Best Documentaries on Netflix According to IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes

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We’re back with another cross-referenced list of the top movies on Netflix. This time, we’re tackling documentaries. We found the highest-rated documentaries on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, and compiled this list of the ones available to watch in the US.

Now… obviously we’re not going to claim these are the ‘best’ documentaries on Netflix. Some of our favorites, and certainly most of the viral hits, aren’t anywhere near this list.But, if you want to watch a documentary that’s highly-rated by audiences and critics alike, we’re sure you’ll find something to watch on this list.

If you’re looking for some of the newer documentaries added to Netflix, check out our August 2020 docs roundup here.

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I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

IMDb: 7.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 99%

This one arrived on Netflix just last month. It’s based on activist James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript: Remember This House. The half-completed memoir recounts the lives of Baldwin’s close acquaintances: Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers.

I Am Not Your Negro is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.

Blackfish (2013)

IMDb: 8.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

A must-watch for anyone with an interest in animal rights. Blackfish explores the heart-breaking story of Tilikum: a captive orca at SeaWorld that is implicated in the deaths of three people.

Shirkers (2018) N

IMDb: 7.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

In 1992, 19-year-old filmmaker, Sandi Tan, and her friends shoot an indie movie called Shirkers around Singapore. The group leave the footage with their mentor, Georges Cardona, to be edited when they leave for college. Shortly after, however, Cardona disappears along with their footage.

The Square (2013) N

IMDb: 8.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

A great documentary for anyone interested in (or wanting to brush up on) recent political history. The Square is an Egyptian-American movie that covers the Epygptian Crises up until 2013.

Winner of three Emmys, as well as a Sundance award and an accolade from the International Documentary Association.

13th (2016) N

IMDb: 8.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

This hard-hitting documentary is essential viewing, especially in the light of 2020’s Black Lives Matter movement.

The movie takes its name from the 13th amendment to the US constitution: an amendment that abolished slavery and forced labor, except as a punishment for a crime. As 13th demonstrates, slavery is very much alive and well within the US incarceration system.

American Factory (2019) N

IMDb: 7.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

This fly-on-the-wall documentary follows staff and managers at a Chinese-owned factory based in Dayton, Ohio. American Factory is the first film produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground Productions.

HOMECOMING: A film by Beyoncé (2019) N

IMDb: 7.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

This concert-documentary takes an intimate look at Beyonce’s journey to her 2018 Coachella Festival performance. Written, produced, directed by, and starring Beyoncé. Oh, and she did the music (obviously).

Pick of the Litter (2018)

IMDb: 7.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

Do you like puppies?

Trick question: everyone likes puppies. And this documentary features a whole litter of them!

Follow a group of five gorgeous puppies on their two-year journey to become guide dogs for the blind. Adorable and heart-warming.

Undefeated (2011)

IMDb: 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

After struggling for years, the Manassas Tigers of Memphis are finally ready to win. After enlisting the help of a professional coach, this high school football team starts to turn things around.

Are you surprised by the highest-rated documentaries on Netflix? Is your favorite featured? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by

Melissa is a freelance writer from Norwich. She has over seven years' experience running company blogs, social media, and PR campaigns. She has a degree in English Literature from the University of East Anglia, and studied journalism with the NCTJ. In her free time, Melissa runs her own book club and tells people she's writing a novel. Usually, she's just watching period dramas on Netflix.