Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top 10 Documentaries of 2015

In no particular order...

An Honest Liar

James Randi is a renowned magician and escape artist, and he's dedicated to debunking hoaxes, psychics, faith healing, conspiracy theories, telekinesis, and con artists. He uses tools of deception to uncover real deceptionbecause he's against frauds who dupe people for money. But it also turns out that he's been hiding his own secret from the public for almost his entire life.

The Nightmare

From the makers of Room 237, this horror documentary revolves around the creepy phenomenon of sleep paralysis. Whether it involves shadow figures, "old hags", or incubuses/succubuses, this doc listens to the accounts of many different people (enhanced with reenactments). Fittingly, the film provides no new answers and just propels the mystery even more. The mystical subject matter is both enthralling and terrifying, especially if you've experienced any of it yourself.

Cobain: Montage of Heck

Stocked with loads of never-before-seen footage, photos, audio clips, and notebooks provided from an entire garage of storage by the Cobain family, Montage of Heck presents a deeper and intimate look into Kurt Cobain's life from childhood to death. It's an artfully crafted, engrossing, and bleak visual biography of Nirvina's iconic rock musician and complicated persona.


If you're reading this, you probably remember the tragic drug-addled (and highly publicized) down-spiral of neo-soul artist and distinct voice, Amy Winehouse. This extensive documentary sheds light on the talented singer's personality, while showing the highs & lows of her short-lived career--from the promising early beginnings to rock bottom and then Back to Black.

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

This controversial doc is a disturbing look into the Church of Scientology, complete with interviews from ex-members who divulge secrets about the organization, whether it's certain horror stories, manipulation tactics and mind control, the dangers of leaving, and the insane amount of money the cult possesses. The highest-ranking members like Tom Cruise and John Travolta claim they've never had any problems with the Scientology, and that sounds about right.

The Search for General Tso

This upbeat doc is everything you need to know about the popular takeout dish General Tso's Chicken. What makes it interesting is the examination of its origins (which might surprise people), the controversy surrounding the spelling and meaning of the word, and how the food's accessibility and multidimensional flavoring has united millions. Do not watch on an empty stomach.

Cartel Land

A non-fiction companion piece to this year's thriller Sicario, the film profiles two vigilante groups (one from each side of the Mexican border) who work to fight against the murderous drug-dealing cartels. It's an immersive experience, taking us right into the ruthless action. Kathryn Bigelow serves as executive producer in this eye-opening view of never-ending crime, disorder, and injustice.

Listen to Me Marlon

The legendary actor doesn't need an introduction, but maybe his off-screen antics and soured relationship with the public do. Hailed as the most definitive piece on Marlon Brando, this poetic doc presents an archive of deeply personal and confessional audio that Brando recorded himself throughout his acting career, so it's as if he's narrating his own posthumous autobiography.

Finders Keepers

Sometimes the strangest docs are the best, and this is one of them. Finders Keepers is the story of John Wood, who kept his amputated leg as a mummified souvenir, only to lose it again. Across the state of North Carolina, a man bought a smoker grill at an auction, which happened to contain the leg, and he refused to give it back. The whole thing is even funnier and twist-ier than you can imagine.

The Wolfpack

A group of brothers grew up isolated from society and were holed up in a small apartment. Their only interactions with the outside world were through films--mostly classics and genre staples: The Godfather, Citizen Kane, Shawshank etc... If that premise isn't interesting and perplexing enough, just wait until you see them journey outside during this home movie-like story of real-life stoop kids.

1 comment:

  1. Was a strong year for documentaries! Of those, I've seen five: Going Clear, Cobain, Amy, Listen to me Marlon, and Wolfpack.
    Amy was my favorite. Asif Kapadia is so good at making a subject I knew little about emotionally involving(I also loved 2010's Senna with no prior knowledge of Formula 1)