We’re now in that post-Halloween, pre-holidays slump, so if you’re anything like me, you’re looking for a Netflix binge to wash away that pre-winter boredom. Here are a couple documentary recommendations for you to binge before the holidays! 

 

True Crime 

 

Forensic Files (1996-) 

Anyone who talks down on Forensic Files needs to re-evaluate those opinions, because there’s very little more entertaining and more plentiful than Forensic Files. The entire collection is on Netflix and even though more than half of it is pretty dated, it’s good, solid, short-form true crime. Bonus: if you even make it halfway through this collection, you’ll probably get pretty good at guessing who the suspect is! 

 

Buzzfeed: Unsolved: True Crime 

This one’s all up on Youtube, and while the “Buzzfeed” might make you a little skeptical, Unsolved is truly a gift from Youtube at its finest. Watching Shane Madej and Ryan Bergara discuss the JFK assassination, or the “Terrifying axeman” of New Orleans , is both informational and entertaining. And if true crime freaks you out, there’s no need to be nervous. Each case is unsolved, so you’ll always know how it ends!  

 

Dear Zachary (2008) 

This harrowing yet beautiful documentary is both crushing and reaffirming. This documentarian’s best friend is murdered, and so he goes to the ends of the world to hear from those who loved him in order to create a piece of work for his son to view. This documentary takes shocking turns and it is absolutely recommended that you do not read up on it beforehand. Also, if you find tears embarrassing, maybe watch alone. 

 

Interest 

 

My Scientology Movie (2015) 

Louis Theroux, BBC’s awkward and confrontational documentarian, attempts to find his way into one of the world’s most secretive and confidential organizations/religions. What follows is a clever mishmash of activities and loopholes, as well as a genuinely thrilling look at the response and mysterious repercussions of his actions. 

 

Best Of Enemies (2015) 

“Best Of Enemies” is perhaps the best documentary on this list. This historical documentary focuses on the rivalry between William F. Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal in 1968 and onward. This documentary is interesting and important, as well as visually appealing and easy to understand. It focuses primarily on the events leading up to and the aftermath of their infamous political debates during the 1968 American election. A must-watch for any Gore Vidal fan. 

 

The Celluloid Closet (1995) 

This historical documentary discusses LGBTQ people in film back to the beginning of cinema. Big names such as Susan Sarandon, Harvey Fierstein and Tom Hanks, and is narrated by “Grace and Frankie” star Lily Tomlin. While slightly dated now, many issues in the film are still prevalent today, and are both interesting and important to learn about.  

 

Nature 

 

Planet Earth I & II (2006 and 2016)  

BBC 

It’s likely everyone has already seen Planet Earth I, but Planet Earth II is also out on Netflix now, with more stunning shots than ever, so it is worth a re-watch. There’s not much that’s more relaxing than sitting up on the couch late at night with a snack and a friend to watch hummingbirds fly in slow motion, or watch field mice evade predators in tall grass. 

 

Virunga (2014) 

This documentary follows the conservation efforts in the Congo’s Virunga National Park. The work follows the work to protect the world’s last mountain gorillas from poaching, oil exploitation in the area, and war. This documentary is a tear-jerker, but is also incredibly important and investigative. This is a great watch for anyone interested in animals, environmental conservation, politics or journalism. 

 

Frozen Planet (2011) 

“Frozen Planet” covers the two poles through their seasons, and the struggles the animals and environment face in their tough conditions. The two polar regions differ greatly, and this documentary highlights those interesting differences. From an environmentalist standpoint, this film highlights many environmental issues faced on earth. The vast tundra of the north in summer is a sight to behold, even on screen! 

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