Top 50 Documentary Films that Impressed & Influenced Me the Most

Latest update: September 2021 | Adrian Țofei

These are the documentary films that impressed and/or influenced me the most from childhood till recently. They’re not necessarily the ones I consider to be the best or most truthful ever made, it’s a highly subjective list of the documentaries that marked my life. Colored green are the newly-added films and those that climbed in the top at the latest updates. Check out my other film lists as well!

Top 10:

  1. Roger & Me (1989, Michael Moore)
  2. The Eye of the Storm (1970, William Peters) + Frontline: A Class Divided (1985 tv episode, William Peters)
  3. My Voyage to Italy (1999, Martin Scorsese)
  4. The Untold History of the United States (2012-2013 tv mini-series, Oliver Stone)
  5. Hearts and Minds (1974, Peter Davis)
  6. Where to Invade Next (2015, Michael Moore)
  7. Earthlings (2005, Shaun Monson)
  8. Grizzly Man (2005, Werner Herzog)
  9. Man with a Movie Camera (1929, Dziga Vertov)
  10. 13th (2016, Ava DuVernay)

Top 25:

(in chronological order from 11th to 25th)

  • Better Brain Health / A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Brain (2019, Raphael Hitier)
  • Collective (2019, Alexander Nanau) – review
  • Planet Earth II: Islands & Cities (2016 tv episodes, Elizabeth White & Fredi Devas)
  • Citizenfour (2014, Laura Poitras)
  • The Act of Killing (2012, Joshua Oppenheimer)
  • Searching for Sugar Man (2012, Malik Bendjelloul)
  • Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008, Kurt Kuenne)
  • The Enemies of Reason (2007, Russell Barnes)
  • In the Shadow of the Moon (2007, David Sington)
  • Twist of Faith (2004, Kirby Dick)
  • A Decade Under the Influence (2003, Ted Demme, Richard LaGravenese)
  • The Iceman and the Psychiatrist (2003, Arthur Ginsberg)
  • The Battle Over Citizen Kane (1996, Michael Epstein & Thomas Lennon)
  • Isle of Flowers (1989 short, Jorge Furtado)
  • Koyaanisqatsi (1982, Godfrey Reggio)

Top 50:

(in chronological order from 26th to 50th)

  • 30 Years of Democracy (2019, Cristian Delcea & Mihai Voinea)
  • Apollo 11 (2019, Todd Douglas Miller)
  • Happy (2012, Roko Belic)
  • After Hitler (2016, David Korn-Brzoza)
  • The Imposter (2012, Bart Layton)
  • The Invisible War (2012, Kirby Dick)
  • Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (2011, Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky)
  • Inside Job (2010, Charles Ferguson)
  • The Cove (2009, Louie Psihoyos)
  • Talhotblond: (2009, Laura Schroeder)
  • Snuff: A Documentary About Killing on Camera (2008, Paul von Stoetzel)
  • The Soviet Story (2008, Edvins Snore)
  • Sicko (2007, Michael Moore)
  • Zeitgeist (2007, Peter Joseph)
  • Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (2006)
  • The Secret (2006, Drew Heriot)
  • Chernobyl Heart (2003 short, Maryann DeLeo)
  • Tarnation (2003, Jonathan Caouette)
  • The Tramp and the Dictator (2002, Kevin Brownlow & Michael Kloft)
  • Children Underground (2001, Edet Belzberg)
  • The Celluloid Closet (1995, Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman)
  • Various TV documentaries on nature & science (1994-2005)
  • University Square: Romania (1991, Stere Gulea, Vivi Dragan Vasile, Sorin Iliesiu)
  • Africa Addio (1966, Gualtiero Jacopetti & Franco Prosperi)
  • Olympia (1938, Leni Riefenstahl)

Listing these films doesn’t mean acceptance of the potentially illegal, unethical or immoral behaviour of any creator or star, neither that I agree with their opinions on any subject matter. It also doesn’t mean approval of the ideas expressed in the films or of the ways they were made.