5 Best Movies to Watch by Oprah Winfrey

Staff & contributors

Disclosure is a patient and articulate study of the ways movies have physically conditioned us to respond to certain expressions of queerness with fear, disgust, or laughter. But it also serves as a reminder that trans bodies have been represented on screen for as long as movies have existed—making it all the more unacceptable that we still often only see reductive and harmful stereotypes of trans people over 100 years since the birth of cinema. However, Disclosure is far from a "takedown" designed to make viewers feel bad. At the end of it all this remains a celebration film's power to dignify perspectives we rarely get to see through, and it's one of the nerdiest and most passionate trips through film history you could hope to have.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Ajita Wilson, Alexandra Billings, Alexandra Grey, Angelica Ross, Anne Heywood, Arsenio Hall, Barbra Streisand, Bianca Leigh, Blanche Sweet, Brian Michael Smith, Caitlyn Jenner, Candis Cayne, Candy Darling, Carmen Carrera, Cathy Moriarty, Chaz Bono, Chloe Sevigny, Chris Sarandon, Christine Jorgensen, Crystal LaBeija, D'Lo, Dana Wynter, Daniela Sea, Daniela Vega, David E. Harrison, Divine, Dorian Corey, Dustin Hoffman, Eddie Redmayne, Edith Storey, Elliot Fletcher, Eric Gurry, Esme Percy, Ethel Lloyd, Flip Wilson, Gary Collins, Georges Du Fresne, Glenn Close, Hailie Sahar, Harry Langdon, Henry B. Walthall, Hilary Swank, Holly Woodlawn, Jack Doroshow, Jackie Curtis, James Garner, Jamie Clayton, Janet McTeer, Jared Leto, Jaye Davidson, Jazzmun, Jean Harlow, Jeffrey Tambor, Jen Richards, Jessica Crockett, Jim Carrey, Joan Rivers, John Gavin, John Lazar, John Lithgow, John Lone, Julie Andrews, Junior LaBeija, Katie Couric, Kim Kardashian, Lady Chablis, Laverne Cox, Leo Sheng, Lesley Ann Warren, Lilly Wachowski, Mandy Patinkin, Marquise Vilson, Mary Badham, Matthew McConaughey, Mercedes Ruehl, Michael Blodgett, Michael D. Cohen, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Milton Berle, Mya Taylor, Nick Adams, Octavia St. Laurent, Oprah Winfrey, Paris Dupree, Pepper LaBeija, Peter Scolari, Phil Donahue, Rain Valdez, Raúl Juliá, Ray Charles, Robert Preston, Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, Roscoe Arbuckle, Sandra Caldwell, Sean Young, Ser Anzoategui, Stephen Rea, Susan Stryker, Sylvia Rivera, T.C. Jones, Tim Moore, Tom Hanks, Trace Lysette, Veronica Redd, Vivian Vance, Wendy Williams, William Hurt, Yance Ford, Zackary Drucker

Director: Sam Feder

Rating: R

, 2014

The award-winning third feature by director Ava DuVernay, Selma, was released around the 50th anniversary of the historically significant marches (Selma to Montgomery) that aided the civil rights movement's efforts to assure African-American citizens can exercise their constitutional right to vote, harassment-free. The film has been celebrated not only as an artwork, but also as a historiographically accurate one. While it features the role Martin Luther King Jr. played in the marches, it does not reduce the activists' effort and struggle to make it come to fruition. With her uncompromising directorial approach, DuVernay crafts a thrilling period film that has all the markers of a well-done genre feature, but uses its mechanisms to tell an emotionally potent story about both the peaceful marches and the nation-wide outcry resulting from the violence they were met with.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Alessandro Nivola, Andre Holland, Carmen Ejogo, Charity Jordan, Charles Black, Colman Domingo, Common, Corey Reynolds, Cuba Gooding Jr., David Dwyer, David Oyelowo, Dylan Baker, E. Roger Mitchell, Giovanni Ribisi, Greg Maness, Harry Belafonte, Haviland Stillwell, Henry G. Sanders, Jeremy Strong, Jim France, Jody Thompson, John Lavelle, Kent Faulcon, Lakeith Stanfield, Ledisi, Lorraine Toussaint, Martin Sheen, Michael Papajohn, Montrel Miller, Niecy Nash, Nigel Thatch, Omar J. Dorsey, Oprah Winfrey, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Sammy Davis Jr., Stan Houston, Stephan James, Stephen Root, Tara Ochs, Tessa Thompson, Tim Roth, Tom Wilkinson, Tony Bennett, Trai Byers, Wendell Pierce

