Long before streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu started releasing documentaries, HBO set the genre’s gold standard.
Below are the 15 best HBO Documentaries of all time listed in alphabetical order.
At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal (2019) – In 2016, Rachel Denhollander publicly accused USA Gymnastics national team doctor Larry Nassar of sexual misconduct. Her report would empower over 300 women to come forward with their own stories, each one a victim of Nassar’s inappropriate medical “treatments” over a 13 year period. Culling together footage of Nassar, clips from the court hearings, and interviews with the victims, “At the Heart of Gold” is an alarming tale that examines muddled notions of right and wrong, while also providing an empowering precedent for the #Metoo movement a few months after.
Baltimore Rising (2017) – Most of us probably remember what occurred during the Baltimore protests in 2016. But “Baltimore Rising” is something altogether different, capturing the city after 25-year-old black man Freddie Gray died while in police custody. For those who envision the Baltimore riots as if they were an apocalyptic movie scene—the initial scenes will not necessarily disprove this dystopian imagery—”Baltimore Rising” will expose viewers to the greater picture of the aftermath, providing a nuanced perspective of an event that shook the social and political landscape of the country.
Beware the Slenderman (2016) – On May 31, 2014, two twelve-year-old girls took their best friend to the woods and stabbed her 19 times, acting under the delusion that they might appease an internet meme known as Slenderman. Irene Taylor Brodsky’s chilling documentary uses court footage, family and friend interviews, criminal investigation interrogation videos, and deep-dives on internet forums to show the origin of the girls’ beliefs and their budding plans.
Boy Interrupted (2019) – In an emotional collection of personal footage, filmmaker Dana Perry guides us through the life of her bipolar son leading up to his suicide at the age of fifteen. The documentary, titled after the acclaimed novel “Girl, Interrupted,” is a front-row seat to the progression of mental health.
Everything is Copy—Nora Ephron: Scripted & Unscripted (2015) – Some people seem to live a hundred lives, and they are the ones who make the best documentary subjects. “Everything is Copy” details Nora Ephron’s life, career, and relationships, as captured by her eldest son—who interviewed her closest cohorts. The love shown for Ephron by each friend, confidant, and editor is interspersed with interviews of Ephron herself, as well as clips from her films from “Heartburn” to “Harry Met Sally” to “Julie & Julia.”
See the rest of the list at Esquire.
Receive the day’s documentary news every morning. Sign up for DocumentaryNews Daily.