10Man on Wire (2008)
#10 on our top 10 documentaries list is Man on Wire. On August 7, 1974 Philippe Petit made a decision to squeeze every molecule out of his life. Suspended between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center – 1350 feet in the sky – Petit walked from one building to the other. This documentary will show you how he conceived, planned, and executed the “artistic crime of the century.” This film will breath life into your lungs like none other.
9The Devil Came on Horseback (2007)
The film follows Brian Steidle, a man who’s entire career has been military-based. He served as a USMC captain and when he would no longer see combat, he left the military and accepted a contract position in Sudan with the Joint Military Commission, where he would be an integral part of the North-South ceasefire. Steidle rose through the ranks from a team leader to senior operations officer. After seven months, he was invited to Darfur, where he would serve as an unarmed military observer and American representative for the African Union in that region. It’s not your standard war movie, but Devil documents Mr. Steidle extraordinary eyewitness accounts perfectly.
8When We Were Kings (1996)
#8 on our top 10 documentaries list is a boxing movie starring arguably the greatest boxer ever. Do you want to know who the real Muhammad Ali is? Look no further than this amazing documentary. In 1974, boxers Muhammad Ali and George Foreman came to the still-emerging and politically unstable African nation of Zaire for what Ali called the “Rumble in the Jungle,” a highly publicized world heavyweight championship fight. Documentarian Leon Gast flew to Zaire to film both the fight and a music festival (featuring B.B. King, The Pointer Sisters, and Miriam Makeba) organized by promoter Don King.
7F for Fake (1974)
Next up on our top 10 documentaries is F for Fake a film by legendary filmmaker Orsen Welles. Through a combination of documentary and staged footage, Welles attempts to illustrate the deception behind all filmmaking, even that of a supposedly nonfiction variety. Welles openly re-edits and manipulates this footage, using it as foundation for his own commentary, arguing that there is an extremely close relationship between art and lying, and citing instances from his own career to prove the point. The last film project of one of films best directors is also one of his most telling.
6Brooklyn Castle (2012)
Do you play chess? These kids are chess masters, and come in at #6 on our top 10 documentaries list. It has been said that learning to play chess increases critical thinking. If that’s true, these kids will become the cities finest thinkers. Brooklyn Castle is the remarkable and improbable true story of I.S. 318 in Brooklyn. The school, where 65% of students live below the federal poverty level, has the highest ranked junior high chess team in the nation. A really incredible story of defying odds, stereotypes, and the competition.
5Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
Our top 10 documentaries that educate and entertain list continues with #5 Fahrenheit 9/11. Michael Moore’s political documentary uses humor and connect-the-dots investigative journalism to question the Bush administration’s motives for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The film argues that President George W. Bush and his inner circle used the media to further an agenda that exploited the 9/11 attacks.
4Inside Job (2010)
If you told America that the financial catastrophe of 2008 was avoidable, most people would not be able to fathom it. Perhaps it was the total estimated cost of 20 trillion dollar price tag. Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job does a dynamite job of exposing the scary truth behind the worst economic meltdown in decades. Fantastically researched, learn how millions of homeowners lost both their jobs and the roof over their heads. Interviews with layman, financial heavyweights, politicians and journalists takes us in the trenches of this ugly mess.
3Waste Land (2010)
Most documentaries have common to them: shedding the light on a problem or issue. No where is that more apparent in recent years than in Waste Land. Filmed over nearly three years, Waste Land follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world’s largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of “catadores” – or self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz’s initial objective was to “paint” the catadores with garbage.
2Food, Inc. (2008)
In the never ending vain to make a dollar, food conglomerates and special interest groups do whatever is necessary to get chemically manipulated, and scientifically modified foods in our hands expeditiously. Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner offers his eye-opening documentary as a life changing experience rather than mere entertainment. What really is the state of our corporate farming in the United States, and why is having such major adverse effects on our healthy? Watch, listen and learn from narrators Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser.
1Bowling for Columbine (2002)
The second amendment to the Constitution–the individual right to keep and bear arms–cost more than 16,000 American lives yearly. Michael Moore’s breakout documentary movie goes much deeper than just that statistic–he is looking for answers to it all. What is at the base of our never-ending love affair with firearms and the pathology of violence in the United States, which has the highest murder rate–by guns–in the world. Why do other countries, both larger and smaller, have a fraction of the gun owners found in the U.S.? Mr. Moore has some compelling thoughts on this crucial subject.