Director: Ava DuVernay

Rating: PG-13

For the longest time, it was always about how wrestling was affected by David Arquette; this documentary finally turns it around and asks how Arquette was affected by pro wrestling. We get interviews from his family that mostly look down on his silly wrestling phase; and from established wrestling personalities that, despite dated fan perceptions, welcome him at every turn. We really get in the weeds of Arquette’s motivations, anxieties, and training for a comeback tour on the indies. The audio levels may be a little erratic, but the intangible rawness combined with its polished nature make this a very fitting film for the wild man.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: André Roussimoff, Aurelian Smith Jr., Bill Goldberg, Billy Corgan, Booker Huffman, Booker Huffman, Jr., Brett Giehl, Brian Yandrisovitz, Brian Zachary Pillman, Chris Jericho, Chris Klucsarits, Coco Arquette, Conan O'Brien, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, David Penzer, Dusty Rhodes, Elizabeth Hulette, Ellen DeGeneres, Eric Bischoff, George Murdoch, Harvey Levin, Hulk Hogan, Jack Perry, James Ellsworth Morris, Jay Leno, Jeffrey Jarrett, Jerome Saganovich, Jerome Young, Jerry Lawler, Jim Cornette, Jim Fullington, Joe Rogan, Joseph Ryan Meehan, Julian Micevski, Karen Yu, Ken Anderson, Kevin Nash, Kurt Russell, Lewis Arquette, Luke Perry, Mark LoMonaco, Maxwell Friedman, Michael Lee Alfonso, Mick Foley, Monty Sopp, Mr. T, Nathan Blauvelt, Nicholas W. Wilson, Noah Nelms, Oprah Winfrey, Page Falkinburg Jr., Patricia Arquette, Randy Poffo, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Richmond Arquette, Rob Strauss, Rosanna Arquette, Scott Colton, Scott Hall, Timothy Moura, Tony Schiavone, Vince Russo, Virgil Runnels, Wendy Williams

Director: David Darg, Price James

Rating: R

, 2021

A music documentary with its star as one of its main talking heads runs the risk of coming off like cheap PR, but Tina Turner's own articulate insights never restrict this retrospective on her life. If anything, she assists directors Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin in expanding the film's scope to cover the origins of rock music and the struggles of so many women in the public eye who only ever seem to be defined according to their abusers. Even if Tina is still ultimately a conventional doc that relies on interviews and archival footage, it has a strong emotional core that gives the film a relatively unique psychological edge.

Genre: Documentary, Music

Actor: Angela Bassett, Erwin Bach, Katori Hall, Kurt Loder, Oprah Winfrey, Roger Davies, Tina Turner

Director: Daniel Lindsay, T. J. Martin

Rating: R

Brooke Shields talks openly about her controversial past in this two-part documentary on Hulu. Through interviews and archival footage, the former child actor and model walks us through every contentious event in her life, from starring in the mature film Pretty Baby at age 12 to modeling tight jeans for Calvin Klein at age 16.

It’s a disturbing and enraging account of child exploitation, and the documentary does well to frame this as a system-wide issue instead of an isolated incident.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Brooke Shields, Drew Barrymore, Judd Nelson, Laura Linney, Lionel Richie, Louis Malle, Michael Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise

Director: Lana Wilson