Top 8 Must-Watch Documentaries

By Julia Matuszek, Video Editor

With spring break right around the corner, everybody is looking forward to a couple of days full of relaxation. And although we won’t have school, you can still learn something new by watching one of the eight documentaries mentioned below. If you are going to be binge-watching Netflix all week, might as well make it as productive as possible.

1.) Free Solo (2018) Rated: PG-13

This year’s Oscar winner for Best Documentary – Feature focuses on Alex Honnold, a professional rock climber, who makes it his goal to free solo climb (as in with no assistance at all from any tools) the El Capitan, which is in Yosemite National Park. El Capitan is a vertical rock formation, making the climb that much trickier and riskier. This movie explains all the technicalities that go into a climb like this as well as the effects this dream has on not only Honnold but his family and friends, too. The documentary is not only inspiring but also terrifying, but in the best way possible.

2.) Super-Size Me (2004) Rated: PG-13

Documentarian Morgan Spurlock takes on the challenge to eat McDonald’s for every meal of his day for one full month to see the effects it will have on his health. Prior to starting, Spurlock goes to see a doctor and it is shown that his health is way above average and despite the doctor saying this diet will affect his body negatively, he is not expecting massive, drastic changes. Spurlock starts the challenge, but he has some rules from himself. He can’t have outside food, he must try everything on the menu at least once, and if asked if he wants the meal super-sized he must say yes but only when asked he can not super-size the meal himself. As you can guess, after the month was over Spurlock’s health was so bad his doctor said even if he did lose all the weight he gained he would still be at a risk for a heart attack. This movie shows the negative effects fast food has on not only our physical and mental health but also the way it hurts lower-class families that can only afford food from places like McDonald’s.

3.) RBG (2018) Rated: PG

We all know and love her; Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, commonly known as RBG. Ginsburg has had a long, lucrative, and productive career, specifically regarding gender rights. This movie shines a light on Ginsburg and shows her being one of the first people behind gender equality and pushing for it still to this day. Despite Ginsburg doing so much good in this world, some still see her as cold and always uptight. Well, this movie proves them wrong. Throughout the movie, we are able to see Ginsburg working out, being a warm mother, drinking coffee and talking; we get to see the more human side of a woman who is often regarded as a superhero.

4.) The Pixar Story (2007) Rated: G

What do the movies Cars, Monsters Inc., The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and Toy Story all have in common? They were all created by Pixar. In this movie, we learn all about Pixar’s successes as well as all of its failures. Animation is oftentimes overlooked and this documentary proves it. The movie shows the amount of work that goes into a single scene, the drama and business it took to build Pixar into the powerhouse it is today. After watching this documentary, I’m sure everybody will be much more appreciative of all of their favorite animations.

5.) Three Identical Strangers (2018) Rated: PG-13

Imagine finding out you have not only one brother you didn’t know about but two identical brothers you had no idea existed. Well, this is what happened to triplets Robert, Eddy, and David. After Bobby and Eddy end up attending the same college purely by chance, they quickly realize they are related. David joined the picture when Bobby and Eddy’s story went viral on the internet and he realized that the two of them looked identical to him as well. Once the boys all meet and get to know each other, questions start being asked, the most obvious one being, why were the split up. Their adoptive parents start looking into the adoption agency, as none of the three sets of parents knew their child was a triplet. It is then revealed that the triplets were part of a study that split up triplets and twins to see how they would be the same and how they would differ from each other if split up. This realization creates many more problems within the brothers and opens the audience’s eyes on just how impactful family is.

6.) Gaga: Five Foot Two (2017) Rated: TV-MA

So far, 2019 as has been Lady Gaga‘s year, scoring her first Oscar, as well as three Grammy’s, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and starting her Las Vegas residency at the end of 2018. Why not get an inside look into one of the world’s largest pop stars lives? The film breaks the barrier between Gaga being a celebrity and being a normal person who deals with universal problems like everybody else does. Throughout the documentary, we get to see just a fraction of the highs and lows Gaga deals with. These range from dealing with her health issues, to preparing and creating her album “Joanne” which was named after her aunt who passed away, as well as learning more about her beloved aunt, preparing for the 2017 Super Bowl Halftime Show, dealing with a former fiancé and much more. Learn more about this Renaissance woman and all that she does, and I promise you will forget all about her meat dress and see her in a completely different light than before.

7.) On Her Shoulders (2018) Rated: NR

This documentary focuses on Nadia Murad, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, who is using her past to help raise awareness and aid for others. Nadia is Yazidi, an often over-looked ethnic and religious community, and through her activism, she is raising awareness for not only them but for all refugees and specifically refugees affected by sexual abuse. Despite being an amazing activist, Nadia is hesitant to take on her new role, weighing the risks of speaking out against ISIS. Eventually, Nadia gains enough awareness that she is able to speak in front of the United Nations. If you are in the mood to not only be educated but inspired, this movie is the way to go.

8.) Amy (2015) Rated: R

This documentary focuses on Amy Winehouse, a famous member of the 27 Club, which is a club of musicians who have all died when they were 27 years old. The club includes Jimi HendrixJanis Joplin, and Kurt Cobain just to name a few. The film is created from personal footage, interviews, and testimonials which show Winehouse as an aspiring teen singer to the height of her fame, all while dealing with her addictions. Most documentaries about famous celebrities are flashy and aim to paint the person in the best light, but this movie is raw, emotional, and by the end of it you feel as though you and Winehouse have been lifelong friends.

At the time of this post, The Pixar Story, Amy and Gaga: Five Feet Two are on Netflix, Three Identical Strangers, RBG, and Free Solo are on Hulu and On Her Shoulders, Three Identical Strangers, The Pixar Story, RBG, Amy, Super-Size Me, and Free Solo are on Amazon Prime.