15 Greatest Documentaries On Hulu14 min read

A few decade into its existence, Hulu turned a serious participant on the earth of nonfiction cinema, releasing a few of the finest documentaries completely on its streaming platform. Since debuting its first authentic documentary acquisition in 2016, with Ron Howard’s The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, Hulu has acquired quite a few accolades. These embody a number of Academy Award nominations within the Greatest Documentary Characteristic class and even an Oscar win for Summer time of Soul. Hulu’s documentaries have additionally accomplished effectively on the Emmys and the Grammys.

Moreover, Hulu options many nice documentaries in its library that aren’t Hulu originals. By its partnership with Disney, which owns a majority stake within the streamer, Hulu is one other place moreover Disney+ to seek out Nationwide Geographic Documentary Movies picks, together with extra Academy Award nominees and winners. Whereas the platform is missing in documentaries from earlier than the twenty first century, Hulu greater than makes up for its recency focus by showcasing most of the finest documentaries from the late 2010s and early 2020s, a few of which may very well be thought of fashionable classics.

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15 Cocaine Cowboys (2006)

Jon Roberts interviewed in Cocaine Cowboys

It isn’t probably the most acclaimed documentary, neither is it the best-looking, and it by no means gained any awards like many others on Hulu, however Cocaine Cowboys is a landmark movie and simply as important as the rest on lists recommending content material for followers of nonfiction. Few documentaries have the type of life that Cocaine Cowboys has. Directed by Barry Corben, who has since turn out to be a dependable supply of Florida-based documentary tales, and fittingly scored by Jan Hammer of Miami Vice fame, the sensational first Cocaine Cowboys movie focuses on Miami drug trafficker Jon Roberts and the drug battle of the ’70s and ’80s. It is a wildly fascinating and fairly violent historical past.

The unique Cocaine Cowboys spawned a sequel, a restricted collection spinoff, and an prolonged model, as demand for the movie and extra tales of associated criminals has continued for nearly twenty years (Cocaine Cowboys II: Hustlin’ with the Godmother and Cocaine Cowboys: Reloaded are each additionally on Hulu, whereas the collection, Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami, is unique to Netflix). There have even been makes an attempt at branding different documentaries as Cocaine Cowboys sequels in different nations as was the case of Matthew Cooke’s 2012 movie Easy methods to Make a Residing Promoting Medicine (aka Cocaine Cowboys 3). This all goes to indicate the recognition and cultural significance of Corben’s creation.

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14 The Cave (2019)

Dr. Amani Ballour walking a child through the hallway in The Cave (2019)

Feras Fayyad’s Oscar-nominated movie The Cave is out there as among the finest documentaries on Hulu by the streamer’s partnership with fellow Disney model Nationwide Geographic. The harrowing and purposefully hard-to-watch characteristic follows Dr. Amani Ballour as she operates a makeshift underground hospital through the Syrian Civil Warfare. Like Fayyad’s earlier, additionally Oscar-nominated documentary, Final Males in Aleppo, The Cave offers viewers a first-hand expertise of the battle and the heroes attempting to save lots of harmless lives. It is hopeful in its show of humanity but additionally heartbreaking in its depiction of the other.

13 The Cove (2009)

Ric O'Barry in the water with a dolphin in The Cove

The Cove did not make as a lot of an influence on the Japanese dolphin fishing business as was meant, nor as initially thought, however sadly few concern movies make an enormous distinction on the earth. As a documentary, this Oscar-winner continues to be an entertaining have a look at the mission to reveal dolphin searching in addition to the disturbing reveal of that marketing campaign’s outcomes, enjoying like a real-life spy movie. Whereas following the activists of their engrossing effort to covertly doc the dolphin slaughter in Taiji — with help from visible results artists who labored for Industrial Gentle and Magic to create particular hidden cameras — The Cove no less than raised consciousness.

