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The Best Documentaries to Stream That Will Make You Laugh, Cry & Learn

From crime and sport, to music and food, theses are the best documentaries on Netflix you need to watch right now!

Looking for something to watch but feel guilty about going on a TV show streaming binge? As far as we're concerned, Netflix binges aren’t a guilty pleasure when you’re locking and loading thought-provoking, eye-opening documentaries. From tense sports dramas and shocking crime investigations, to globetrotting foodie adventures that’ll have you experimenting in the kitchen, these are our picks for the best documentaries on Netflix, Stan and iView. Take note!

The Best Documentaries to Stream: Australian Documentaries

In My Blood It Runs
In My Blood It Runs
In My Blood It Runs

This critically acclaimed documentary is told from the perspective on Duhuan, a clever and charismatic 10-year old Arrernte/Garrwa boy. The film documents his world and the challenges he faces on the streets of Alice Springs and as he tries to cling to his culture in a Western school. The film is about one family’s struggle as they fight for their boys future whilst trying to honour the past and ancient traditions.

Available on Netflix and ABC iView

Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds (Image Credit ABC)
Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds (Image Credit ABC)
Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds

Get ready to break out the tissues because this is the most heart-warming program on television. The 2019 winner of the AACTA for Best Documentary, Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds is a tale of friendship in it’s purest form. A class of pensioners and a class of four-year-olds will spend a month together, learning from each other and building beautiful friendships. Seriously this series is beyond beautiful.

Available on Stan and ABC iView

The Australian Dream (Image Credit: ABC)
The Australian Dream (Image Credit: ABC)
The Australian Dream

Learn more about the remarkable story of AFL legend Adam Goodes. This feature documentary takes you behind the headlines and delves deeper into the ideas of race, identity and belonging in modern day Australia.

Available on ABC iView

Maralinga Tjarutja (Image Credit: ABC)
Maralinga Tjarutja (Image Credit: ABC)
Maralinga Tjarutja

The Maralinga people are masters of survival, having held their own against aggressive colonisation, dispossession and even atomic testing. This is a story of indominable spirit and strength.

Available on ABC iView

Best Documentaries on Netflix and Stan: People and Society

Louis Theroux
Louis Theroux
Louis Theroux Collection

The man needs no introduction, Louis Theroux, armed with nothing but patience, square-rimmed glasses and a dry British sarcasm, has lifted the curtain on some of the strangest, least-understood corners of society. Investigating everything from gabling and addiction to Scientology and the Westboro Baptist Church, Louis Theroux has held a magnifying glass up to some of the most controversial aspects of society. If you’re looking for somewhere to start we recommend Weird Weekends a series where Theroux spends a weekend investigating subcultures from the world of professional to UFO hunters.

Available on Stan

The September Issue
The September Issue
The September Issue

Behind the trademark bob and sunglasses, who is Anna Wintour, the most powerful and polarising figure in fashion? The September Issue provides the public with a rare look into the inner workings of the iconic magazine, and the woman driving it, as they produce the most important issue of the year. Famous designers, models and photographers orbit Wintour as her forceful personality and perfectionism bring the magazine to life.

Available on Stan

Stacey Dooley (Image Credit BBC)
Stacey Dooley (Image Credit BBC)
Stacey Dooley Collection

With nine documentaries available on Stan, Stacey Dooley is the female answer to Louis Theroux with the same understanding patience and affable personality, Stacey Dooley Investigates the dark side of society from pro-life summer camps for kids to missing indigenous women in Canada. You’re guaranteed to learn something!

Available on Stan

The Meaning of Vanlife
The Meaning of Vanlife
The Meaning of Vanlife

If there’s one thing lockdown has made us all crave it’s travel. This documentary looks into a community of travellers, nomadic Vanlifers who make their home on the road. If you’ve ever been tempted to throw it all in and commit to a life on the road, this documentary is for you!

Available on Stan

Sherpa
Sherpa
Sherpa

Filmed in 2014, this Netflix documentary explores the riveting stories of the unsung heroes of Mount Everest treks: the Sherpas. Documenting the stories of the Himalayan guides who risk everything to support tourists climbing Everest. Exploring both their personal stories, the dangers and the moral dilemmas, this is a fascinating watch.

Available on Netflix

Babies (Image Credit Netflix)
Babies (Image Credit Netflix)
Babies

Adorable and educational? Sign us up! This docuseries follows fifteen babies through their first year of life as they learn and grow. Watch as they learn to crawl, walk, speak, love and learn the fascinating science behind it all.

Available on Netflix and YouTube

the goop lab with Gwyneth Paltrow

Challenging the norms of wellness, Gwyneth and her goop team dive into experimental and controversial health treatments and practices by speaking with experts and testing them out for themselves. Expect psychedelics and vulvas aplenty. 

Season 1 on Netflix

Our Planet
Our Planet
Our Planet

From the creator of "Planet Earth," this mesmerising series narrated by the legendary Sir David Attenborough, takes viewers on an unprecedented journey through some of the world's most precious natural habitats, exploring the unique wonders of nature in all its glory. 

