Best Documentary Movies of 2004

1.

Fahrenheit 9/11

5.3

Michael Moore's view on what happened to the United States after September 11; and how the Bush Administration allegedly used the tragic event to push forward its agenda for unjust wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Starring: Michael Moore, George W. Bush, Ben Affleck, Stevie Wonder, Al Gore
Directed by: Michael Moore
Release date: 2004-06-25
2.

Super Size Me

5.1

Morgan Spurlock subjects himself to a diet based only on McDonald's fast food three times a day for thirty days without exercising to try to prove why so many Americans are fat or obese. He submits himself to a complete check-up by three doctors, comparing his weight along the way, resulting in a scary conclusion.

Starring: Morgan Spurlock, Daryl Isaacs, Lisa Ganjhu, Stephen Siegel, Bridget Bennett
Directed by: Morgan Spurlock
Release date: 2004-01-17
3.

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

4.5
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Some Kind of Monster is a music documentary about Metallica's making of their album St. Anger and the difficulties they had to go through in the process. The directors shot over 1200 hours and followed the band around night and day for over a year to create this documentary.
Starring: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Bob Rock, Robert Trujillo
Directed by: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky
Release date: 2004-01-21
4.

The Power of Nightmares

4.5
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A series of three documentaries about the use of fear for political gain.
Release date: 2004-10-19
5.

Riding Giants

4.3

Riding Giants is story about big wave surfers who have become heroes and legends in their sport. Directed by the skateboard guru Stacy Peralta.

Starring: Jeff Clark, Darrick Doerner, Laird Hamilton, Dave Kalama, David H. Kalama Jr.
Directed by: Stacy Peralta
Release date: 2004-07-09
6.

Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy

4.2

Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy is a 2004 documentary film directed by Kevin Burns and narrated by Robert Clotworthy. It documents the making of the original Star Wars trilogy.

Starring: Robert Clotworthy, Kenny Baker, Jim Bloom, Leo Braudy, Ben Burtt
Directed by: Edith Becker, Kevin Burns
Release date: 2004-09-12
7.

Control Room

4.2

A chronicle which provides a rare window into the international perception of the Iraq War, courtesy of Al Jazeera, the Arab world's most popular news outlet. Roundly criticized by Cabinet members and Pentagon officials for reporting with a pro-Iraqi bias, and strongly condemned for frequently airing civilian causalities as well as footage of American POWs, the station has revealed (and continues to show the world) everything about the Iraq War that the Bush administration did not want it to see.

Starring: Samir Khader, Josh Rushing, George W. Bush, Hassan Ibrahim
Directed by: Jehane Noujaim
Release date: 2004-01-15
8.

Dig!

4.1

A documentary on the once promising American rock bands The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols. The friendship between respective founders, Anton Newcombe and Courtney Taylor, escalated into bitter rivalry as the Dandy Warhols garnered major international success while the Brian Jonestown Massacre imploded in a haze of drugs.

Starring: Anton Newcombe, Courtney Taylor-Taylor, Joel Gion, Matt Hollywood, Peter Holmström
Directed by: Ondi Timoner
Release date: 2004-05-14
9.

Darwin's Nightmare

3.9
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Darwin's Nightmare is a 2004 Austrian-French-Belgian documentary film written and directed by Hubert Sauper, dealing with the environmental and social effects of the fishing industry around Lake Victoria in Tanzania. Some time in the 1960s, in the heart of Africa, a new animal was introduced into Lake Victoria as a little scientific experiment. The Nile Perch, a voracious predator, extinguished almost the entire stock of the native fish species. However, the new fish multiplied so fast, that its white fillets are today exported all around the world. This booming multinational industry of fish and weapons has created an ungodly globalized alliance on the shores of the world’s biggest tropical lake: an army of local fishermen, World bank agents, homeless children, African ministers, EU-commissioners, Tanzanian prostitutes and Russian pilots.
Starring: Elizabeth 'Eliza' Maganga Nsese, Raphael Tukiko Wagara, Dimond Remtulia, Marcus Nyoni, Sergey Samarets
Directed by: Hubert Sauper
Release date: 2004-09-01
10.

Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession

3.9
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A documentary on the Z Channel, one of the first pay cable stations in the US, and its programming chief, Jerry Harvey. Debuting in 1974, the LA-based channel's eclectic slate of movies became a prime example of the untapped power of cable television.
Starring: Quentin Tarantino, Robert Altman, Jim Jarmusch, Paul Verhoeven, Alexander Payne
Directed by: Xan Cassavetes
Release date: 2004-05-16
11.

