52 Best Documentary Movies On Tubi (Page 3)

Staff & contributors

They say art imitates life, but nothing gets to the heart of humanity like documentary filmmaking. Whether you want to flex your history knowledge or binge a true crime, here are the best documentaries and docuseries available to stream now.

In Waltz with Bashir, director Ari Folman grapples with the trauma and dehumanization of war by examining the role he played in the 1982 Invasion of Lebanon. But his memories are fractured, so in an attempt to piece them back together, he visits his comrades and has them recall the events for him. The result is both poignant and painful, a horrific tell-all of what happens on both sides of the battleground. The film is a documentary, chillingly honest and straightforward, but it's also an animation gem that continues the legacy that Persepolis started and Flee continues. By combining the harshness of war with the lightness of animation, all three films effectively deliver their anti-war message with a much-needed human and personal touch. 

Genre: Animation, Documentary, Drama, War

Actor: Ari Folman, Mickey Leon, Ori Sivan, Yehezkel Lazarov

Director: Ari Folman

Rating: R

This earnest documentary is about filmmaker and actress Maryam Zaree's journey to unravel the truth about her birth. Her parents are part of a generation of Iranian revolutionaries who were jailed, many executed, and now have taken exile in Europe. The torture and difficult prison conditions they experienced are cause for so much trauma that Maryam, born in prison, has not been told anything about her birth. Her mom, now Germany's first foreign-born mayor, cannot get past tears to tell a story that Maryam is determined to know. 

Her mom is not the only one who is unable to tell the story, as Maryam's quest uncovers more silence. In the end, Born in Evin is as much about the question of "is the truth worth getting told?" as it is about the truth itself. It's a heartfelt exploration of trauma, both for the generation that experienced it and for the generation that follows.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Marya Sirous, Maryam Zaree, Soraya Zangbari

Director: Maryam Zaree

Rating: Not Rated

A quiet documentary that was released to celebrate the British Royal Air Force's centenary, Spitfire tells the story of the famous plane that younger audiences might only recognize from movies like Dunkirk or Darkest Hour. It features gorgeous footage of the last remaining planes in service flying over the British coast, testimonies from pilots who are still alive and a reminder of the key role that this plane once served. It feels like an attempt to capture and archive the importance of the plane, but also of its pilots, who for the most part were young kids with little training, but who, with time, learned valuable lessons from warfare. A must for aviation fans and a great option for anyone looking for a quiet movie to watch with their family (grandparents included). 

Genre: Documentary, History, War

Actor: Charles Dance

Director: Ant Palmer, David Fairhead

Rating: TV-PG

For those of us who don't lurk on internet message boards and participate in social media culture, a documentary about memes might seem frivolous. But Feels Good Man steers the conversation into one about semiotics: the way images become symbols and can continue transforming—from a harmless expression of the self, into a hateful banner for bigotry, into a cry of protest and freedom. As his Pepe the Frog creation takes on a life of its own, artist Matt Furie attempts to reclaim ownership of it and finds that the relationship between an artist and their own work can be as difficult as any toxic relationship. It's a bleak view of how unfeeling internet culture can be, but it reminds us that we always still have some power to beat the hate.

Genre: Comedy, Documentary

Actor: Adam Serwer, Alex Jones, Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Emily Heller, Hillary Clinton, Johnny Ryan, Joy Reid, Katy Perry, Lisa Hanawalt, Logan Paul, Matt Furie, Melania Trump, Mike Majlak, Nicki Minaj, Phil McGraw, Rachel Maddow, Richard Spencer, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert

Director: Arthur Jones

A truly timely and difficult documentary, Deliver Us From Evil follows an interviewed confession of a Catholic pedophile. In addition, the film shows his victims, their coping strategies and lives as well as the extreme lengths the Catholic Church went to to cover up and enable the systemic rape of children. While often times hard to watch, this film shines a light into the dark corners of human behavior, forgiveness, sin and faith in a way that is both confronting and relatable.

Genre: Crime, Documentary

Actor: Adam, Oliver O'Grady, Pope Benedict XVI, Thomas Doyle

Director: Amy J. Berg

Rating: Not Rated

Lauren Greenfield’s film follows the Siegel family’s decline from opulent abundance to gaudy ruin. Mega wealth, delusions of grandeur, and grotesquely opulent taste—the Siegel family were the perfect subjects for the film, which sets out to document their most lavish expense: their Versailles home, a mansion sprawling more than 85,000 square feet and modeled after the Palace of Versailles.

The Siegels, no doubt, are entirely out of touch with reality. David Siegel, the owner of one of the world’s largest timeshare developers, married Jackie, a former Mrs. Florida who is 30 years younger. The Versailles home is to be Jackie’s castle, an enormous home for her eight kids and numerous pets.

But the 2008 recession does not spare the Siegels, and their company is devastated. After layoffs and desperate attempts to recover financially, the family struggles to pay back the banks. Construction halts. The Versailles home remains vacant and unfinished.

While the film does not sympathize with the Siegels, Greenfield creates a space where pity is possible as well as criticism. And from there comes the universal: desperation, longing, hope for better, if not also more, more, more.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Director: Lauren Greenfield

Although limited by the timeframe in which it was released—that is, before its characters really got to finish organizing themselves in response to the film's subject matter—Aftershock still provides a detailed primer on the ways the American healthcare system has been manipulated to take advantage of the underprivileged. The documentary can get technical but since it grounds its reporting on two tragic stories of preventable loss, there's more than enough reason to pay full attention. It definitely isn't meant to answer every question about pregnancy care, but it definitely compels deeper inquiry into the ways we've been socialized into perceiving romantic notions about childbirth.