Available on Netflix 

The Social Dilemma
The Social Dilemma
The Social Dilemma

This docu-drama brings together technology experts and leaders to discuss the rise of social networking and the impact it has had on our world and reality. Has social media brought us together or is it driving us apart? Watch the doco to dive deep into the issue.

Available on Netflix

Becoming

Detailing the life of the former first lady, Michelle Obama brings you in behind the scenes on her history-making book tour. It's an inspiring watch and will make you feel hopeful for the future.

Available on Netflix

Best Documentaries on Netflix: Crime

The Pharmacist
The Pharmacist
The Pharmacist

This is the story of Dan Schneider, a pharmacist who on a quest for justice. After his son died of a drug overdose, one man makes it his personal mission to save his community from the grips of the opioid crisis.

Available on Netflix

Making a Murderer
Making a Murderer
Making a Murderer

The murder doco that started it all, Netflix's Making a Murderer is now a bona fide cult classic and one of the best TV shows to stream online. The 20-episode series tells the story of Steven Avery as he’s put through numerous trials, and sentences for the death of Penny Beerntsen. Over the course of three decades he is wrongfully convicted, exonerated and then charged again, with his nephew Brendan Dassey sent to jail as an accessory to the crime. Navigating this roller coaster through firsthand accounts, police recordings, and interviews with Steven, Brendan and the family, it’s hard to believe that this story is non-fiction.

Seasons 1 & 2 available on Netflix 

The Staircase
The Staircase
The Staircase

Another gripping tale of violence, mystery and murder, The Staircase tells the real-life story of American novelist Michael Peterson and the murder of his wife Kathleen Peterson. Starting from Mr. Peterson’s indictment, the crew follow his defense attorneys and extended family throughout the court proceedings. Guaranteed to leave you wanting more, The Staircase is equal parts addictive and polarising.  Each episode will leave you in complete doubt, questioning what really happened on 9th December 2001.

Available on Netflix

Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich

One of the biggest news stories in recent times, this documentary details the life and crimes of notable Wall Street figure Jeffrey Epstein. With a plethora of interviews, anecdotes and personal accounts of those who were close to him, this is a gripping true story that illustrates money, power and corruption at its most volatile.

One season, four episodes

Tiger King

If you haven’t yet seen the docuseries everyone’s been talking about, you’re in for a wild ride. This crazy chronicle of lawless big cat breeder Joe Exotic’s life and crimes is a can’t-believe-what-you’re-seeing spectacle that has it all. From guns, money, and drugs, to polygamy, murder and all-out mayhem, backed up by a cast of eccentric characters, you won’t forget this doco anytime soon.

One season, Eight Episodes

Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez

He seemed to have it all – a dazzling NFL career, multi-million dollar salary and doting young family – making Aaron Hernandez’s sudden arrest for the shooting murder of a friend all the more shocking. This docuseries unravels his dark double life by unveiling a long history of violence, crime and personal tragedy. This crime documentary offers new insight into what might have motivated him to do the unthinkable.

One Season, Three Episodes

Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened

It was supposed to be the music festival of the century, an exclusive party for the rich and famous, but ended up being a nightmare served on a cold cheese sandwich. This gripping documentary forensically uncovers the scammers and grifters behind Fyre Festival, who used the allure of supermodels and Instagram stars to con cashed up millennials. The Greatest Party That Never Happened is one of the best documentaries on Netflix, if for no other reason than allowing us to relive the insanity all over again.

Feature-length Film: 1h 37min

Best Documentaries on Netflix: Sport

Athlete A
Athlete A
Athlete A

This documentary recounts the story of the elite USA gymnasts that survived the abuse of team doctor Larry Nassar. In the telling of this story, it highlights the toxic culture at USAG and how this systemic anti-whistleblower culture allowed their stories to be denied for so long. 

Feature-length Film: 1h 37min

The Last Dance

Whether or not you’re an NBA fanatic, this fascinating docuseries on one of the greatest athletes of all time is a must-watch. With the help of never before seen footage and hundreds of interviews, The Last Dance provides a definitive account of Michael Jordan’s career with the all-dominating 1990s Chicago Bulls as they manage intense fame, pressure and internal tensions in their quest for a sixth championship.

One Season, 10 Episodes

Formula 1: Drive to Survive

Formula 1 is often thought of as an esoteric sport that only interests motorheads and the rich – after all, what could be so thrilling about watching cars zoom around a circuit over and over again? As it turns out, a whole lot. Even if you don’t know your oversteer from your understeer, you’ll be sucked into the F1 world of speed, money and life-endangering risk, as cameras unveil the fierce rivalries and larger than life characters that drive this billionaire’s sport. 

Two Seasons, 20 Episodes

Cheer

Forget what you saw in Bring It On – the real world of competitive cheerleading is tough as nails, with tears, late nights and broken bones. Cheer takes viewers to the small town of Corsicana, Texas, where no-nonsense head coach Monica Aldama leads the unparalleled Navarro College cheer squad in their pursuit of the National Cheerleading Championship. Along the way she nurtures some unforgettable characters, many of whom have been rescued from difficult backgrounds, pushing them to flip, twist and stunt their way to glory.