Almost Round Three - The Almost Video

3.9
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Almost: Round Three is a skateboarding video released on DVD in 2004 by Rodney Mullen's skateboard company Almost. It features the third part of the Rodney Mullen vs. Daewon Song series, the first two of which are included on this DVD as hidden extras. Round Three also features parts by Almost team skaters Chris Haslam, Cooper Wilt, Ryan Sheckler, William Patrick (played by Tyrone Olson and Chris Casey) and Greg Lutzka.
Starring: Chris Haslam, Cooper Wilt, Daewon Song, Greg Lutzka, Rodney Mullen
Directed by: Matt Hill
Release date: 2004-01-01
12.

Ryan

3.9
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Ryan is a 2004 animated documentary by Chris Landreth about the Canadian animator Ryan Larkin, who in later years lived on skid row in Montreal following a history of drug and alcohol abuse.
Starring: Ryan Larkin, Chris Landreth, Felicity Fanjoy, Derek Lamb
Directed by: Chris Landreth
Release date: 2004-01-01
13.

Satoyama: Japan's Secret Watergarden

3.8
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Each home has a built in pool or water tank that lies partly inside, partly outside its’ walls… A continuous stream of spring water is piped right into a basin, so freshwater is always available. People rinse out pots in the tank and clean their freshly picked vegetables. If they simply pour the food scraps back in the water, they risk polluting the whole village supply. However, carp can scour out even the greasy or burnt pans. They do the washing up in Satoyama villages. This traditional arrangement is called the riverside method. It’s used all over Japan. Cleaned up by the carp, the tank water eventually rejoins the channel.
Starring: David Attenborough
Directed by: Masumi Mizunuma
Release date: 2004-07-01
14.

In the Realms of the Unreal

3.8
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In the Realms of the Unreal is a documentary about the reclusive Chicago-based artist Henry Darger. Henry Darger was so reclusive that when he died his neighbors were surprised to find a 15,145-page manuscript along with hundreds of paintings depicting The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glodeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Cased by the Child Slave Rebellion.
Starring: Henry Darger, Larry Pine, Dakota Fanning, Frier McCollister, Wally Wingert
Directed by: Jessica Yu
Release date: 2004-01-01
15.

The White Diamond

3.8
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This 2004 documentary by Werner Herzog diaries the struggle of a passionate English inventor to design and test a unique airship during its maiden flight above the jungle canopy.
Starring: Werner Herzog, Graham Dorrington, Annette Scheurich
Directed by: Werner Herzog
Release date: 2004-11-13
16.

911 in Plane Site

3.7
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The public was not given all of the facts surrounding the worst terrorist attack in the United States of America's history.
Directed by: William Lewis
Release date: 2004-01-01
17.

Aaliyah: So Much More Than a Woman

3.6
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The life story of Aaliyah, a worldwide-famous singer, actress and model who first rose to stardom in the 90s at age 15 and was later killed in a plane crash in 2001.
Starring: Aaliyah
Directed by: Collina Greenwell
Release date: 2004-06-15
18.

Mondovino

3.6
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Mondovino (in Italian: World of Wine) is a 2004 documentary film on the impact of globalization on the world's different wine regions written and directed by American film maker Jonathan Nossiter. It was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and a César Award. The film explores the impact of globalization on the various wine-producing regions, and the influence of critics like Robert Parker and consultants like Michel Rolland in defining an international style. It pits the ambitions of large, multinational wine producers, in particular Robert Mondavi, against the small, single estate wineries who have traditionally boasted wines with individual character driven by their terroir.
Directed by: Jonathan Nossiter
Release date: 2004-01-01
19.

The Rise & Fall of Penn Station

3.6

In 1910, the Pennsylvania Railroad successfully accomplished the enormous engineering feat of building tunnels under New York City's Hudson and East Rivers, connecting the railroad to New York and New England, knitting together the entire eastern half of the United States. The tunnels terminated in what was one of the greatest architectural achievements of its time, Pennsylvania Station. Penn Station covered nearly eight acres, extended two city blocks, and housed one of the largest public spaces in the world. But just 53 years after the station’s opening, the monumental building that was supposed to last forever, to herald and represent the American Empire, was slated to be destroyed.

Starring: Michael Murphy
Directed by: Randall MacLowry
Release date: 2004-02-18
20.

What the #$*! Do We (K)now!?

3.5

Amanda (Marlee Maitlin) is a divorced woman who makes a living as a photographer. During the Fall of the year Amanda begins to see the world in new and different ways when she begins to question her role in life, her relationships with her career and men and what it all means. As the layers to her everyday experiences fall away insertions in the story with scientists, and philosophers and religious leaders impart information directly to an off-screen interviewer about academic issues, and Amanda begins to understand the basis to the quantum world beneath. During her epiphany as she considers the Great Questions raised by the host of inserted thinkers, Amanda slowly comprehends the various inspirations and begins to see the world in a new way.

Starring: Marlee Matlin, Elaine Hendrix, Robert Blanche, John Ross Bowie, Robert Bailey Jr.
Directed by: William Arntz, Betsy Chasse
Release date: 2004-04-23

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