Best Documentary Movies of 2014

1.

Citizenfour

5.8

In June 2013, Laura Poitras and reporter Glenn Greenwald flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with Edward Snowden. She brought her camera with her. The film that resulted from this series of tense encounters is absolutely sui generis in the history of cinema: a 100% real-life thriller unfolding minute by minute before our eyes. Poitras is a great and brave filmmaker, but she is also a masterful storyteller: she compresses the many days of questioning, waiting, confirming, watching the world’s reaction and agonizing over the next move, into both a great character study of Snowden and a narrative that will leave you on the edge of your seat as it inexorably moves toward its conclusion.

Starring: Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, William Binney, Barack Obama
Directed by: Laura Poitras
Release date: 2014-10-24
2.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

5.8

Follow the shocking, yet humorous, journey of an aspiring environmentalist, as he daringly seeks to find the real solution to the most pressing environmental issues and true path to sustainability.

Starring: Kip Andersen
Directed by: Keegan Kuhn, Kip Andersen
Release date: 2014-07-01
3.

Finding Vivian Maier

5.6

Vivian Maier's photos were seemingly destined for obscurity, lost among the clutter of the countless objects she'd collected throughout her life. Instead these images have shaken the world of street photography and irrevocably changed the life of the man who brought them to the public eye. This film brings to life the interesting turns and travails of the improbable saga of John Maloof's discovery of Vivian Maier, unravelling this mysterious tale through her documentary films, photographs, odd collections and personal accounts from the people that knew her. What started as a blog to show her work quickly became a viral sensation in the photography world. Photos destined for the trash heap now line gallery exhibitions, a forthcoming book and this documentary film.

Starring: Vivian Maier, John Maloof, Daniel Arnaud, Simon Amédé, Maren Baylaender
Directed by: John Maloof, Charlie Siskel
Release date: 2014-03-28
4.

Life Itself

5.5

Life Itself recounts the surprising and entertaining life of renowned film critic and social commentator Roger Ebert. The film details his early days as a freewheeling bachelor and Pulitzer Prize winner, his famously contentious partnership with Gene Siskel, his life-altering marriage, and his brave and transcendent battle with cancer.

Starring: Roger Ebert, Werner Herzog, Martin Scorsese, Errol Morris, Ava DuVernay
Directed by: Steve James
Release date: 2014-07-04
5.

Fed Up

5.4

Fed Up blows the lid off everything we thought we knew about food and weight loss, revealing a 30-year campaign by the food industry, aided by the U.S. government, to mislead and confuse the American public, resulting in one of the largest health epidemics in history.

Starring: Katie Couric, Michael Pollan, Bill Clinton, Tom Vilsack, Kelly Brownell
Directed by: Stephanie Soechtig
Release date: 2014-05-09
6.

Roger Waters: The Wall

4.4

A concert film that the former Pink Floyd singer-songwriter made on various tour dates between 2010 and 2013, when he was playing his former group's 1980 double-album in its entirety.

Starring: Roger Waters, Dave Kilminster, Graham Broad, Snowy White, Jon Carin
Directed by: Sean Evans, Roger Waters
Release date: 2014-09-29
7.

That Sugar Film

4.4

One man's journey to discover the bitter truth about sugar. Damon Gameau embarks on a unique experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body, consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as 'healthy'. Through this entertaining and informative journey, Damon highlights some of the issues that plague the sugar industry, and where sugar lurks on supermarket shelves.

Starring: Damon Gameau, Brenton Thwaites, Isabel Lucas, Stephen Fry, Jessica Marais
Directed by: Damon Gameau
Release date: 2014-07-31
8.

Valley Uprising

4.3

In the shady campgrounds of Yosemite valley, climbers carved out a counterculture lifestyle of dumpster-diving and wild parties that clashed with the conservative values of the National Park Service. And up on the walls, generation after generation has pushed the limits of climbing, vying amongst each other for supremacy on Yosemite's cliffs. "Valley Uprising" is the riveting, unforgettable tale of this bold rock climbing tradition in Yosemite National Park: half a century of struggle against the laws of gravity -- and the laws of the land.

Starring: Peter Sarsgaard, Alex Honnold, Royal Robbins, Lynn Hill, Dean Potter
Directed by: Nick Rosen, Josh Lowell, Peter Mortimer
Release date: 2014-09-01
9.

Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me

4.3

A documentary film detailing Glen Campbell's final tour and his struggle with Alzheimer's disease.

Starring: Glen Campbell, Kim Campbell, Ashley Campbell, Jay Leno, Jimmy Webb
Directed by: James Keach
Release date: 2014-04-24
10.

Virunga

4.3

Virunga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is Africa’s oldest national park, a UNESCO world heritage site, and a contested ground among insurgencies seeking to topple the government that see untold profits in the land. Among this ongoing power struggle, Virunga also happens to be the last natural habitat for the critically endangered mountain gorilla. The only thing standing in the way of the forces closing in around the gorillas: a handful of passionate park rangers and journalists fighting to secure the park’s borders and expose the corruption of its enemies. Filled with shocking footage, and anchored by the surprisingly deep and gentle characters of the gorillas themselves, Virunga is a galvanizing call to action around an ongoing political and environmental crisis in the Congo.

