Some of you may have possibly read our previous feature, 10 Documentaries You Need To See Before You Die. Well, we decided that 10 wasn't enough and that there's way more documentaries out there that deserve your attention. So, without further ado, here's ten more documentaries you should definitely see before you die.
10. 20 FEET FROM STARDOM (2013)
Back-up singers wouldn't necessarily jump at you as an interesting subject matter for a documentary. After all, whether it's in a live performance or in a song, your attention isn't fixed on them - it's fixed on whoever's out in front. 20 Feet From Stardom showcases the world behind the spotlight of the world's greatest singers. Often touching and emotional, it shows what it's like to live in someone's shadow, the realities of chasing one's dream and what it means to be a part of great music - even if it isn't your own. Deservedly so, 20 Feet From Stardom won an Oscar for Best Documentary.
9. THE KING OF KONG: A FISTFUL OF QUARTERS (2007)
Arcade gaming can now be considered a dead medium, but at one time, it was truly something to see. Brightly-lit cabinets as far as the eye could see. In 1982, Billy Mitchell set the World Record for Donkey Kong and remained unchallenged for almost twenty years. Pitching the film almost as a John McEnroe / Bjorn Borg rivalry with all the histrionics that that entails, The King of Kong is less about retro videogames and more about obsession and what it costs. Just don't ever say that it's just a videogame.
8. SPELLBOUND (2002)
A documentary about a spelling bee championship doesn't sound like it could be enthralling or tense. And yet, Spellbound is more nail-biting than some of the best thrillers you're likely to see. Taking a look at the Scripps Howard Annual Spelling Bee in 1999, it shows talented teenagers battling against one another via the medium of spelling. Like most situations, it's the parents in the background that make it all the more difficult. Spellbound was nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar in 2002, but sadly lost out to...
7. BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE (2002)
It could be argued that few films popularised the anti-gun movement more than Bowling For Columbine. The controversial documentary still resonates today, almost twelve years after its release. Michael Moore's cutting take on American gun culture spurred debate and political change and is still referenced as one of the most provocative documentaries in American cinema. As well as showing first-hand accounts of people involved in the gun lobby - be it gunshop owners, NRA members or militamen - Moore's documentary also blends these with outspoken critics in the form of Marilyn Manson, South Park's Trey Parker & Matt Stone and many more. Entertaining and incisive, Bowling For Columbine is Moore's greatest work.
6. TRINITY & BEYOND (1995)
It might just be a catalogue of grainy, vintage footage of atomic bomb tests and declassified instructional videos from the 1950's, but Trinity & Beyond shows the horrifying results of nuclear war. Mixed with an loud, brash orchestra soundtrack and William Shatner of all people narrating it, Trinity & Beyond explores the history of the A-Bomb and just how much ingenuity went into the total destruction of life on earth.
5. HOOP DREAMS (1994)
Sports documentaries are very often about players at the height of their game. You take When We Were Kings, it follows Mohammed Ali's greatest fight against George Foreman in the Rubmle in the Jungle. Yet, with Hoop Dreams, it takes a different approach. Following two teenagers who have been recruited into a privileged high school as part of their basketball team, it shows the highs and lows of their academic and sporting lives. As well as this, it truly showcases the social and economic divide in American society, all focused through the prism of high school basketball. The film is now more known for the fact that it changed the voting system for Best Documentary at the Oscars. Having failed to secure a nomination and a public outcry, the system was completely revamped after Hoop Dreams was excluded from the 1995 Academy Awards.
4. SHOAH (1985)
Not so much a documentary as it is a document of oral history, Shoah is the incredible story of the greatest evil of modern times - the Holocaust. Clocking in at almost nine and a half hours, Shoah uses interview footage from actual Holocaust survivors mixed with haunting photography from Auschwitz, Treblinka and the remaining concentration camps. Dark, uncompromising and brutally honest, Shoah is considered one of the greatest documentaries ever made.
3. WOODSTOCK (1970)
The documentary of Woodstock pretty much wrote the rulebook for all future concert documentaries. Extended performances from bands? Check. Random reveller focused on and followed throughout concert? Check. Backstage interviews with half-stoned musicians? Double-check. Featuring legendary performances from Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell and Richie Havens, Woodstock is the only documentary on 60's music worth talking about.
2. GRIZZLY MAN (2005)
Werner Herzog may be more known for his dramatic works, including Bad Lieutenant and Aguirre: The Wrath of God, but his work as a documentary-maker is equally fascinating and engaging. Following the life and (death) of naturist Timothy Treadwell, Herzog explores what drove a normal man to strike out and live amongst wild bears for over thirteen years. The subject of the documentary takes in Treadwell's desire to live amongst bears in Alaska, his friends and colleagues and his own death - ironically at the hands of a bear. Herzog's narration is clever and measured, never needlessly barging in when the footage speaks all on its own. One of the most fascinating documentaries you're likely to see on nature and wildlife.
1. THE THIN BLUE LINE (1988)
No, not the sitcom with Rowan Atkinson. Errol Morris investigates the murder of a police officer in Dallas and uses re-enactments (then unheard of) to investigate and ultimately overturn the conviction that would have saw two young men put to death. Morris' tenacious interviewing style, mixed with a dogged persistence makes The Thin Blue Line as engaging and thrilling as any police procedural you'd see on TV. As much as it is about investigating a crime and revealing the facts, The Thin Blue Line is about the power of the truth to overturn evil in society.