TV & Movies

15 Of The Best Documentaries To Watch On Netflix NZ

By Bianka Dorman
31st Jan 2020

Miss Americana poster

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.

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. 


Some are calling it the best series to ever hit streaming services... and we'd back that. Netflix’s documentary series Cheer follows the competitive cheerleaders of Navarro College in Corsicana, TX. How many full-outs will they achieve? Who will make mat? And which team is destined for greatness at Daytona? Led by Monica Aldama, the small junior college has won 14 National Championships since 2000. The stakes on the mat are high, but for these athletes, the only thing more brutal than their workouts and more exceptional than their performances are the stories of adversity and triumph behind the team members themselves (team Jerry all the way). The Navarro College cheerleaders face injuries, sacrifice, personal setbacks and triumphs, all leading up to one nail-biting and adrenaline-pumping final competition at the National Championship.

Kevin Hart: Don’t F**k This Up

This six-part docu-series goes behind the comedians funny facade and delves deep into his personal life. Hart offers a no holds barred look into his childhood, his turbulent relationship with his family to his rise to fame and his life today. We have to give him major props for opening up about the scandals he’s been a part of too, namely when he was caught cheating on his wife and the fallout from the Oscar controversy. Love him or hate him, you’ll have a newfound respect for Hart’s honesty after watching this. 

Fire In Paradise

On the morning of November 8, 2018, a seemingly small fire broke out in Butte County, California near the town of Paradise. Over the course of a few short hours, the "Camp Fire" grew into the country’s deadliest wildfire in over a century, killing 85 people and destroying Paradise. Through first-hand footage of the disaster and personal interviews with survivors and emergency responders, Fire In Paradise vividly retells the terrifying survival stories from that day.

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.

The Great Hack

Data has surpassed oil as the world’s most valuable asset. It’s being weaponized to wage cultural and political warfare. People everywhere are in a battle for control of our most intimate personal details so enter, The Great Hack. The only doco you need to get around this week. From award-winning filmmakers Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim, this one uncovers the dark world of data exploitation with astounding access to the personal journeys of key players on different sides of the explosive Cambridge Analytica/Facebook data scandal.

Surviving R.Kelly

Surviving R. Kelly is a doco that gives a sling of young women the spotlight to reveal new allegations about the R&B artist’s physical, mental and sexual abuse. There’s no denying R.Kelly’s career has been plagued with stories of predatory behaviour so expect more than 50 interviews with those including civil rights activist Tarana Burke, musicians John Legend and Sparkle, talk show host Wendy Williams, and some of R. Kelly's family members.

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. 

Ted Bundy Tapes

Seriously creepy and a must watch for crime-obsessed humans. This four-part series exposes some dark secrets and gives an insight into the twisted mind of one of America’s most notorious serial killers, Ted Bundy. He was a seemingly “normal” and extremely intelligent psychology graduate who was passionate about politics and managed to uphold all that “All-American” wholesomeness. But behind the façade, he was pure evil. His confessions will chill you to the bone. 

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.

Evil Genius

The true-crime story of one of America’s most diabolical bank heists. In 2003, a bank robbery took place but when the burglar was caught, he was found to have a bomb around his neck. He pleaded with authorities to help him find the key to unlock the bomb but shortly after the bomb detonated and he died.  The overarching mystery now is who coerced him to do it? The four-part Netflix series delves into the manhunt for who is responsible for the crime. It’s bizarre and you’ll be on the edge of your seat as it takes a series of unsuspecting twists and turns making you question who is responsible.


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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