The best documentaries on Amazon Prime Video right now

While you may not literally learn something new every day, you can certainly try to be watching a documentary every day. Thanks to the extensive on-demand repository from streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, you can explore the world from your couch any time you want. From the natural world to the heavens above, centuries in the past to ideas forging the future, Amazon is packed with documentaries for any mood. We’ve sorted through the streamer’s massive library to show you the best docs currently available on Prime Video.

We’ve also rounded up the best documentaries on Netflix and the best documentaries on Hulu if Amazon Prime Video doesn’t have what you’re looking for.

Grizzly Man (2005)

Legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog finds one of his more fascinating subjects in Timothy Treadwell, the man who would become known as Grizzly Man. Pieced together from Treadwell’s actual video footage, Herzog examines the calling that drove Treadwell to live among a tribe of grizzly bears in Alaska. A devoted conservationist and avid adventurer, Treadwell truly believed that he had bridged the gap between humans and bears. But when one of the bears he loved and protected turns on him, the grim footage of the attack becomes a tragic window into our understanding of nature.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: Werner Herzog, Val Dexter, Carol Dexter
Director: Werner Herzog
Rating: R
Runtime: 104 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

Time (2020)

One of life’s most precious commodities — the one we can never get back — is time. That’s especially true for those who are incarcerated or have a loved one locked up in prison. Time takes an unflinching look at a family dealing with the struggles of losing that time through the eyes of Sibil Fox Richardson, whose husband Rob is serving 60 years in prison for robbing a bank. Home videos of the family are used throughout the documentary, adding poignancy to the film and making sure viewers never forget that these are real people living through the prison-industrial complex. The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2020, where director Garrett Bradley became the first Black woman to win the U.S. Documentary Directing Award.

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Stars: Fox Rich, Rob G. Rich
Director: Garrett Bradley
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 81 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (2011)

In 2009, Conan O’Brien famously took over for Jay Leno as host of NBC’s iconic The Tonight Show. But after just seven months with the gig, he was unceremoniously fired. Suddenly unemployed and embroiled in a bitter legal battle with the network, Conan took his show on the road for a 32-city comedy show titled The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour. Filmmaker Rodman Flender follows him every step of the way, creating an unusual documentary that’s part stand-up special, part concert film, part deep introspective of one of the 21st century’s most celebrated comedians at the most tumultuous time of his career.

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Stars: Conan O’Brien
Directors: Rodman Flender
Rating: R
Runtime: 88 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

Jasper Mall (2020)

If it feels like ’80s nostalgia is at an all-time high, you might be right. And right at the center of that nostalgia trip is the shopping mall. In this pensive documentary, Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb expose the reality of the dying American mall industry by focusing on a once-thriving mall in Jasper, Alabama. Formerly the hub of a community, the dying mall is now emblematic of changing economic tides and a culture that may be permanently gone.

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Stars: N/A
Directors: Bradford Thomason, Brett Whitcomb
Rating: PG
Runtime: 84 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

The Booksellers (2019)

You might not think a documentary about New York’s rare book world would be interesting or entertaining. You’d be wrong. The Booksellers invites you into a world of fascinating bibliophiles, taking you into some of the extraordinary lengths mildly obsessive people will go to for the sake of adding to their precious libraries. With endlessly entertaining interviews with the likes of Parker Posey, Fran Lebowitz, and Gay Talese, The Booksellers is one of those rare documentaries that feels like a narrative.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Stars: Parker Posey, Fran Lebowitz, Gay Talese
Directors: D.W. Young
Rating: PG
Runtime: 99 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

Stop Making Sense (1984)

Jonathan Demme’s Talking Heads concert film is one of the most beloved entries in the genre. Shot at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in 1983, Demme captures all of the energy and artistry that made Talking Heads, and especially frontman David Byrne, an ’80s icon. From the modest opening to the crescendoing finale, Stop Making Sense is an iconic piece of music filmmaking and an important piece of music history.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Stars: David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison
Director: Jonathan Demme
Rating: PG
Runtime: 88 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

All In: The Fight for Democracy (2020)

The lead-up to the 2020 election was one of the most contentious periods in recent American history. From the coronavirus pandemic to the fight for racial justice to the staggering economic downturn affecting millions around the country, it’s never been more important to make sure your voice is heard and vote. That’s the message behind All In, an Amazon Original released in September, less than two months before Election Day. The filmmakers get their message across by zeroing in on the issue of voter suppression, focusing on the 2018 gubernatorial race in Georgia, where Stacey Abrams allegedly lost due to voter suppression. Abrams has since founded Fair Fight Action, an organization dedicated to addressing the issue.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Stars: Stacey Abrams, Ari Berman, David Pepper
Directors: Liz Garbus, Lisa Cortes
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 102 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

Hale County, This Morning This Evening (2018)

Hale County, This Morning This Evening is important viewing for how extraordinarily ordinary it is. Director RaMell Ross purposely avoids narrative in this documentary about Black lives in the 2010s. It takes a big-picture view of the Black experience through an intimate lens that immerses the audience better than any real story could. This is life, writ small. Hale County, This Morning This Evening isn’t for everybody (read: if you don’t appreciate art house, you may find it pretentious), but if you’d like to sit back and truly appreciate the beauty of life for a while, you’re in for a treat.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Director: RaMell Ross
Rating: 18+
Runtime: 76 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

That Sugar Film (2015)

That Sugar Film is in the same mold as Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me, except it’s Australian and focuses on an even more pervasive food industry evil: sugar. Director Damon Gameau decides to consume a high-sugar diet — through foods commonly assumed to be healthy — for 30 straight days. No, he’s not stuffing his face with candy and soda; Gameau instead illuminates how massive amounts of sugar are often found in places you likely thought were safe. With entertaining cameos from Hugh Jackman and Stephen Fry, That Sugar Film feels like a sugar high, right until the eye-opening crash.

Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Stars: Damon Gameau, Hugh Jackman, Stephen Fry
Director: Damon Gameau
Rating: PG
Runtime: 94 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

More Than a Gam
Go to Source