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50 Best Documentaries Of All Time That Will Change Your Life

50 Best Documentaries Of All Time That Will Change Your Life

Documentaries are often more powerful than other types of films simply because they show the sides of life that many people would not be able to experience otherwise. Whether this involves a glimpse at the life of an unhealthy adult or traveling with a flock of animals, documentaries have the potential to change your life.

The following documentaries vary in genre and style, but they all have messages that will have an impact on your life.

1. Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (2010)

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

    By trying a juicing diet, Joe Cross is able to experience a new perspective on life while making the cross-country journey across America. You can watch on Netflix.

    2. May I Be Frank? (2010)

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      Frank’s choice to cut out all toxins and go completely vegan is inspiring for anyone who wants to have a healthier life, both mentally and physically. You can watch it on Hulu.

      3. Simply Raw (2009)

      simply raw

        This documentary shows the impact a raw diet can have on anyone, especially a group of diabetics who go raw for 30 days. You can watch it on YouTube.

        4. Vegucated (2011)

        vegucated

          Watch three New Yorkers embark on a vegan diet on Netflix.

          5. Food Fight (2004)

          food fight

            Why are there so many packaged foods? And why is junk food cheaper than health foods? Watch on Hulu to see for yourself.

            6. Supersize Me (2004)

            supersize me

              Though this documentary has been called out for exaggerating the effects of McDonald’s food, it is eye-opening to see how a diet consisting solely of fast food can impact your health. Watch it here and make up your own mind on the issue.

              7. Sicko (2007)

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                Michael Moore’s documentary sheds light on the American health care system and points out the issues that many people who just want to be healthy face every day. Watch the film online here.

                8. The Thin Blue Line (1988)

                the thin blue line

                  This documentary literally freed a man from prison. Errol Morris’ dedication to discovering the truth behind the Randall Adams’ case led to the reopening of a murder case. Watch the whole documentary on Netflix.

                  9. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)

                  enron

                    Director Albert Gibney takes a look into the corporate greed that defrauded thousands of workers in the Enron scandal. Watch it on Hulu here.

                    10. The Act of Killing (2013)

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                    The-Act-of-Killing-DVD-cover

                      Focusing on the Indonesian Killings of 1965­–1966, this documentary can be difficult to watch. It confronts the terrible fact that the government contains many of the people involved in the genocide many years ago. You can watch it on Netflix.

                      11. The Art of the Steal (2009)

                      the art of the steal

                        This documentary shows the lengths many people will go through to receive private property — in this case, several priceless pieces of art — even if it means breaking apart a man’s clearly-written will. Watch it on Netflix.

                        12. The Imposter (2012)

                        the imposter

                          This documentary, which feels more like a thriller, examines a couple whose 13-year old son was found three years later in Spain. However, their “son” is clearly a man in his twenties — so for what reasons do they believe this man is their son? Watch it on Netflix.

                          13. Man on Wire (2008)

                          man on a wire

                            When Phillipe Petit strung a wire between the two World Trade Center buildings and walked across it without any safety measures, the world was astounded. You can watch the man behind the feat on Netflix.

                            14. Inside 9/11 (2006)

                            inside-9-11

                              Though it is painful to relive, this documentary examines the before, during and after of the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil. Watch it here.

                              15. A Film Unfinished (2010)

                              A-Film-Unfinished

                                This documentary features an unfinished Nazi-produced film from the 1940s. Lacking both sound and a definitive ending, this film brings an eye-opening view on the Warsaw Ghetto during the Nazi reign. You can watch it on Hulu.

                                16. In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)

                                In the Shadow of the Moon - Documentary

                                  Featuring first-hand testimonies of the only men who set foot on the moon, this documentary serves as a great reminder that there’s a whole universe outside our planet. You can watch it here.

                                  17. Titanic: The Final Word (2012)

                                  titanic

                                    Though James Cameron is known for his blockbuster films, he has gone on more expeditions to the Titanic ruins than anyone else in the world. This documentary examines the sinking and shed new light on the infamous disaster. Watch it online here.

                                    18. Solo (2008)

                                    solo

                                      In 2007, Andrew McAuley began his journey to be the first man to kayak from Tasmania to New Zealand. Recovered footage of his journey examines the man who was willing to risk his life to achieve this record. You can watch it on Youtube.

                                      19. Touching the Void (2003)

                                      touching the void

                                        Based on a book by the same name, this documentary shows the events of two men who get separated while climbing the Andes. Hailed as one of the best British documentaries, it conducts interviews with the two men and features reenactments of the events. This is available on Amazon.