Starring: André Bauma, Emmanuel de Merode, Mélanie Gouby, Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo, Vianney Kazarama
Directed by: Orlando von Einsiedel
Release date: 2014-11-07
11.

Merchants of Doubt

4.2

Spin doctors spread misinformation and confusion among American citizens to delay progress on such important issues as global climate change.

Starring: Patricia Callahan, Matthew Crawford, Stanton A. Glantz, Katharine Heyhoe
Directed by: Robert Kenner
Release date: 2014-11-08
12.

Alive Inside

4.2
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Five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease and dementia—many of them alone in nursing homes. A man with a simple idea discovers that songs embedded deep in memory can ease pain and awaken these fading minds. Joy and life are resuscitated, and our cultural fears over aging are confronted.
Starring: Oliver Sacks, Bobby McFerrin
Directed by: Michael Rossato-Bennett
Release date: 2014-01-18
13.

She's Beautiful When She's Angry

4.2

A documentary that resurrects the buried history of the outrageous, often brilliant women who founded the modern women's movement from 1966 to 1971.

Directed by: Mary Dore
Release date: 2014-12-05
14.

Last Days in Vietnam

4.1

During the chaotic final weeks of the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese Army closes in on Saigon as the panicked South Vietnamese people desperately attempt to escape. On the ground, American soldiers and diplomats confront a moral quandary: whether to obey White House orders to evacuate only U.S. citizens.

Directed by: Rory Kennedy
Release date: 2014-09-05
15.

Atari: Game Over

4.1
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The Xbox Originals documentary that chronicles the fall of the Atari Corporation through the lens of one of the biggest mysteries of all time, dubbed “The Great Video Game Burial of 1983.” Rumor claims that millions of returned and unsold E.T. cartridges were buried in the desert, but what really happened there?
Starring: Nolan Bushnell, Howard Scott Warshaw, Manny Gerard, Joe Lewandowski, Paul Sanchez
Directed by: Zak Penn
Release date: 2014-11-19
16.

The Battered Bastards of Baseball

4.1

Hollywood veteran Bing Russell creates the only independent baseball team in the country—alarming the baseball establishment and sparking the meteoric rise of the 1970s Portland Mavericks.

Starring: Kurt Russell, Todd Field
Directed by: Chapman Way, Maclain Way
Release date: 2014-01-20
17.

The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young

4.1
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In its first 25 years only 10 people have finished The Barkley Marathons. Based on a historic prison escape, this cult like race tempts people from around the world to test their limits of physical and mental endurance in this documentary that contemplates the value of pain.
Directed by: Annika Iltis, Timothy James Kane
Release date: 2014-10-26
18.

Night Will Fall

4.1

When Allied forces liberated the Nazi concentration camps in 1944-45, their terrible discoveries were recorded by army and newsreel cameramen, revealing for the first time the full horror of what had happened. Making use of British, Soviet and American footage, the Ministry of Information’s Sidney Bernstein (later founder of Granada Television) aimed to create a documentary that would provide lasting, undeniable evidence of the Nazis’ unspeakable crimes. He commissioned a wealth of British talent, including editor Stewart McAllister, writer and future cabinet minister Richard Crossman – and, as treatment advisor, his friend Alfred Hitchcock. Yet, despite initial support from the British and US Governments, the film was shelved, and only now, 70 years on, has it been restored and completed by Imperial War Museums under its original title "German Concentration Camps Factual Survey".

Starring: Helena Bonham Carter, Jasper Britton, Toby Haggith, Sidney Bernstein, Alfred Hitchcock
Directed by: André Singer
Release date: 2014-06-07
19.

Mission Blue

4.1

Feature documentary about legendary oceanographer, marine biologist, environmentalist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle, and her campaign to create a global network of protected marine sanctuaries

Starring: James Cameron, Michael deGruy, Sylvia Earle, Bryce Groark, Jeremy Jackson
Directed by: Robert Nixon, Fisher Stevens
Release date: 2014-01-30
20.

The Weight of Chains 2

4.0
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'The Weight of Chains 2' is a documentary film largely dealing with the effects of the Washington Consensus economic doctrine on the newly established former Yugoslav republics, but also with neoliberalism as an economic concept. Through interviews with Noam Chomsky, Oliver Stone and many others, the author, Serbian-Canadian Boris Malagurski, attempts to analyze why so many people in the Balkans are disappointed with the systems imposed after the fall of socialism and how capitalism could be improved. Looking at the examples of Ecuador and Iceland, the film tries to uncover alternatives to the prevailing orthodoxies of Western economic dictates and help developing nations find their own way to shape their economies and their countries.
Starring: Boris Malagurski, Oliver Stone, Noam Chomsky, R. James Woolsey, Jr., Carla Del Ponte
Directed by: Boris Malagurski
Release date: 2014-11-25

Also check Best documentary movies of 2013.

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