12 The Rescue (2021)

Image inside the cave from the documentary The Rescue

Whereas many filmmakers have a number of nice documentaries streaming on Hulu, solely the married duo of Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin have two options that make the checklist of one of the best of one of the best. Whereas the opposite one is an Oscar winner, The Rescue needed to accept only a nomination. The documentary covers the Tham Luang cave rescue of 2018, a true story that additionally impressed the drama 13 Lives, amongst different movies. Whereas The Rescue confronted challenges attributable to competing tasks proudly owning the rights to specific narratives, it managed to be probably the most thrilling attributable to the way it seamlessly interweaved recreations with the true footage accessible.

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11 Aftershock (2022)

protesters in the 2022 documentary Aftershock

Usually, the worth of a documentary is in how the movie is about its topic relatively than simply the topic alone. Nevertheless, whereas Hulu’s Aftershock is greater than adequately put collectively by administrators Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee, the content material of this essential documentary is the explanation to see it, each when it comes to its members and the devastating tales and data they supply. The reality is that Aftershock, which addresses the rise in maternal mortality within the U.S., significantly amongst girls of colour, could be worse if it wasn’t such a easy documentary in its kind. Anything would have been pointless and subsequently distractingly overdone.

10 Fireplace Of Love (2022)

where to watch fire of love movie

What would a documentary from Wes Anderson seem like? The Oscar-nominated Fireplace of Love presents a touch due to its topics: married volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft. Collectively, they have been just like the Jacques Cousteau of their space of research, making them good candidates for a Life Aquatic-esque narrative characteristic (there’s really a dramatic remake of Fireplace of Love already within the works). Narrated by Miranda July and that includes an otherworldly rating by Air’s Nicolas Godin, the movie is anchored by tons of magnificent footage shot by the Kraffts, up till their tragic demise on the job. Fireplace of Love is stuffed with romance and journey whereas additionally being fairly instructional.

9 Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room (2005)

The poster for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.

Initially launched earlier than Hulu even existed, this Oscar-nominated documentary put its now-famous and extremely prolific director, Alex Gibney, on the map. It additionally helped to pioneer a sure type of political- and true crime-focused documentary that Gibney nonetheless does finest, the place difficult tales and complicated data are introduced in a riveting style. Enron: The Smartest Guys within the Room adapts the e-book of the identical identify to chronicle the scandalous downfall of the titular vitality company, and because of the filmmaker’s compelling execution, the documentary wound up being a shock theatrical hit, grossing nearly $5 million off a finances of simply $700,000.

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8 MLK/FBI (2020)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in MLK/FBI.

From Oscar-nominated director Sam Pollard (co-director of Spike Lee’s 4 Little Ladies), MLK/FBI is an important work of historic documentary, among the many finest that Hulu at present has to supply. The movie chronicles the work of civil rights chief Martin Luther King Jr. with newly declassified paperwork informing of how he was underneath surveillance and being harassed by the FBI throughout this time. It was near-unanimously praised by critics leading to a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. As an editor-turned-filmmaker, Pollard does an distinctive job piecing collectively a compelling story from all of the assets at hand.

7 Collective (2019)


Alexander Nanau’s Collective had the uncommon distinction of being nominated in each the Greatest Documentary Characteristic and Greatest Worldwide Movie classes on the Academy Awards whereas additionally changing into the primary Romanian movie honored with an Oscar nomination. The movie highlights the continued significance of journalists by following reporters for the Gazeta Sporturilor newspaper as they uncover authorities corruption following the Colletiv nightclub hearth of 2015. Nanau presents these journalists’ protection and discoveries about Romania’s mishandled healthcare system because it occurred, giving it the texture of a thriller. Given all that is uncovered within the documentary, Collective performs even scarier within the years since its launch because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

6 Free Solo (2018)

A scene from Free Solo with Alex Honnold climbing El Capitan, shot from above

Winner of the Oscar for Greatest Documentary Characteristic, Free Solo is a remarkably tense movie about Alex Honnold’s climb of El Capitan in Yosemite Nationwide Park — with out the assist of ropes, harnesses, or different protecting tools. Whereas there are many documentaries about rock and mountaineering and even free solo achievements, this one stands out partly due to its consideration to the character-driven story and what makes Honnold so decided to perform such a harmful feat. There’s additionally the spectacular cinematography, led by co-director Jimmy Chin, who’s a climber himself and who goes to nice lengths to seize the majesty and mastery of El Capitan.

