We love our documentaries here at Average Joes and Netflix has delivered some modern classics in recent years. But with so many on offer it can be hard to keep up, so we’ve put together a list of what we think are the best documentaries on UK Netflix, and we’ve tried to keep things as recent as possible. Enjoy.
Our Planet (2019)
Assuming you’re not bored by the beauty of the natural world, Netflix’s Our Planet is arguably its best addition to the streaming platform in 2019. Presented by Sir David Attenborough, this nature documentary series unsurprisingly features staggering footage of animals, plants and biomes but has a strong eco-minded approach. The whole purpose of Our Planet is to raise awareness of the fragility of the planet’s ecosystem and the effect human activity has had and is having on it. As frightening as it is beautiful.
Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (2019)
If you’re not familiar with the Fyre Festival story; a quick recap. A luxury private island festival in the Bahamas was advertised by some of social media’s biggest names, including Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski. But festival founders rapper Ja Rule and tech entrepreneur Billy McFarland soon came under fire for failing to deliver the experience promised, with guests left stranded without water, bedding or food. Chris Smith’s excellent Fyre documentary takes you through the excruciating build up to the event as told by Fyre Festival employees, while looking at the reasons why it was even possible to sell such an expensive lie to so many people. If you’re looking to laugh at rich people, then… it’s perfect. But by the end your heart can’t help but go out to the people of Great Exuma.
Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (2019)
If, like us, you knew the name but didn’t know the story, Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes is a real eye-opener. This 4-part documentary comes from Joe Berlinger, who also directed the feature film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile starring Zac Efron. The doc tracks Bundy’s murders, escapes and trials, and tries to understand their near cult-like status Bundy has today through archival footage and interviews with journalists, FBI Agents and legal teams, as well as in depth interviews with Bundy himself.
The Staircase (2018)
In 2001, Michael Peterson claimed his wife had died after falling down stairs. However, the medical examiner was not convinced. The Staircase follows the investigation, beginning in 2005 through to 2018, with trial footage and behind-the-scenes footage of Peterson. You may have already seen half of the series as it was originally broadcast on the BBC back in 2004 as Death on a Staircase, but Netflix picked up the original series and added to it with 5 new episodes of the shocking true story. When you’ve finished watching it, read up on ‘The Owl Theory’…
Sunderland ‘Til I Die (2018)
While Amazon may have had access to Manchester City during the club’s record-breaking, Premier League-winning season for the immaculate and ever-so-slightly self-promoting All or Nothing series, Netflix’s warts-and-all look at a struggling club in a deprived town was far more engrossing. Sunderland ‘Til I Die follows newly relegated Sunderland AFC during their disastrous 2017/2018 season in the Championship with access-all-areas footage of the club’s players and staff, as well as honest and heartfelt interviews with its supporters. If you’ve never understood how and why football means so much to so many, this documentary is as good a place as any to start.
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)
Almost two decades after Jim Carrey starred in Milos Forman’s biopic of larger-than-life comic Andy Kaufman, Man On The Moon, a behind-the-scenes documentary of the making of the film dropped on Netflix. During filming, Carrey inhabited his character completely, both on- and off-set. Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond shows the process in all its unhinged and often uncomfortable glory. Edited from set footage that wasn’t released at the time and a recent interview with Carrey, Chris Smith’s film is an unmissable look into the psyche of one of the greatest movie stars of his generation.
Wild Wild Country (2018)
If you’ve got any remote interest in cults, utopian dreams, political struggles or charismatic leaders, then Wild Wild Country will be right up your street. The slick six-part series tells the story of Indian religious leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who brought his red-robed followers to a small town in rural Oregon and took over, building a self-sustaining city based on ‘love and sharing’. Naturally, the conservative local community weren’t too thrilled. Through talking heads interviews and hours of archive footage, Wild Wild Country is story that needs to be seen to be believed.
Get me Roger Stone (2017)
Trump’s unimaginable rise to prominence is still playing out before our very eyes and you get the feeling the story isn’t anywhere near ending. But if you want to understand how it happened, Get Me Roger Stone is an essential watch. The man in question was a Republican political strategist and lobbyist who has his fingerprints on some of American’s most infamous administrations. The documentary portrays Stone as the man heavily responsible for creating Trump as a political figure in a story that’s both thrilling and troubling. While watching, you should also probably bear in mind that Roger Stone has since been indictment with witness tampering, obstructing an official proceeding, and five counts of making false statements as part of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation into Trump and Russian ties. He pled guilty and is now pending prosecution…
Evil Genius (2018)
Back in August 2003, a pizza delivery man robbed a bank in Pennsylvania with a bomb strapped to his neck. The story of the ‘pizza bomber heist’ is truly stranger than fiction, with Evil Genius recounting this tale of greed, madness, and ultimately, murder. Directors Barbara Schroeder and Trey Borzillieri leave the audience to decide exactly what really happened that day. But what is certain is that this is one of the weirdest and most shocking heist cases ever.
For many, the grandiose and hyperbolic depictions of sport in film can usually leave you feeling underwhelmed. Which is why we’d rather watch a sport documentary. Here’s our ten favourites.