2020 in review: Best documentary films of the year


Like I said before, the reason I separate documentaries into their own best of the year list is not because I think they should be judged differently from feature films, but because I want to putting as many great docs in the limelight as I possibly can, and trying to do that while limiting my main roster to 40 or 50 movies is impossible. I get such a load of a great documentary, whether it’s about a topic I’m familiar with or if it covers ground I had never even considered in terms of perspective, information, or fuel for it. indignation.

Image courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

That being said, I fully admit a gap in my selections this year: I haven’t watched any documentaries this year that dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic. Admittedly, there weren’t that many (Totally under control and 76 days being the most notable), but I feel like we’re going to be bombarded with movies on the subject of the current pandemic – in particular, America’s severe mismanagement of it – over the next couple of years. , and I just wanted to get away from the threat of the coronavirus a bit before delving into documentaries on the subject. I might feel different in 2021, but I couldn’t bring myself to look directly into the subject’s eyes in a 2020 movie.

Part of the fun of being a living, thinking and evolving human being is integrating new things and experiences and allowing that newness to inspire us with new ideas. That’s the standard I hold documentaries to: don’t just move me or teach me, but change me in a fundamental way. Here are 20 tracks that I think do just that …

20. Vinyl country (Director: Christopher Boone & Kevin Smokler) – Read my full review

19. Creem: the only American Rock ‘N’ Roll magazine (Director: Scott Crawford)

18. I am Greta (Director: Nathan Grossman)

17. Assassins (Director: Ryan White)

16. The truffle hunters (Director: Michael Dweck & Gregory Kershaw)

15. MLK / FBI (Director: Sam Pollard)

14. Beastie Boys Story (Director: Spike Jonze)

13. The way i see it (Director: Dawn Porter) – Read my full review

12. The painter and the thief (Director: Benjamin Ree)

11. Zappa (Director: Alex Winter)

ten. Bloody nose, empty pockets (Director: Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross)

9. Crip Camp (Director: James Lebrecht & Nicole Newnham)

8. Time (Director: Garrett Bradley)

seven. Dick Johnson is dead (Director: Kirsten Johnson)

6. The dissident (Director: Bryan Fogel)

5. On the file (Director: Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering)

4. State of the boys (Director: Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss)

3. Town hall (Director: Frederick Wiseman) – Read my full review

2. David Byrne’s American Utopia (Director: Spike Lee)

1. Collective (Director: Alexandre Nanau)

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