The Best Documentaries To Watch Right Now

I love binge-watching TV shows as much as the next person, my roommate and I saw all of BBC’s “Sherlock” in three days! But these days no films or tv shows have been catching my attention, so I’ve turned to good, old documentaries.

I remember years ago when I saw “Blackfish” and it stayed with me for weeks, knowing these stories are real makes them more powerful. So here is a list of some of the best documentaries that you can check out during your next binge-watching session. All of these are available for streaming on Hulu.

1. “Love, Gilda”

Gilda Radner was a female comedian before it was cool to be a female comedian. She was one of the members of the original cast of Saturday Night Live; her infectious smile and witty charm gave her a charismatic onscreen persona. The film gives us glimpses of Radner’s loving childhood, meteoric rise to fame and heartbreaking battle with cancer while keeping us laughing with her indomitable sense of humor. Sprinkled with interviews by current comedy heavyweights, the documentary shows just how instrumental Radner was in opening the doors for women in comedy.

2. “The Gospel According to André”

You’ve probably seen André Leon Talley spout things like “dreckitude” on “America’s Next Top Model”. But what many people don’t know is that he was one of the pioneering editors of the American Vogue, at one point heading their Paris bureau. The film explores his childhood in the segregated south, him coming of age while using style as a tool to express his identity, and soon finding his footing in the big, bad, glamorous world of fashion. The movie also focuses on how racial bias affected Leon Talley, and how in spite of it, he became an icon in the closed circles of fashion.

3. “Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat”

If I had to make a list of my favorite artists of all time, Jean-Michel Basquiat would be in the top three. During his youth, he drew graffiti on the shabby walls of poverty-stricken neighborhoods in New York and spray-painted coats he found in the dumpsters. Today, one of his paintings is the priciest American artworks ever sold. But there is a lot of heartbreak behind the myth of Basquiat - he grew up in a drug-addled neighborhood, was homeless for most of his life, was shunned for a long time by the elite art community and then passed away at the young age of 27. The documentary looks at how he used his art as a way to deal with his harsh reality but also how he didn’t let his circumstances stop him. Maybe that’s why Basquiat - a young, black, artistically-inclined man living in a neighborhood riddled with crime - is a voice that even our generation resonates with.

4. “Kusama: Infinity”

That list of my favorite artists I just mentioned? Another name in the top three would be Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. This documentary follows her from her conservative upbringing in Japan to the scandalous art world of New York. Making it as an artist is difficult, but it’s more challenging when you’re a woman and a woman of color. The film takes us behind the scenes of the struggles Kusama had to experience as she tried to make a name for herself (several art trends were started by her but then stolen by more established, male artists so she was never credited for them) and how art has the power to heal.

5. “RBG”

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg doesn’t need an introduction. The place she occupies in pop culture and America’s psyche is shared by few other women leaders. The documentary follows her as she makes her way from law school to become one of the pioneering attorneys for cases concerning sex-based discrimination. The film shows us her being powerful and dominant in court, but also being a sensitive wife and a hardworking mother. Also, she has special outfits that she wears when she’s going to “dissent” to a court ruling. Can she get any cuter?

6. “Free Solo”

If you think rock climbing is physically challenging, there’s ‘free soloing’ which involves rock climbing - but without any safety equipment. That’s right, this documentary follows professional free solo-er Alex Honnold as he tries to climb El Capitan - a vertical rock formation in the Yosemite National Park - without any ropes. The documentary goes deep into his childhood filled with a lack of affection and his now rocky relationship with his girlfriend, mainly because he is constantly on the verge of killing himself. It’s heartbreaking to see Honnold become obsessed with something so dangerous, but by the end, you’ll also end up rooting for him. This National Geographic documentary also gets brownie points for breathtaking cinematography.