Cinema can be a wondrous thing that gives us insight into the world and our souls but nowhere is cinema as powerful and heart-wrenching as in the world of documentaries. While movies are frequently based on reality or even dramatized versions of reality they are often just that: dramatizations whereas documentaries, even if they manipulate the source material to some extent are made out of scraps of reality. Here are five of the best documentaries of the last decade, available for the most part on-demand for free as part of Comcast internet deals and similar offers from major providers.
5. Fahrenheit 9/11
Michael Moore sometimes veers from the realm of documentary into that of propaganda film but there is no denying that Fahrenheit 9/11 is one of the most powerful movies of the past decade. Released in an election year it didn’t manage to achieve anything politically but it made a lot of people take a good look at themselves and their government. Quite a few people, actually as the movie still is the top-grossing documentary feature of all time.
4. Some Kind of Monster
In the early 2000s, Metallica was no longer the trash metal giant that it had once been. In fact it was on the edge of break-up, with longtime bassist Newsted departing and Hetfield entering rehab. Some Kind of Monster is an honest and disturbing look at how one of the greatest bands in the world managed to survive one of the most turbulent periods in its history.
3. An Inconvenient Truth
Al Gore managed to do with one movie what a generation of scientists had not been able to do before. He presented a concise and well-constructed argumentation drawing attention on the issue of Global Warming, something that might still be contested today but at least it is acknowledged as a topic of discussion.
2. Man on Wire
This 2008 masterpiece of documentary filmmaking presents the story of Philippe Petit, the tightrope walker who crossed the distance between the twin towers on nothing but a thin wire cable. He spent more than an hour on that cable and his story and the footage of his performance carefully applied a soothing balm on the still aching heart of a grieving city.
1. Grizzly man
Werner Herzog’s equally sad and sedate documentary was made with actual found footage recovered after the tragic death of the protagonist, Timothy Treadwell, a bear enthusiast killed by a bear in 2003. Herzog collates interviews with family members with excerpts from over 100 hours of footage shot by Treadwell himself. The film also offers counterpoints to Treadwell’s actions through interviews with bear experts and Rangers and by Herzog’s narration itself. Grizzly Man is a tale of obsession and its consequences and one of the best documentary films ever created.