                                        20. Blindsight (2006)

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                                          This inspiring story features a group of Tibetan blind boys who, shunned by their family and community due to cultural stigma, climb the north side of Mount Everest. You can watch it on Hulu.

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                                          21. Gasland (2010)

                                          gasland

                                            This film answers questions many people have regarding fracking, while raising questions about why it’s happening today. You can watch it on Youtube.

                                            22. Encounters at the End of the World (2007)

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                                              Antarctica has as much beauty and wonder to it as any other part of the world. This film shows the beauty of this land and the people who study it. You can watch it on Amazon.

                                              23. Marley (2012)

                                              marley

                                                Director Kevin Macdonald’s documentary takes a look into this influential musicians life to examine why he’s still influential even today. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                24. 20 Feet From Stardom (2013)

                                                20 feet from stardom

                                                  Behind almost every singer is a group of backup singers. Watch a new perspective of singers  on Netflix.

                                                  25. Festival Express (2003)

                                                  festival express

                                                    Take a look at one of the biggest musical tours of 1970. A must-see for any music lover, you can watch it here.

                                                    26. Senna (2010)

                                                    senna

                                                      Known as one of the greatest sports documentaries, Senna uses footages from the ‘80s and ‘90s to tell the story of Aryton Senna. His fame as one of the greatest Formula One racers lives on. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                      27. Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery (2012)

                                                      russell brand

                                                        This documentary covers Russell Brand’s journey from addict to sobriety. Including facts about alcohol addiction and the mental and physical struggles he overcomes, his story can inspire anyone with similar addictions. You can watch it here.

                                                        28. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

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                                                          Created by renowned graffiti artist Banksy, the film proves to be an interesting look at Los Angeles street art and the impact is has on the people. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                          29. Charles Manson: The Man Who Killed the Sixties (1994)

                                                          charles manson

                                                            Charles Manson’s belief led to the creation of a cult-like following who would go on to kill seven innocent people. Seeing the impact this man had on people is astounding, especially when you realize what he encouraged. You can watch it online.

                                                            30. The Great American Cowboy (1973)

                                                            great american cowboy

                                                              The winner of the 1973 Academy Award for Best Documentary, with plenty of action and thrills, you won’t look at the rodeo the same way again. You can watch it in four parts on YouTube.

                                                              31. Best Worst Movie (2009)

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                                                              best worst movie

                                                                Troll 2 is one of the worst movies created — but it has one of the largest cult followings. This documentary gets to the heart of the behind-the-scenes and helps explain what makes the bad so appealing. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                                32. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2012)

                                                                jiro

                                                                  Jiro is the world’s best sushi chef. He is so devoted to his work he literally dreams of it and of being even better. With plenty of heart, this documentary examines Jiro’s relationship with his son and the desire to reach perfection. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                                  33. Jesus Camp (2006)

                                                                  jesus camp

                                                                    There’s a camp in North Dakota where Christian children are told they can “take back America for Christ.” Hard to watch at times, this film is an eye-opening experience. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                                    34. The Queen of Versailles (2012)

                                                                    queen of versailles

                                                                      Originally meant to be a quick look at the obscenely rich, this documentary follows a family as they go from riches to rags with the 2008 housing market crash. Bouncing from funny to heart wrenching, you’ll have to prepare yourself for a rollercoaster of emotions. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                                      35. The UP series (1964-Present)

                                                                      The_Up_series_DVD

                                                                        This documentary series follows the lives of fourteen British youths from 7 to 56. With a wide range of demographics, you see how differently the lives play out for the privileged and the poor. You can  watch 7 Up and 56 Up on Netflix.

                                                                        36. March of the Penguins (2005)

                                                                        march of penguins

                                                                          This well-known documentary shows the lengths emperor penguins go through to ensure their children survive the incubation period in the frigid Antarctic. It’s moving and will tug and your heartstrings. You can stream it on Amazon.

                                                                          37. Blackfish (2013)

                                                                          blackfish

                                                                            This film gives insight on the accidents associated with Seaworld’s whales and shows how the attacks are more humankind’s making due to years of mistreatment, rather than natural instinct. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                                            38. Winged Migration (Le Peuple Migrateur)  (2003)

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                                                                              With some of the most beautiful shots in documentary history, this follows the migration patterns of birds throughout the seasons. This is a visual masterpiece that will leave you breathless until the final credits. You can watch it here.

