The best documentaries on Netflix right now

The best documentaries on Netflix right now

Want to take a break from movies and series? When it comes to documentaries, nature, historical and crime are the most common themes of the genre, but there's so more out there. Our selection of the best documentaries on Netflix brings you a good dose of suspense, drama and fun.

Pamela, a love story

Pamela Anderson: A Love Story is an intimate and human portrait of one of the sexiest, and most famous blondes in the world. The film follows the trajectory of Pam's life and career from her beginnings as a simple country girl to the ultimate sex symbol of the 1990s, without neglecting her roles as an actress, activist and mother. Drawing together material from her diaries and personal recordings, Pamela tells the story of her rise to fame, her turbulent romances and the scandal of the leaked sex tape with her then husband, Tommy Lee, which was recently the subject of the Disney+ series 'Pam and Tommy'. Unlike the series, however, this time it's Anderson herself who describes how she lived through that painful episode, how she was treated by the industry in the 90s and early 2000s and how she feels about it all now. Pamela Anderson, a love story' offers a unique and very personal portrait of a woman who refused to be brought down by the overt misogyny of the 90s, and an industry that has a reputation for chewing up and spitting out hopeful starlets by the dozen. 

Length: 112 min.

Director: Ryan White

Featuring: Pamela Anderson, Fran Drescher, Tommy Lee, David Hasselhoff, Alexandra Paul, David Charvet


In this heartwarming documentary, actor Jonah Hill invites us on an insightful journey into the mind of his therapist, Phil Stutz. Although at the beginning of the film we think that it will be the actor himself who will unveil his life, the roles are reversed when we become aware of Hill's true purpose: "I'm making a film about you, not about me". The comedian chooses not to focus on his problems, but turns the spotlight onto his Stutz, one of America's leading psychiatrists and psychologists who suffers from Parkinson's. Despite the disease, Stutz endeavours to share his techniques and wisdom via this documentary. According to Stutz, anyone can change their emotional state if they take their unpleasant experiences and thoughts and transform them into opportunities. A method that the psychiatrist himself, Jonah Hill, and hundreds of other patients have sucessfully used to improve their lives.

Length: 96 min.

Director: Jonah Hill

Featuring: Jonah Hill, Phil Stutz

Our Father

This sober documentary tells the story of the now-famous case of Donald Cline, an American fertility specialist who used his own sperm to inseminate hundreds of his patients over decades, without their consent or knowledge. With the recent rise in popularity of at-home DNA testing kits, the shocking scope of Cline's abuse slowly came to light. Today, he is known to have fathered almost 100 biological children. The documentary covers not only the how and when of this abuse of a medical practice, but reveals the suffering that this has wrought on the families, in many cases transformed their lives and identities. It also examines the legal loopholes that allowed Cline, and other practicioners in similar cases, to go unpunished. For now, Cline walks free of civil and criminal charges, while the true number of his progeny is yet unknown. 

Length: 97 min.

Director: Lucie Jourdan

Featuring: Donald Cline

The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes

The story of Norma Jeane Mortenson, better know as Marilyn Monroe, is hardly an obscure piece of Hollywood history. Since her untimely death in 1962, the iconic blonde bombshell has been subject of countless photographs, books, articles, and films, so what more could there possibly be to say?  The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unreleased Tapes, a documentary directed by Emma Cooper (who also created a docuseries about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann) attempts to answer the question that has always tormented the film industry and thousands of Marilyn fans: was the cause of death of the Men Prefer Blondes actress really suicide, or was it a crime perpetrated from the highest echelons of power? Thanks to never-seen-before testimonies, recorded telephone conversations from the actress's tapped phones, and a reconstruction of Monroe's last days, this film aims to put an end to one of the best kept secrets in Hollywood history.

Length: 101 min.

Director: Emma Cooper

Featuring: Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, John F. Kennedy, Ray Bull, CJ Johnson, Sorrel Johnson, Andre Lillis, Michael Matus, Shelagh McLeod. 

