TV & Movies

Check Out 14 Of The Best Documentaries To Watch On Netflix

By Jessica Best
29th Jun 2020

An American gymnast is captured mid-flip in the air. Behind her is a red and white flag.

Ready for a Netflix binge session? We’ve done the hard yards for you and rounded up the best Netflix documentaries you need to watch right now. From the intriguing to the shocking, it’s all here.

Here are all the best Netflix documentaries to watch right now.

Athlete A 

Athlete A follows a team of reporters from The Indianapolis Star as they investigate claims of abuse at USA Gymnastics, one of America’s most prominent Olympic organisations. Two years later, Olympic doctor Larry Nassar is behind bars, the US Congress is demanding answers and hundreds of survivors are speaking out. Equal parts devastating and inspiring, the doco reveals the culture of cruelty that was allowed to thrive within elite-level gymnastics, the attorney fighting the institutions, and most importantly, the brave athletes who refuse to be silenced, fought the system and triumphed. Keep the tissues close for this one. 

Disclosure 

This doco delivers an unprecedented and eye-opening look at transgender depictions in film and television, revealing how Hollywood simultaneously reflects and manufactures our deepest anxieties about gender. Leading trans thinkers and creatives, including Laverne Cox, Lilly Wachowski, Yance Ford, MJ Rodriguez, Jamie Clayton, and Chaz Bono, share their reactions and resistance to some of Hollywood’s most beloved moments. Reframing familiar scenes and iconic characters in a new light, director Sam Feder invites viewers to confront unexamined assumptions, and shows how what once captured the public’s imagination now elicit new feelings. This one is an absolute must watch. 

Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich

This could be one of the scariest documentaries of the year and if you’re in the mood for some really messed up stuff, this is the one for you. We all know the horrendous circumstances surrounding the mysterious tycoon Jeffery Epstein, his name made headlines last year after he was accused of abusing women and underage girls for decades, assembling a network of faithful enablers (all in great positions of power) to help carry out and cover up his crimes. He managed to lie and manipulate his way to the top of the financial world, eventually gaining tremendous wealth while running an international sex trafficking ring. 

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem And Madness

It’s the seriously whack docuseries that has taken 2020 by storm. If you haven’t already watched this one and you’re wondering what all the big fuss is about, let us enlighten you. Among the eccentrics and cult personalities in the stranger-than-fiction world of big cat owners in the US, few stand out more than Joe Exotic, a mulleted, gun-toting polygamist and country-western singer who presides over an Oklahoma roadside zoo. Charismatic but misguided, Joe and an unbelievable cast of characters including drug kingpins, conmen, and cult leaders all share a passion for big cats, and the status and attention their dangerous menageries garner. But things take a dark turn when Carole Baskin, an animal activist and owner of a big cat sanctuary, threatens to put them out of business, stoking a rivalry that eventually leads to Joe’s arrest for a murder-for-hire plot, and reveals a twisted tale where the only thing more dangerous than a big cat is its owner. 

The Innocence Files

Through the lens of "The Evidence", "The Witness" and "The Prosecution", The Innocence Files shines a powerful light on the untold personal stories behind eight cases of wrongful conviction that the nonprofit organization the Innocence Project and organizations within the Innocence Network have uncovered and worked tirelessly to overturn. These stories expose difficult truths about the state of America’s deeply flawed criminal justice system, while showing when the innocent are convicted, it's not just one life that is irreparably damaged forever: families, victims of crime and trust in the system are also broken in the process (this one is set to drop April 15).

Trials Of Gabriel Fernandez

In 2013, eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez died as a result of horrific and prolonged abuse by his mother and her boyfriend. In the wake of the tragedy, a demand for justice and accountability exploded in Los Angeles County. This six-part documentary series from award-winning documentarian Brian Knappenberger (Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press) offers an inside look at the trial as well as an eye-opening investigation into the government systems that failed to protect Gabriel, despite multiple reports and warning signs.

Miss Americana

There’s no denying it, Taylor Swift has had a rough old time with the media and her fellow celebs—we’re looking at you Kayne. In an effort for the public to see what life is like behind the microphone, Swift has teamed up with Netflix to produce Miss Americana. This raw and emotionally revealing look at Swift dives deep into a transformational period in her life. The film tells the story of Swift navigating the difference between who the world wants her to be, and who she wants to be. Regardless of whether you're team Swift or not, this doco will make you realise there's a person behind all the tabloids. 

The Game Changers

If you’re keen to get around one of the most hyped documentaries right now, hit up The Game Changers. Directed by the Oscar award-winning Louie Psihoyos (who you know from The Cove), and produced by Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron, this revolutionary new film delves into everything you need to know about meat, protein and strength. We won't say you'll be an avid plant-based eater by the end of this one, but by god, you'll never look at meat the same again.

Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates

Whether you still use Microsoft products or not, we all recognise Windows as the operating system of our childhood. It’s the reason we know how to use computers today. And it all came out of Bill Gates’ head. A walking, talking, supercomputer himself, the billionaire software creator loves nothing more than to absorb information and use it to problem-solve. And the problems he’s trying to solve now? Energy, immunisation, and the climate crisis. No big deal. From the Academy Award-winning director of An Inconvenient Truth, Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates maps the unique thinking of one of the greatest minds of our time as he tackles the greatest issues of our time. 

Fyre Festival

Primed as a luxury music festival on an exotic island, this Netflix documentary gives a behind the scenes look into one of the most anticipated festivals ever – that never actually happened. Fyre Festival provides an insight into one of the biggest lawsuits of its kind while exposing secrets of the organisers that thought they could get away with a bunch of serious crimes. 

Gaga Five Foot Two

She’s one of the biggest pop stars of our time and now this Netflix documentary gives you a real glimpse of the raw, uncut Gaga. It gives you a year-long look at her life off stage, at home and in the recording studio in the lead up to her 2017 Super Bowl performance, exposing traumas . Follow her highs and lows and personal journey to finding a balance between her stage persona and day to day life as a normal woman.

Icarus

A little left of centre but none the list very worthy of this list, this documentary takes a closer look into one of the most controversial athletic scandals in history – doping. Filmmaker, Bryan Fogel, who also has a keen interest in cycling volunteers himself as a human guinea pig to test whether he can complete a successful doping regimen without being detected by the sport’s intense drug testing procedure. He invests in the help of a Russian scientist – Putin’s most wanted whistle-blower to help cheat the drug test, uncovering insights about the biggest scandal in sporting history. 

Abducted In Plain Sight

If you’re obsessed at the moment with the overload of true crime series and podcasts about, then you’ll need to add this to your list. It’s disturbing, disgusting and downright distressing. Abducted In Plain Sight tells the story of 12-year-old Jan Broberg who was kidnapped twice in a two-year period by the same man – her mother and father’s family friend and neighbour, Robert Berchtold. Robert essentially has an incomprehensible infatuation with Jan and a manipulative hold on her parents which gives way to some pretty horrific events (no spoilers though).

The White Helmets

The White Helmets is a Netflix original short documentary, set in Aleppo, Syria and Turkey in early 2016. As the violence intensifies, the Netflix documentary follows three volunteer rescue workers as they put everything on the line to save civilians affected by the war, all the while wracked with worry about the safety of their own loved ones. Moving and inspiring, The White Helmets (directed by Academy Award®–nominated director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara) is both a snapshot of the harrowing realities of life for ordinary Syrians who remain in the country, and a humbling portrait of the power of the human spirit.

Still got time to spare? Here are all the best movies to watch on Netflix right now.

Image credit: Netflix

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