One Season, Six Episodes

Best Documentaries on Netflix and Stan: Music

Searching for Sugar Man
Searching for Sugar Man
Searching for Sugar Man

The greatest rock icon that never was, Rodriguez made music that rung out like urban poetry. In America his career fell flat but in South Africa he was ‘more famous than Elvis’ and his rebellious recordings became the soundtrack to the rebellion against Apartheid. After he faded into oblivion and all sorts of myths about his disappearance clouded out the truth, a team from South Africa set about to find him. In a story where the truth is a million times better than the fiction, check out this story of a rock star rising from the ashes.

Available on Stan

20 Feet From Stardom
20 Feet From Stardom
20 Feet From Stardom

This inspiring documentary shines a light on the backup singers behind our greatest musical legends, from David Bowie to Ray Charles. Disappointment and exploitation feature in some of the more heartbreaking stories, while artistic triumph and a hand in history mark others. What unites all is unbelievable talent, passion and a desire to just sing.

Available on Stan

Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé

All hail Queen Bey! This behind-the-scenes look at Beyoncé’s journey to her unforgettable 2018 Coachella performance is intimate, illuminating, and confirms the superstar’s status as the hardest working person in entertainment. Charting the long process from creative concept to cultural moment, Homecoming reveals the emotional toll of a difficult pregnancy and the history that motivates her; interspersed with jaw-dropping footage from her two Coachella sets.

Feature-length Film: 2h 17m

Amy

Asif Kapadia’s moving portrait of the life, career and death of Amy Winehouse showed the world that despite the unending media coverage that hounded her, the public didn’t know the real Amy at all. Extensive archival footage and personal interviews reveal her precociousness, vulnerability and extraordinary talent, from her beginnings as a bright-eyed prodigy to a tortured global star. 

Feature-length Film: 2h 7m

Gaga: Five Foot Two

Beyond the meat dresses and wild stage performances, for most of her career people knew very little about the ‘real person’ behind Lady Gaga – Stefani Germanotta. This insightful doco chips away some of the mystery, following the superstar as she records her 2016 album Joanne and strives to present a more ‘stripped down’ version of herself, both publicly and artistically. The film delves into many personal topics like her breakup with longtime partner Taylor Kinney, chronic pain and family trauma. 

Feature-length Film: 1h 40m

Netflix
Netflix
Quincy

This Grammy award-winning documentary tells the story of music icon, Mr Quincy Jones  ̶  a record and film producer, instrumentalist, singer and 28-time Grammy award winner. Providing viewers with an intimate look inside his day-to-day life, Quincy also delves into the legend’s career defining moments, like his involvement in Michael Jackson’s Thriller and collaboration with Frank Sinatra. Essential viewing for any music fan, this is not only a documentary, but a homage to music history.

Feature-length Film: 2h 4m

Best Documentaries on Netflix: Food

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

This delightful four-part series follows author and chef Samrin Nosrat around the world as she enlightens viewers to the four fundamentals of good cooking – salt, fat, acid and heat. With humour and insatiable curiosity, she explores each through the lens of a country’s cuisine, from the fat in Italy’s cheese, meats and olive oil to Japan’s salty love affair with soy sauce and miso. Along the way, she meets lively characters and shares timeless recipes that will boost your confidence in the kitchen.

One Season, Four Episodes

Ugly Delicious

In Ugly Delicious, Momofuku’s swashbuckling founder and chef David Chang embarks on a mouthwatering cross-cultural hunt for the world’s most satisfying grub. Each episode he explores the cultural, sociological, and culinary history behind a beloved piece of tucker, be it dumplings, tacos, BBQ or fried chicken, inviting food-loving peers and celebs to ponder big questions while digging in. Our tip: don’t watch this while hungry!

Two Seasons, 12 Episodes

Chef’s Table

Chef’s Table changed the food doco game, introducing lush cinematography and gorgeous art direction never before seen in the genre. The series captures some of the most renowned chefs in the world, exploring their unique cooking styles, awe-inspiring creations and the personal histories that drive them. Australia even gets some love in episode five, which follows Ben Shewry of Melbourne restaurant Attica.

Six Seasons, 30 Episodes

Netflix
Netflix
The Chef Show 

This captivating cooking travelogue stars writer, director and food enthusiast Jon Favreau, alongside chef Roy Choi, who worked together on the movie Chef. The pair reunite to travel around the world celebrating different flavours and cultures, with a few notable chefs and celebrity friends who join them along the way, making it one of the best documentaries on Netflix. 

Three Seasons, 20 Episodes

Knocked over the best documentaries on Netflix and looking for more ways to pass the time at home? Try your hand at these creative Pinterest DIY projects, challenge a mate to these fun online games, or simply kick back with more binge-worthy TV shows and addictive podcasts.