Completely Engrossing Tales from the Best Documentaries of 2020

Completely Engrossing Tales from the Best Documentaries of 2020

From Tiger King to The Last Dance, 2020 just might outdo last year's incredible true stories.

The year isn't anywhere near over, but so far the single biggest cultural sensation it has produced is Netflix's bonkers portrait of big cat lovers, Tiger King. Just a few years ago, it would have been hard to imagine that a docuseries would be the TV show that had everyone talking. But these days, documentaries are booming, and tons of quality docs are being produced. So if you're a documentary lover here are some of the best documentaries that 2020 has served up so far.
 

The Last Dance (NETFLIX)

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You’d be hard-pressed to come up with a sports documentary that’s ever been more hyped than The Last Dance. Netflix and ESPN teamed up for a 10-part series that might end up being the last word on the Jordan-Bulls dynasty, featuring interviews with Barack Obama, Michael Jordan, and Steve Kerr, and never-before-seen footage from Chicago’s defining championship 1997-98 season. Yeah. Sign us up.

Beastie Boys Story (Apple Tv Plus)
 
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Last year, surviving Beastie Boys Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond staged a live performance event documenting their three decades as a band. The whole thing was directed by Spike Jonze, and the filmed version of their stage show premiered as an Apple TV documentary this April. In the show, the musicians tell their own story and share remembrances of their late friend and bandmate Adam Yauch.

Visible: Out On Television (Apple Tv Plus)

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"Something about being on television makes people see you as part of our culture," Rachel Maddow says in this five-episode Apple TV documentary series. Visible examines just how LGBT people have been portrayed on television over the decades, from early portrayals on shows like All in the Family, to ground-breaking series like The L Word, to news coverage of the HIV crisis.

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (Netflix)
  
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Crip Camp, the latest documentary produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, has received near-universal praise from critics and viewers. The documentary tells the story of Camp Jened, a summer camp for youths with disabilities that became a hotbed of 1970s activism and helped kickstart the disability rights movement. The film makes extensive use of archival footage, and is co-directed and narrated by James Lebrecht, who’s himself a former camper.

Tiger King (Netflix)

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Even amidst the documentary boom, few projects make as big a splash as this Netflix series. It takes a look at the previously little-examined community of American big cat enthusiasts, a group of sanctuary owners, collectors, and roadside zoo owners, and recounts a rivalry between tiger breeder Joe Exotic and sanctuary owner Carole Baskin that escalates to attempted murder. Its tagline promises “murder, madness, and mayhem,” and this series definitely delivers.

 

Miss Americana (Netflix)
  
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Taylor Swift is one of the 21st century’s best selling and most talked-about artists, a figure who has tightly controlled her public image since she was a teenager. That makes Netflix’s documentary about the star all the more revealing. In the film, Swift opens up about her songwriting process, battling an eating disorder, and her decision to go public with her politics.

The Pharmacist (Netflix)

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In The Pharmacist, we saw a crusade—that of pharmacist Dan Schneider, who loses his son in a drug-related shooting in New Orleans. When he notices young, healthy people visiting his pharmacy to pick up Oxycontin prescriptions, he realizes there's a major problem—which leads him to a fight against Big Pharma.

Babies (Netflix)

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Babies may not be able to do much, but it’s really pretty impressive that they can do anything at all. They’re born wrinkly little potatoes who spend the majority of their time sleeping, and then in around 12 months they’re beginning to walk and talk. If you’ve ever wondered how the little guys pull that off, check out this Netflix series, which follows 15 infants while including extensive interviews with researchers who’ve shed light on their development.

Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez (Netflix)

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The murder conviction and subsequent suicide of the New England Patriots’ star tight end Aaron Hernandez was one of the biggest news stories of the 2010s. Early this year, Netflix released a three-part docuseries examining the football player’s life and crimes, from his childhood in a household marred by abuse, alleged involvement in multiple murders, to his postmortem CTE diagnosis.

Cheer (Netflix)

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Netflix kick-started its 2020 documentary slate with one of the first hits of the year. This series followed the Navarro College Cheer Team, one of the best in the country, as they headed to nationals. Along the way, viewers fell in love with team members like Jerry Harris and La'Darius Marshall.

 

 


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