While the non-fiction arena is a sprawling field, including a wide range of stories told through various techniques, one organization has set out to narrow down 25 of the most influential documentaries of all-time. Cinema Eye Honors, founded in 2007 to promote non-fiction films, will not only deliver awards for the best docs of the year (going to The Interrupters, Exit Through the Gift Shop and The Cove in recent years), but their voting body of over 75 also select a Legacy Award to consider one of the great works in the field.
Previous years have resulted in classics such as Sherman’s March, Grey Gardens and Titicut Follies being recognized and now the shortlist of 25 films for 2014 has been recently revealed (via The Wrap). I might have made room for something in the Koyaanisqatsi/Samsara/Baraka camp, but the final round-up is a strong collection of must-see works in the field.
Including some of my personal favorites such as Salesman, Don’t Look Back, Night and Fog and Man With a Movie Camera, check out the list below, which had no restrictions on what could be chosen. We’ve also embedded the full films streaming for free or on Hulu, etc. (except for Sherman’s March, currently only available on DVD), split across the next few pages.
American Movie / Chris Smith (1999) (watch on YouTube)
Bowling for Columbine / Michael Moore (2002)
Brother’s Keeper / Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky (1992)
Burden of Dreams / Les Blank (1982) (watch on YouTube)
Capturing the Friedmans / Andrew Jarecki (2003) (watch on Hulu Plus)
Crumb / Terry Zwigoff (1994) (watch on YouTube)
Don’t Look Back / D A Pennebaker (1967)
F for Fake / Orson Welles (1973) (watch on YouTube)
The Fog of War / Errol Morris (2003)
Gimme Shelter / Albert Maysles, David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin (1970)
Grey Gardens / Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer (1975)
Grizzly Man / Werner Herzog (2005) (watch on Hulu)
Harlan County, USA / Barbara Kopple (1976)
Hearts and Minds / Peter Davis (1974)
Hoop Dreams / Steve James (1994)
Man With a Movie Camera / Dziga Vertov (1929)
Night and Fog / Alain Resnais (1955)
Salesman / Albert Maysles, David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin (1968)
Sans Soleil / Chris Marker (1983) (watch on Hulu Plus)
Sherman’s March / Ross McElwee (1985) (watch on DVD)
Shoah / Claude Lanzmann (1985)
The Thin Blue Line / Errol Morris (1988)
Titicut Follies / Frederick Wiseman (1967)
The War Room / Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker (1993) (watch on Hulu Plus)
When We Were Kings / Leon Gast (1996)
Which should take home the Legacy award? What’s missing from the list?