My Favorite Documentaries on Netflix Right Now

I’m not the kind of person to binge watch TV shows, especially if they have multiple seasons. Binge watching entails a sort of time commitment that I am rarely willing to make. And normally when I attempt to binge watch, I find myself getting bored of the characters or the stories after a few viewing sessions. I wholeheartedly respect those people who are able to tackle every season of Grey’s Anatomy in just a few months, but that is just something that I am unable to do.

That being said, I would be lying if I said that I am not a frequent Netflix user. Most of my Netflix viewing, however, is of documentaries.

I love documentaries because they allow me to explore a world that is completely foreign to me. I can watch a documentary about a topic that I have no knowledge of and can still be engrossed in the film. The filmmaker’s entire purpose is to arrive at the truth, no matter how difficult that is. This promise of truth is probably what keeps me so hooked to these movies. If you are unfamiliar with the genre or a documentary lover like me who is always looking for more recommendations, here is a list of some of my favorites that you can currently watch on Netflix.


1. Trojan War

This film is part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series of documentaries. Even if you have absolutely no interest in sports, I recommend watching a 30 for 30 film; they are what initially got me hooked on documentaries. There are dozens of 30 for 30 films on Netflix right now and they are all fantastic, but I chose this particular one because I distinctly remember hearing about this scandal in the news, whereas many other 30 for 30s chronicle events that occurred before I was born. This film highlights the rise and fall of the football program at the University of Southern California in the mid-2000s. In 2005, running back Reggie Bush won USC its third Heisman Trophy in four years, and the team was known to be the greatest in college football. Later, however, reports were made that Bush received hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts, violating strict NCAA policies regarding student-athlete status of college players. In consequence, the USC football program was put on severe probation; it was forced to lose many scholarships, vacate its wins from the 2005 season, and dissociate itself from Bush. This film forces the viewer to think about the “celebrity status” of many college athletes when their status as a student should always come first.


2. Second Chance Dogs

Anybody who knows me knows that I am a dog lover. So of course this documentary had to make it on my list. This film follows the story of a special animal facility that endeavors to find loving homes for dogs that have previously been abused. The anxiety and fear from a lifetime of abuse makes dogs like these difficult to adopt, so the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center works hard to help these dogs adjust to healthy relationships with people and with other dogs. Of course, it’s difficult to hear about intrinsically loving creatures going through such hardships, but the film ends on a beautifully uplifting note that reminds me of the goodness of human beings.


3. First Position

I know next to nothing about dance. This documentary, however, following the lives of six young ballet dancers as they prepare for the Youth American Grand Prix competition, helped me appreciate the world of dance. These kids have sacrificed so much and worked so hard to achieve their dream. Their achievements at such a young age are awe-inspiring, and it is incredible to watch them dance on stage.


4. Floyd Norman: An Animated Life

This is the only film on this list that I have not seen. Then why even include it at all? Well, this documentary chronicles the life of Disney’s first black animator, Floyd Norman. He has worked on films ranging from Sleeping Beauty to Toy Story. Not only does is this film said to shed light on the racial prejudices of the early 20th century, but it is also said to teach its viewers about the beautiful craft of animation only achieved by the Disney company. I love Disney films and animation history, so the only reason I have been unable to see this film so far is because it was only released on Netflix about a week ago.


I honestly don’t think I would have ever seen as many documentaries as I do if it weren’t for Netflix. People don’t really go to the movie theater to watch a documentary film or specifically seek them out on broadcast television channels. This list only scratches the surface of the wide variety of documentaries available on Netflix right now. And every month, new films are added to stream. I encourage you to watch a documentary if you have never watched one. They focus on a wide variety of topics, from sports and music to true crime and cultural history, and I promise that you will learn something and be entertained throughout.


Image Credit: Netflix, Indie Wire