I challenged myself to watch 52 documentaries in 2014 because I was tired of all the mind-numbingly boring thoughts swimming around in my head and wanted new things to think and talk about. It’s really fun- I’m learning a lot of crazy shit that I never knew existed in the world. Today I’m sharing the first 12 documentaries I watched, in order from favorite to least favorite. Please note: I’m linking all the titles to Amazon so you can read their descriptions, but most are available for free on Netflix.
Four aspiring wine experts study for the big exam to become “Master Sommeliers”- a prestigious title that has only ever been held by about two hundred people. They have to know a CRAZY amount of stuff about wine to pass the test. For example, they have to be able to sniff a glass of wine and tell you exactly where and when the grapes are from. I don’t even like wine but I found the whole process intriguing and got really emotionally invested in the outcome.
Trust me, I’m as shocked as anyone that I loved a documentary about Mitt Romney. BUT. This was really fascinating and made me think about the psychology of politics and elections in a way I never had before. It is made up of behind-the-scenes campaign footage filmed by a family friend such as the moment Mitt found out he lost the election, and some rare candid moments where you hear his family talk about how they actually feel about campaigning and the prospect of him becoming president. His wife was shockingly honest. I think I also liked this because it reminded me of my childhood. My dad used to work for politicians so I was always finding myself at behind-the-scenes political events, and I hadn’t thought of those memories in years.
A woman discovers a family secret and interviews family members and others about it to get at the truth. Enthralling.
A Complete History of my Sexual Failures
I’m almost afraid to recommend this because it’s possible it’s just my own weird humor, but I really really liked this and found it to be hilarious and also surprisingly poignant at the end. Dude interviews all his past girlfriends to find out why they dumped him (If you watch for like eight minutes, its pretty obvious why they dumped him.) He starts with some girl who he dated for a day in fourth grade and finally makes his way to the ex-fiancee who he wants to win back. Be forewarned that there is a random scene in the middle where a dominatrix ties him up and whips his balls.
Loved this! Guy sets out for 30 days without any food, money, or phone numbers of anyone he knows to see if he can live entirely off of things he finds on Craigslist. Yeah I was amazed at how much he found on Craigslist, but mostly the take-away of this for me had more to do with the kindness of strangers. So many people took him in and helped him along the way. I feel like our instinct is so often to not trust people we don’t know, and this project really challenged that. This even temporarily inspired me to list my place on Couchsurfing.org- though to be honest, I never followed through.
Documentary about online relationships. Most fascinating part was learning about Second Life, which inspired me to track down a documentary purely about Second Life itself, which I will be reviewing next time.
Documentary exploring the history of women’s relationship with shoes, high heels in particular. Love.
Examination of the small portion of the population (about 1%) that identifies as asexual, meaning they do not feel sexual attraction to anybody. I’m really glad I watched this because this is a phenomenon I did not know much about. Awareness is only recently growing as asexuals are now able to find each other on the internet and form communities for support.
This documentary analyzes the types of character archetypes we typically see on TV shows. It’s a four-part series. I watched the first two: “Independent Woman” and “Man of the House.” (Other two are “The Misfit” and “The Crusader.”) I had never really considered how similar so many TV characters are, and it was interesting to think about how they have evolved with our culture.
Kind of boring, though to be fair I watched this when I was very ill. All I remember is that sumo wrestling is rigged.
Eh. I know this got really good reviews, but I was bored.
Thought Doug and I would like this since we love Yellowstone, but nope! Bored, bored, bored. Watched about 70% and then left to do something more interesting, like clean the toilet.
How about you guys? Have you watched any of these? Do you have any documentary recommendations for me? I’d love to hear- please comment!
I’m going to have to check out some of those. I thought Miss Representation was pretty good. I also liked A Place At The Table. Tales From The Script was pretty interesting if you like the behind the scenes take on screenplays.
Thanks for the recs! I have added these to my list.
I haven’t seen any of these but now I plan to! I have loved previous work by Sara Polley, and A Complete History… sounds interesting. I’m curious about America in Primetime as well. Awesome challenge you gave yourself.
Thanks! Let me know your thoughts if you end up watching any of them.
Alright, time for some Netflix documentary watching. Love this challenge, Julia!
Thanks! Have fun watching!
This is a really awesome idea! Make sure you have “Man on Wire” on your list. Highly rated on Rotten Tomatoes!
Yessss, everyone has been telling me about that one lately. It’s definitely on my list. Might even be the next one. Thanks for reading!
What a fabulous idea- I’m going to have to put some of these on my never- ending list of stuff to watch. The last one I watched was Food, Inc. — it was good though since I am seriously behind the rest of the world in TV watching (by choice), you’ve probably already seen it!
I have not seen it, but I will definitely look into it. (I’m really behind the rest of the world in TV too- documentaries are literally all I watch these days). Thanks for the recommendation!
I love documentaries! One of my personal favorites is Exit Through the Gift Shop (a bit more of a mockumentary, but I think it still counts).
A lot of people have been recommending this one! So I will definitely be watching it sometime soon. Thanks!