5 Apollo 11 (2019)

astronaut on the Moon in the documentary Apollo 11

Even with its inclusion of beforehand unseen 70mm footage, Apollo 11 had the problem of interesting to audiences aware of one of many biggest and most well-documented occasions of all time. Amazingly, Todd Douglas Miller’s Emmy-winning movie proved partaking regardless of its generally depicted topic, the 1969 Apollo 11 launch and Moon touchdown, sufficient to be among the finest documentaries on Hulu by the streamer’s partnership with Neon. Apollo 11 is a brilliantly edited characteristic compiled solely from archival footage, requiring no narration, interviews, or different new materials to complement what was shot within the second, making the occasion really feel as contemporary because it did 50 years earlier.

4 Minding The Hole (2018)

A character looking forlorn in Minding the Gap

Hulu acquired its first Oscar nomination for Greatest Documentary Characteristic with Minding the Hole, which additionally marked the characteristic directorial debut of Bing Liu. This private, semi-autobiographical effort makes use of residence video footage and interviews to chronicle a narrative of three associates — together with Liu — who grew up skating collectively in Rockford, Illinois. Greater than a easy coming-of-age movie about these particular younger males, who’re additionally revealed to have survived abusive houses, Minding the Hole touches on numerous broader themes corresponding to systemic racism and fashionable concepts of masculinity. It is a considerate and heartfelt documentary that rightfully has an ideal 100% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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3 Flee (2021)

Amin looks down in Flee (2021)

Out there on Hulu by a streaming cope with its distributor, Neon, Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee is an animated documentary presenting an emotional true story of a homosexual refugee from Afghanistan. The movie chronicles the lifetime of its nameless narrator as he recounts his flight from his native nation as a toddler and eventual settlement as a refugee in Denmark. Flee was the primary ever movie to obtain Oscar nominations for Greatest Documentary Characteristic, Greatest Animated Characteristic, and Greatest Worldwide Characteristic. Whereas it misplaced in all three classes (the primary one to the following documentary on this checklist), it deserves to be watched, in all probability with a field of tissues at hand.

2 Summer time Of Soul (2021)

Sly Stone talking to a crowd In Summer Of Soul

The filmmaking debut of musician Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Summer time of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Might Not Be Televised) is a documentary that was collectively acquired by Hulu and Searchlight Footage following its acclaimed Sundance premiere. The movie went on to brush its six classes on the 2021 Critics Selection Documentary Awards and later gained the Oscar for Greatest Documentary Characteristic. Summer time of Soul presents beforehand unseen footage from the 1969 Harlem Cultural Competition, nevertheless it’s greater than only a nostalgic live performance movie with a terrific, Grammy-winning soundtrack, because it supplies wealthy historic context in regards to the performers, their songs, and the period, relating all of it to a contemporary perspective.

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1 Man On Wire (2008)

Man on Wire

Not solely is James Marsh’s Man on Wire one of the best documentary accessible to stream on Hulu, nevertheless it’s one of many biggest documentaries ever made. The Oscar-winning movie could seem extra commonplace right now in its construction and magnificence, particularly for its use of sure orchestral items by Erik Satie and Edvard Grieg, nevertheless it’s nonetheless an ideal specimen of its kind. Man on Wire was one of many first documentaries to be beneficial by critics as enjoying out like a “narrative” characteristic, particularly one within the heist movie style. It is positively an entertaining biography with an exhilarating tempo, ensuing within the documentary being a success on the field workplace.

With its mixture of well-produced dramatizations and archival footage centered round an interview with its charming fundamental topic, Philippe Petit, the documentary immerses the viewers in its storytelling. Man on Wire builds to a spectacular telling of Petit’s well-known 1974 high-wire stroll between the Twin Towers. Greater than that, the movie stands out for its deeper which means. Launched simply seven years after 9/11, Man on Wire pays tribute to the fallen buildings of the World Commerce Middle and to a New York Metropolis of a bygone period. Whereas it is not unique to Hulu, Man on Wire is certainly one of the best documentary the streaming service has to supply.

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