Top 5 documentaries of 2021


2021 has been the year of some of the greatest biographies and documentaries, as well as series, and every streaming giant has done their best.

From films about Britney Spears’ tutelage to the dysfunctional police system in Mexico, the genre covered every aspect. There are plenty more documentaries to look forward to next year also on Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video.


5 must-see documentaries of 2021

Here’s a look at the top 5 documentary films of 2021, ranked based on the “tomatometer” on Rotten Tomatoes.

5) cusp

Cusp takes place in a small military town in Texas and revolves around three teenage girls having a feverish dream summer. Through their characters, early filmmakers Parker Hill and Isabel Bethencourt share a fascinating glimpse into authentic American life, where adolescence comes up against a growing desire for personal agency.

The documentary holds around twenty 88% on Rotten Tomatoes with an IMDb rating of 5.5. It’s available to stream on Showtime and Prime Video. According to the Washington Post:

“In this spellbinding, revealing and deeply compassionate film, viewers are left with an indelible impression from childhood to its most precarious and indomitable.”


4) a cop movie

A cop movie revolves around Teresa and Montoya, who joined the police as a family tradition, to see their beliefs and hopes crushed by the world’s most controversial institutions. The documentary has an experimental style of storytelling and storytelling, propelling viewers into an unusual cinematic space.

The film holds about twenty 92% on Rotten Tomatoes with a rating of 7.1 on IMDb. A cop movie is available to stream on Netflix, and according to The New Yorker:

“Narrative play merges with investigative journalism in this remarkable hybrid docu-fiction, directed by Alonso Ruizpalacios.”


3) procession

Procession revolves around a group of survivors of sexual abuse, harmed by Catholic priests. The film features their battles for justice and collaborates to create fictional scenes depicting rituals of power in the church. The documentary is available to stream on Netflix.

The film holds about twenty 97% on rotten tomatoes and a 7.1 rating on IMDb. According to Rolling Stone:

“These guys are the ones who are going through the worst times of their lives on purpose, jumping into an abyss with faith that there can be something healing on the other side. Name something that’s more heroic than that.”


2) ESCAPE

TO FLEE revolves around Amin Nawabi as he grapples with a hidden secret that threatens to derail the life he has built for himself and his fiancé. The film is primarily hosted by director Jonas Poher Rasmussen, who shares his extraordinary journey as a refugee child from Afghanistan.

The documentary holds around twenty 98% on rotten tomatoes and a 8.2 rating on IMDb. TO FLEE is available to stream on MUBI, and according to Los Angeles Times:

“An intimate portrait of the enduring trauma of displacement and one of the most human films of the year.”


1) summer of the soul

A first film by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Summer of the soul is a powerful musical documentary that highlights an epic event that celebrated Black history, culture and fashion. The film includes previously unreleased footage from the Harlem Cultural Festival and highlights the importance of history in spiritual well-being. The documentary is available to stream on Hulu and Hotstar.

Summer of the soul features unreleased concerts by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Ray Baretto, Abbey Lincoln & Max Roach and more. He holds a score of 99% on Rotten Tomatoes with an IMDb rating of 8.2.

According to Rolling Stone:

“Summer of Soul is both a tribute to the artists and, just as importantly, to their audiences – which is what makes it not only a great concert film but a great documentary, period.”

Stream the best of 2021 documentaries online and get carried away.


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Edited by Mason J. Schneider


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