Best Documentary Movies of 2003

1.

The Fog of War

5.8
8.1/10

Using archival footage, United States Cabinet conversation recordings, and an interview of the 85-year-old Robert McNamara, THE FOG OF WAR depicts his life, from working as a WWII whiz kid military officer, to being the Ford Motor Company's president, to managing the American Vietnam War, as defense secretary for presidents Kennedy and Johnson.

Starring: Robert McNamara, Errol Morris, Fidel Castro, Barry Goldwater, John F. Kennedy
Directed by: Errol Morris
Release date: 2003-12-09
2.

Touching the Void

5.7
8.0/10

A documentary based on the book of the same name by Joe Simpson about Simpson's and Simon Yates' disastrous and near-fatal attempt to climb 6,344m Siula Grande in the Cordillera Huayhuash in the Peruvian Andes in 1985.

Starring: Brendan Mackey, Nicholas Aaron, Richard Hawking, Ollie Ryall, Joe Simpson
Directed by: Kevin Macdonald
Release date: 2003-09-05
3.

Tupac: Resurrection

4.3
8.0/10
Tupac: Resurrection
Home movies, photographs, and recited poetry illustrate the life of Tupac Shakur, one of the most beloved, revolutionary, and volatile hip-hop MCs of all time.
Starring: Tupac Amaru Shakur
Directed by: Lauren Lazin
Release date: 2003-01-23
4.

End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones

4.2
8.0/10

Filmmaker Michael Gramaglia's years-in-the-making biography of the legendary punk band the Ramones entitled End of the Century traces nearly all the various and sundry peaks and valleys which the seminal rockers experienced over the course of its 20-plus year career before disbanding in 1995. Beginning with the band's first concert performances in the mid-'70s, Gramaglia explores the eccentric and highly volatile band members -- in all the various line-ups that were presented over the years -- as the Ramones slowly gained fame for their high energy and high-tempo style of music that would later influence generations of punk rockers around the world. Mixing archival interviews with new interviews of the various surviving bandmembers, as well as interviews with a number of the Ramones' contemporaries, End of the Century encapsulates the East Coast underground music atmosphere of the 1970s and '80s that the band inadvertently shocked into existence.

Starring: Marky Ramone, Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone, Tommy Ramone, Joey Ramone
Directed by: Michael Gramaglia, Jim Fields
Release date: 2003-01-19
5.

Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon

4.1
8.4/10
Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon
Released to coincide with the 30th anniversary of this classic album, learn how Pink Floyd assembled "Dark Side of the Moon" with the aid of original engineer Alan Parsons. All four band members--Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright--are interviewed at length, giving valuable insights into the recording process. The themes of the album are discussed at length, and the band take you back to the original multi track tapes to illustrate how they pieced together the songs. With individual performances of certain tracks from Roger, David, and Richard included, this is an essential purchase for any Pink Floyd fans, and a fascinating artefact for rock historians everywhere.
Starring: David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Richard Wright, Alan Parsons, Chris Thomas
Directed by: Matthew Longfellow
Release date: 2003-06-01
6.

Bukowski - Born into This

4.1
7.9/10

Director John Dullaghan’s biographical documentary about infamous poet Charles Bukowski, Bukowski: Born Into This, is as much a touching portrait of the author as it is an exposé of his sordid lifestyle. Interspersed between ample vintage footage of Bukowski’s poetry readings are interviews with the poet’s fans including such legendary figures such as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Joyce Fante (wife of John), Bono, and Harry Dean Stanton. Filmed in grainy black and white by Bukowski’s friend, Taylor Hackford, due to lack of funding, the old films edited into this movie paint Bukowski’s life of boozing and brawling romantically, securing Bukowski’s legendary status.

Starring: Charles Bukowski, Harry Dean Stanton, Sean Penn, Bono, Linda Bukowski
Directed by: John Dullaghan
Release date: 2003-01-18
7.

Los Angeles Plays Itself

4.1
8.0/10

From its distinctive neighborhoods to its architectural homes, Los Angeles has been the backdrop to countless movies. In this dazzling work, Andersen takes viewers on a whirlwind tour through the metropolis real and cinematic history, investigating the myriad stories and legends that have come to define it, and meticulously, judiciously revealing the real city that lives beneath.

Starring: Encke King
Directed by: Thom Andersen
Release date: 2003-09-07
8.

Faster

4.1
7.9/10

Faster is an electrifying tribute to the white-knuckle world of MotoGP™ – the fastest sport on two wheels – where the world's top riders go wheel to wheel at over 200mph and crash at over 100mph. Narrated by Ewan McGregor, Faster chases two seasons' worth of the world championship, featuring revealing interviews with riders, mechanics, doctors, commentators and fans. If you want high octane, adrenaline fuelled thrills, Faster will take you on a nerve shredding journey through the most exciting sport on the planet!

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Valentino Rossi, Max Biaggi, Garry McCoy
Directed by: Mark Neale
Release date: 2003-05-15
9.