                                                                              39. Grizzly Man (2005)

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                                                                                Timothy Treadwell lived with the bears he studied and loved and was eventually killed by them. A look at how obsessive behavior can lead to disaster, the film is powerful and haunting. You can watch it on Hulu here.

                                                                                40. The Cove (2009)

                                                                                the cove

                                                                                  In a small town in Japan, the people’s livelihood comes from hunting the endangered and beautiful dolphins. With beautiful underwater shots and shocking images of the industry’s impact on the ecology, you’ll have a deeper respect for the beauty on the world after watching this. You can watch it on Amazon.

                                                                                  41. The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2005)

                                                                                  wild parrots

                                                                                    Many years ago, a flock of parrots gathered in a section of San Francisco. Though no one knows where they came from, a street musician soon formed a bond with the birds. This documentary is a charming and intelligent story of humanity and nature. You can watch it on Youtube.

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                                                                                    42. The Hellstrom Chronicle (1971)

                                                                                    hellstrom

                                                                                      A mix of documentary, science fiction and horror, The Hellstrom Chronicle presents a struggle between humans and insects. Though you may be more wary of insects after watching this, it shows that small things can have great power when combined. You can watch it in parts on Youtube.

                                                                                      43. The Invisible War (2012)

                                                                                      invisible war

                                                                                        Tackling the subject of rape is hard enough, but this documentary goes to great lengths to expose the attacks female American soldiers face within their own ranks. This will force you to question a government that would cover up these crimes and a military that would allow them to happen. You can watch it here.

                                                                                        44. Brooklyn Castle (2012)

                                                                                        brooklyn castle

                                                                                          Brooklyn Castle reveals the impact extracurricular activities have on children in schools, particularly inner-city schools. Following a group of children who just want to play chess, it reveals how important it is for kids to have options at school. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                                                          45. Bully (2011)

                                                                                          bully

                                                                                            Focusing on two students whose bullying eventually led to their suicides, the documentary follows five children who were bullied. It shows how hard it is for children to defend themselves and why it’s important to step in when bullying occurs. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                                                            46. Fambul Tok (2011)

                                                                                            fambul tok

                                                                                              Though the fighting is over, the effects of the civil war in Sierra Leone are still present. Translating into family talk, Fambul Tok shows how the perpetrators of vicious crimes still walk among their victims without the fear of imprisonment or punishment. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                                                              47. How to Survive a Plague (2012)

                                                                                              how to survive a plague

                                                                                                When the AIDS epidemic first swept the nation, two groups — ACT UP and Treatment Action Group (TAG) — were formed to help find treatment and a cure for the disease. This documentary takes film from over 700 hours of archived video to follows these organizations as they helped transform the disease from a death sentence to something survivable. You can watch it on Netflix.

                                                                                                48. Murderball (2005)

                                                                                                murderball

                                                                                                  Following paraplegic rugby players, this documentary shatters any beliefs you may have about the handicapped and their supposed limitations. You can watch it on YouTube.

                                                                                                  49. The Island President (2012)

                                                                                                  the island president

                                                                                                    The Island President follows Maldives’ president during his first year as he works to save his country from the ever-rising ocean. You can watch it here.

                                                                                                    50. Bigger, Stronger, Faster (2008)

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                                                                                                      Analyzing America’s obsession with winning, director Chris Bell looks into the bodybuiding culture and its use of steroids for success. It looks into the dangerous side effects that come with being successful. You can watch on YouTube.

                                                                                                      Featured photo credit: theactofkilling.com via theactofkilling.com

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                                                                                                      Kayla Matthews

                                                                                                      Productivity and self-improvement blogger

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                                                                                                      Last Updated on January 3, 2020

                                                                                                      The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

                                                                                                      The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

                                                                                                      Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

                                                                                                      The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

                                                                                                      1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

                                                                                                      Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

                                                                                                       I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

                                                                                                      To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

                                                                                                      And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

                                                                                                       2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

                                                                                                      Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

                                                                                                      3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

                                                                                                      Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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                                                                                                      4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

                                                                                                      The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

                                                                                                      5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

                                                                                                      Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

                                                                                                      6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

                                                                                                      Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

                                                                                                      7. Positive people smile a lot!

                                                                                                      When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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                                                                                                      8. People who are positive are great communicators.

                                                                                                      They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

                                                                                                      9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

                                                                                                      One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

                                                                                                      10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

                                                                                                      Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

                                                                                                      How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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                                                                                                      I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

                                                                                                      Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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