Genre: Documentary

Director: Paula Eiselt, Tonya Lewis Lee

A biopic is only as big as the personality at its center, and what a personality Pavarotti had. The Opera singer that crossed into the mainstream from his humble upbringings in Modena, Italy, exuded happiness and had a great outlook on life. And even as the attention he would eventually attract takes its tole, he's able to maintain his positivity and his dedication to his art. This documentary on his life and his work will be even more interesting to you if like me you didn't know who Pavarotti was, or the impact he's had.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Andrea Griminelli, Angela Gheorghiu, Bono, Harvey Goldsmith, José Carreras, Lang Lang, Luciano Pavarotti, Madelyn Renée Monti, Nicoletta Mantovani, Plácido Domingo, Vittorio Grigolo, Zubin Mehta

Director: Ron Howard

Rating: PG-13

This documentary is about the life of New York rapper Nas around the time of the release of his first album, Illmatic.

It spans a quick and summarized 74 minutes and, while embellished by the direction of street artist One9, it remains a great snippet of recent American history. Nas’s album was a reflection of many realities that characterized his upbringing, while the movie serves to further explore those very realities.

Genre: Documentary, Music

Actor: Alicia Keys, Busta Rhymes, Cornel West, DJ Premier, Fab 5 Freddy, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., M.C. Serch, Marley Marl, Mrs. Braconi, Nas, Pete Rock, Pharrell Williams, Q-Tip, Skip Gates, Jr., Swizz Beatz

Director: One9

Rating: TV-14

This Norwegian documentary in English is about Magnus Carlsen, the current world champion who became a chess grandmaster at age 13. It might be tough to believe but Magnus' ascension was slowed down significantly by many crises in self-confidence and difficulty to cope with the pressure at a young age. With home footage and interviews with everyone from his adversaries to the champion himself, Magnus the movie tries to be a complete portrait of the prodigy. Yet, crucial aspects are missing, such as an explanation for a sudden change in character, and perhaps more importantly, explanations of Magnus' genius in chess. His techniques and approaches are mostly attributed to intuition, but the movie fails to explain how that intuition is reflected in the game.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Garry Kasparov, Magnus Carlsen, Viswanathan Anand

Director: Benjamin Ree

From early footage of country-folk threshing their crops to blissed-out clubbers at a rave, there is a mesmerizing, insistent sense of rhythm and motion to Arcadia. Director Paul Wright has curated an astonishing array of archive material for this feature-length video montage examining the British and their sometimes uneasy relationship with the land.

Cut together in loosely chronological order, the footage is enigmatic, seductive, and disturbing, set to a haunting soundtrack from Adrian Utley of Portishead and Will Gregory of Goldfrapp. Watching Arcadia is hypnotic, like wading into the uncertain waters of time with a head full of shrooms. And that’s definitely a good thing.

Genre: Documentary

Director: Paul Wright

Richard Wershe, Jr. was arrested for carrying eight kilos of cocaine in 1988, when he was just 17. He went on to become one of Michigan’s longest-serving non-violent juvenile drug offenders, dubbed by the press as White Boy Rick. His fate was sealed by Michigan law that had just been passed, which stated that anyone found with more than 650 grams of drugs had to be sentenced to mandatory life. 

Featuring interviews with drug lords, journalists, as well as Rick’s mother and attorney, this documentary — along with the follow-up Hollywood biopic, White Boy Rick, starring Matthew McConaughey— provides an insightful account into his tragic story. 

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Chris Hansen, Richard Wershe Jr., Scott M. Burnstein, Shawn Rech

Director: Christopher S. Rech, Shawn Rech

Rating: N/A

At first glance, one may think that Welcome to Leith is a well thought-out fictional thriller of people’s most unwarranted night terrors. But if you squint real hard, you will come to realize that it portrays a scary reality in which violence, fear, and isolation is prevalent and that it could happen to possibly any town with little to no effort. Nichols and Walker aim to capture this frightening message in hopes of bringing awareness, using white supremacist Craig Cobb’s attempt at taking over the small North Dakotan town to display objectivity in an otherwise touchy subject.

Genre: Crime, Documentary, Thriller

Director: Christopher K. Walker, Michael Beach Nichols

Rating: Not Rated

How much do you know about what’s inside the skincare and cosmetic products you use? This is one of the main questions Toxic Beauty addresses. The award-winning documentary features a series of powerful and insightful voices, including Deane Berg, the woman who took the American multinational corporation Johnson & Johnson to court to claim its body powder was a factor in her contracting ovarian cancer. As the film progresses, it becomes more and more apparent that the beauty industry is as unhealthy as the products it creates and promotes.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Director: Phyllis Ellis

This Hits Home has an important mission: make the connection between traumatic brain injury and domestic abuse victims more well-known to the public. Every day, wives, girlfriends, and children get their skulls knocked, slammed, and smashed by their abusers, their heads targeted because the injuries are easier to hide and the symptoms of trauma don’t manifest until much later. But despite this prevalent violence, concussions and brain disorders are less associated with domestic abuse than they are in contact sports like wrestling and football. This Hits Home gathers experts and victims alike to change that conversation. It’s a noble effort, but it’s unfortunately masked by weird editing choices that ultimately weaken a strong premise. The film interviews multiple experts in the same field, so it often feels like it’s going in circles instead of propelling forward with new points. In an effort to be comprehensive, it includes commentaries from incidental subjects, which creates a lull that detracts from the main focus. And maybe the biggest fault here is that it relies too much on the survivors’ (admittedly powerful) anecdotes, so much so that it fails to bring any of its own flourishes to the documentary. I appreciate the filmmakers opting to be more straightforward than sensationalist, especially with such a sensitive topic. Still, without its own clear voice and cinematic style, it fails to set itself apart from the many informational videos that are already out there. 

Genre: Documentary

Director: Sydney Scotia