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold

Our next pick a documentary about the life and work of one of the most important American writers of the 20th century. The documentary begins with images of San Francisco, the city to which Didion returned in 1967, after nine years in New York where she worked for Vogue magazine. It was in San Francisco that the author encountered the world of counterculture, hippies and ecstasy, phenomena that she described as no one had ever done before. Didion went on to become one of the key voices of her generation, addressing the second half of the twentieth century in the United States. Her privileged position allowed her to interview the Black Panthers, Linda Kasabian, during the trial that put the Manson family in the dock after the Cielo Drive crimes, as well as attending the recording of the Doors' third album and rubbing elbows with artists of the stature of Janis Joplin. All this, plus intimate moments of from the writer's family life, make Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold a must-see film for literature lovers.

Length: 97 min.

Director: Griffin Dunne

Featuring: Joan Didion, Hilton Als, David Hare, Phyllis Rifield, Amy Robinson, Shelley Wanger

The Tinder Swindler

Through three connected stories, this two-hour documentary shows us each of the faces of Simon Leviev, the fake 'Prince of Diamonds' who posed as an ultra-wealthy heir on Tinder, in order to meet, seduce, and extort women. There is an element of hate-watch to this documentary, which reveals a deeply narcissistic character with such a large sense of entitlement, he thinks nothing of destroying other people to live out his grandiose lifestyle dreams. Yet despite being heartbroken and hoodwinked, the three victims interviewed for the documentary reveal a strength of character and in some cases, nerves of steel that allow them to extract a little revenge against Leviev, as satisfying for the viewer as the women themselves. 

Length: 114 min.

Director: Felicity Morris

Featuring: Simon Leviev, Cecilie Fjellhøy, Pernilla Sjöholm, Ayleen Charlotte

My Octopus Teacher

Directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed, this unusual documentary film tells the very tender and touching story of an octopus and a human being. The human in question is South African Craig Foster, who after meeting the cephalopod during a regular dive, overcame his urge to throw it in the pot and serve it with white wine and decided, instead, to visit it every day for a year. What began as a whim turned into an obsession to gain the trust of this intelligent creature and form a connection that went far beyond all expectations.

Length: 85 min.

Director: Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed

Featuring: Craig Foster

Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese

Between 1975 and 1976, Bob Dylan, one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century in arguably the prime of his creative life, led a tour across the United States which was quite unlike the norm of the time. Inspired by the 16th century Italian Commedia dell'arte and its traveling groups, and by the Medicine Shows that toured the North American country at the beginning of the 20th century, the result was the mythical Rolling Thunder Revue. Dylan alongside musicians such as Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Roger McGuinn (leader of The Byrds), folk singer-songwriter Ramblin' Jack Elliot and guitarists like Mick Ronson and T-Bone Burnett performed in small venues that toured cities on the east coast of the United States and Canada. The best part? The tour was recorded by none other than directorial genius, Martin Scorsese. But while this production may be filed under 'documentary', there is more than a hint of mischevious creative re-telling, giving the already legendary tour an extra layer of magic and fantasy. 

Length: 142 min.

Director: Martin Scorsese

Featuring: Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg, Joan Baez, Jack Elliott, Sam Shepard, David Mansfield, Sharon Stone, Ronnie Hawkins

A Secret Love

When Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel first met in the 1940s, being an out lesbian couple  in America was unthinkable, and dangerous. Homosexuality was still a crime, and raids on lesbian and gay bars were frequent, often resulting in imprisonment, or worse, for their victims. It's no surprise then, that couple chose to live their love story completely in secret. For decades (the couple have been together for nearly 70 years), they presented themselves as cousins, a habit which they find hard to break, even while being interviewed for this moving documentary. The women describe the difficulties and challenges they faced as a same-sex couple in a time that simply existing could mean jeapordising their entire lives and families, yet never waver in their love for one another. As Donahue puts it "No regrets. I'd do it all over again". 

Length: 83 min.

Director: Chris Bolan

Featuring: Terry Donahue, Pat Henschel, Diana Bolan, Kim Donahue, Tammy Donahue, Jack Xagas, John Byrd, John Sorenson, Yvonne Zipter, Marge Summit, Tracy Baim, Jeff Samburg.