A Decade Under the Influence

4.0
7.6/10

Documentary on the effects of 1970s filmmaking.

Starring: Julie Christie, Sydney Pollack, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Altman, Paul Schrader
Directed by: Ted Demme, Richard LaGravenese
Release date: 2003-04-25
10.

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

4.0
7.9/10

A homeless musician finds meaning to his life when he starts a friendship with dozens of parrots.

Directed by: Judy Irving
Release date: 2003-10-09
11.

Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin

3.9
8.0/10
Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin
Brilliant, long in-the-works story of the life and art of the world's greatest comedian and the cinema's first genius, Charlie Chaplin. Produced, written and directed by renowned film critic Richard Schickel.
Starring: Sydney Pollack, Woody Allen, Richard Attenborough, Jeanine Basinger, Claire Bloom
Directed by: Richard Schickel
Release date: 2003-05-01
12.

Tarnation

3.9
7.1/10

Filmmaker Jonathan Caouette's documentary on growing up with his schizophrenic mother -- a mixture of snapshots, Super-8, answering machine messages, video diaries, early short films, and more -- culled from 19 years of his life.

Starring: Renee Leblanc, Adolph Davis, Jonathan Caouette, Rosemary Davis, David Sanin Paz
Directed by: Jonathan Caouette
Release date: 2003-10-19
13.

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood

3.9
7.5/10
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood
A look at 1970s Hollywood when it was known as New Hollywood, and the director was the star of the movie.
Starring: Dennis Hopper, Peter Bogdanovich, William H. Macy, Paul Schrader, Margot Kidder
Directed by: Kenneth Bowser
Release date: 2003-03-09
14.

Step Into Liquid

3.9
7.5/10
Step Into Liquid
No special effects. No stuntmen. No stereotypes. No other feeling comes close. Surfers and secret spots from around the world are profiled in this documentary.
Starring: Robert August, Rochelle Ballard, Shawn Barron, Layne Beachley, Bob Beaton
Directed by: Dana Brown
Release date: 2003-08-05
15.

My Architect

3.8
7.4/10
My Architect
World-famous architect Louis Kahn (Exeter Library, Salk Institute, Bangladeshi Capitol Building) had two illegitimate children with two different women outside of his marriage. Son Nathaniel always hoped that someday his father would come and live with him and his mother, but Kahn never left his wife. Instead, Kahn was found dead in a men's room in Penn Station when Nathaniel was only 11.
Directed by: Nathaniel Kahn
Release date: 2003-11-12
16.

Ghosts of the Abyss

3.8
6.8/10

Academy Award® winning director and master storyteller James Cameron journeys back to the site of his greatest inspiration, the legendary wreck of the Titanic. With a team of the world's foremost historic and marine experts and friend Bill Paxton, he embarks on an unscripted adventure back to the final grave where nearly 1,500 souls lost their lives almost a century ago.

Starring: Bill Paxton, John Broadwater, James Cameron, Mike Cameron, Ken Marschall
Directed by: James Cameron
Release date: 2003-04-10
17.

Festival Express

3.8
7.6/10

The filmed account of a large Canadian rock festival train tour.

Starring: Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson
Directed by: Bob Smeaton, Frank Cvitanovich
Release date: 2003-09-19
18.

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Live at Slane Castle

3.7
8.9/10
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Live at Slane Castle
Live at Slane Castle is a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert video released in 2003, two years after the release of their latest concert DVD, Off the Map. The concert taped was their second show at Slane Castle in Ireland. It was filmed on August 23, 2003 and the DVD was released on November 17, 2003.
Starring: Anthony Kiedis, John Frusciante, Flea, Chad Smith
Directed by: Nick Wickham
Release date: 2003-11-17
19.

Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer

3.7
7.1/10

British documentarian Nick Broomfield creates a follow-up piece to his 1992 documentary of the serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a highway prostitute who was convicted of killing six men in Florida between 1989 and 1990. Interviewing an increasingly mentally unstable Wuornos, Broomfield captures the distorted mind of a murderer whom the state of Florida deems of sound mind -- and therefore fit to execute. Throughout the film, Broomfield includes footage of his testimony at Wuornos' trial.

Starring: Aileen Wuornos, Nick Broomfield, Diane Wuornos, Terry Humphreys-Slay, Arlene Pralle
Directed by: Joan Churchill, Nick Broomfield
Release date: 2003-09-09
20.

Deep Blue

3.7
7.4/10
Deep Blue
Deep Blue is a major documentary feature film shot by the BBC Natural History Unit. An epic cinematic rollercoaster ride for all ages, Deep Blue uses amazing footage to tell us the story of our oceans and the life they support.
Starring: Michael Gambon, Pierce Brosnan, Frank Glaubrecht, Jacques Perrin, Dalik Volonitz
Directed by: Andy Byatt, Alastair Fothergill
Release date: 2003-05-18

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