cast: Dorie Hofmann Olds, Shannon Flynn, Brent Metcalfe

Directed by: Jared Hess, Tyler Measom

33. Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel (2021)

This documentary series on Netflix is about the infamous Cecil Hotel wherein a young girl Elisa Lam vanishes from the hotel room, leaving behind all of her belongings in the room. 

Elisa Lam was found dead after a month at the hotel’s water tank. This popular Netflix documentary movie doesn’t solve the murder mystery but logically follows the possible leads that may have contributed to the crime. 

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel won the award for Television Series: Documentary at Telly Awards 2021. 

IMDb Rating: 5.9/10

Cast: Tim Marcia, Amy Price, Josh Dean

Directed by: Joe Berlinger

34. Pretend It’s a City (2021)

Dive deeper into the mind of humorist and writer Fran Lebowitz with this documentary TV mini-series on Netflix. 

This series features interviews and conversations between Martin Scorsese and Fran Lebowitz. 

Pretend It’s a City was released on 8th January 2021 on Netflix and got nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. 

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

Cast: Fran Lebowitz, Michael Alexis Palmer, Alec Baldwin, Spike Lee, Olivia Wilde, Steven Bozga 

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

35. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (2020)

This documentary movie is narrated by David Attenborough where he shares his concern for the planet and his vision for the future. 

The movie received positive critical reception, with most critics praising the movie for its authority in narration and screenplay. 

The movie was nominated for 5 Primetime Emmys and won 3 of them. It is a must-watch documentary on Netflix for nature lovers. 

IMDb Rating: 8.9/10

Cast: David Attenborough and Max Hughes

Directed by: Alastair Fothergill, Jonathan Hughes, Keith Scholey

36. The Staircase (2004)

Based on a true story, The Staircase is about a crime novelist Michael Peterson who is accused of killing his wife. 

This mini-series follows the investigation and the 16-year judicial battle that followed. 

The series premiered on 5th May 2022 on HBO Max and was loved by both critics and the audience. 

IMDb Rating: 7.2/10

Cast: Colin Firth, Toni Collette, Michael Stuhlbarg

Directed by: Antonio Campos and Leigh Janiak

37. Athlete A (2020)

The movie is about a doctor Larry Nassar who sexually assaulted young female gymnasts and was released on 24th June 2020 on Netflix. 

Larry Nassar was a trainer of USA Gymnastics and over 500 women accused him of sexual assault. 

The documentary shows the story of gymnasts who survived the abuse as well as the reporters who exposed the toxic culture at USAG. 

Athlete A got nominated for nine awards and won three awards including Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary, Outstanding Investigative Documentary, and Hoosier Award. 

IMDb Rating: 7.6/10

Cast: Maggie Nichols, Gina Nichols, John Nichols

Directed by: Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk

38. Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich (2020)

Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich is an American documentary web series based on the book Filthy Rich: A Powerful Billionaire, the Sex Scandal that Undid Him, and All the Justice that Money Can Buy: The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein written by James Patterson, and co-written by John Connolly and Tim Malloy. 

This is one of the best documentaries on Netflix that is about a convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and how he used his power and wealth to abuse people. 

The documentary mini-series features interviews with survivors, staff members, and a former police chief. 

This is a must-watch documentary series based on a true crime story. 

IMDb Rating: 7.1/10

Cast: Michael Reiter, Annie Farmer, Shawna Rivera

Directed by: Lisa Bryant

39. American Factory (2019)

This is an Oscar-winning movie that is about a Chinese company that reopens an abandoned factory in Ohio. 

But what begins as hope soon turns into a culture clash between America and China. 

American Factory is the first film that was acquired by Higher Ground Productions, owned by Barack Obama and Michelle Obama.

It won various prestigious awards including an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at Academy Awards, USA 2020, Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Documentary/Nonfiction Program at Primetime Emmy Awards 2020, Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking at Cinema Eye Honors Awards, US 2020, and so on. 

IMDb Rating: 7.4/10

Cast: Junming ‘Jimmy’ Wang, Robert Allen, Sherrod Brown

Directed by: Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert

40. Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness (2020)

With the name, you might think it is an animal documentary series showing how animals are treated at a zoo. Well, not so fast!

The series starts with America’s roadside zoo but soon shows the tale of feuds, polygamy, and murder. 

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness was watched by 34 million in its first days on Netflix. 

The series was loved by the audience and grew popular in a short span of time, but it was criticized by the animal rights group for providing inaccurate details about wildlife conservation issues. 

IMDb Rating: 7.5/10

Cast: Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin, John Reinke

Directed by: Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin

41. Dirty Money (2018)

This is one of the best documentaries on Netflix that explores various stories exposing the corruption, greed, violence, and crime prevalent globally. 

Dirty Money is a mini-series and each episode focuses on a unique story about corruption and features interviews. 

This Netflix documentary series was so successful that a second season was made and it premiered on 11th March 2020. 

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

Cast: Matt Taibbi, Fisher Stevens, Alex Gibney

Directed by: Alex Gibney

42. The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann (2019)

This is a documentary series that explores the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, a three-year-old girl who went on a holiday with her family in Portugal and vanished from the seaside resort of Praia de Luz. 

The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann shows the investigation and media clips from the case. 

IMDb Rating: 6.7/10

Cast: Anthony Summers, Jim Gamble, Sandra Felgueiras, Susan Hubbard, Gonçalo Amaral, Robert Murat, Robbyn Swan, Haynes Hubbard, Jon Clarke, Kelvin Mackenzie, Ernie Allen, Brian Kennedy, Paulo Pereira Cristovao, Patrick Kennedy

Directed by: Chris Smith

Honorable mentions of the best documentaries on Netflix:

1. Wild Wild Country (2018)

2. Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (2019)

3. Knock Down the House (2019)

4. White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch (2022)

5. Downfall: The Case Against Boeing (2022)

6. Pelé (2021)

7. Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami (2021)

8. Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed (2021)

9. Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir (2021)

10. Explained (2019)

This was the list of the best documentaries on Netflix that you can watch any time to pass your time and gain some insight into real crime stories, celebrity’s lives, and more. 

Also Read: 23 best funny movies on Netflix that are binge-worthy

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