The 37 Best Documentaries on Amazon Prime

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I absolutely love a good documentary, but with so many streaming options at my fingertips nowadays, I usually end up spending the majority of my night searching for what to watch, instead of actually just watching something. To get in more movie-watching and less searching, I've compiled a list of the best documentaries on Amazon Prime.

Whether it's a groovy musical exploration like Jonas Brothers: Chasing Dreams that you can sing or dance along to, a 100-minute special about how sugar affects the body (which I suspect some of us won't want to hear—myself included) or Star Wars Empire Of Dreams—the ultimate documentary for anyone who is major fan of the franchise, you'll walk away from these films thoroughly entertained and perhaps a little more knowledgable.

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1. 'Jonas Brothers: Chasing Happiness' (2019)

  • Run Time: 1 hour and 36 minutes

  • Cast/Who's In It: Nick, Joe and Kevin Jonas (aka the Jonas Brothers)

  • Director: John Lloyd Taylor

OK, it’s not every day we dedicate two hours to learning about the famed boy band, who recently reunited after splitting up back in 2013. However, if you’ve ever wondered how they went from wearing purity rings on The Disney Channel to achieving international stardom as adults, this documentary will take you through the good, the bad and the ugly. (Warning: Even haters will gain mad respect for the Jo Bros.) I've personally been a huge fan of the Jonas Brothers since I was a preteen, so I enjoyed getting a behind the scenes perspective on their fame and what a "normal" day in the life looks like for them.

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2. 'Dior And I' (2015)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 29 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Raf Simons, along with celebrity appearances by Marion Cotillard, Isabelle Huppert, Jennifer Lawrence and Sharon Stone

  • Director: Frédéric Tcheng

The film is written and directed by Frédéric Tcheng and immediately gained recognition when it first premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. It offers a behind-the-scenes look at the debut season of Christian Dior’s former creative director Raf Simons, who parted ways with the fashion house back in 2015. It’s a must-watch for fashion mavens. "I am obsessed with 'Dior and I.' It actually made me tear up, the collection Raf Simons shows at the end of the film is just so so stunning. That collection is one of my favorites ever shown," says PureWow editor Abby Hepworth. "It's a great documentary for anyone interested in fashion, whether you consider yourself a fashion historian or just like looking at beautiful clothes."

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3. 'Gleason' (2016)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 51 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Steve Gleason, Michel Varisco and Rivers Gleason

  • Director: Clay Tweel

Steve Gleason played for the New Orleans Saints before retiring in 2008. In 2011, he was diagnosed with ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease) at age 34. The doc follows the former NFL player as he battles the terminal illness, all while becoming an advocate for helping others adapt to unfortunate circumstances. While it’s unbelievably inspirational, it’s also a full-blown tearjerker (but still one of the best documentaries on Amazon Prime). You’ve been warned.

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4. 'The Act Of Killing' (2012)

  • Runtime 2 hour and 46 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Anwar Congo, Herman Koto and Syamsul Arifin

  • Director: Joshua Oppenheimer

The film gives an in-depth look at the people responsible for the mass killings that took place in Indonesia from 1965 to 1966. Not only was the movie nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the 2014 Academy Awards, but it was also ranked number 19 on the British Film Institute’s list of the best documentaries ever made. NBD.

Watch now on amazon prime

5. 'That Sugar Film' (2014)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 41 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Damon Gameau, along with celebrity appearances by Hugh Jackman, Stephen Fry and Zoë Gameau

  • Director: Damon Gameau

If you’ve ever wondered exactly how sugar affects the body, you’ve come to the right place. Similar to Super Size Me, the documentary follows Damon Gameau as he consumes a high-sugar diet for 30 days, and the results are astonishing. Oh, and did I mention that this was Australia’s highest-grossing documentary film until May 2023 when it was surpassed by John Farnham: Finding the Voice?

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6. 'Cropsey' (2009)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 24 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Joshua Zeman, Barbara Brancaccio and Bill Ellis

  • Director: Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio

As two Staten Island natives, filmmakers Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio grew up hearing about the story of Cropsey, a real-life boogeyman linked to the disappearance of five children. In an attempt to face their childhood fears, the pair investigate the murders and uncover spine-chilling details that will make you want to sleep with the light on.

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7. 'Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much' (2017)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 12 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Ted Slauson, Bob Barker and Roger Dobkowitz

  • Director: CJ Wallis

Think you’re capable of winning on The Price Is Right? Well, meet Ted Slauson, the man responsible for helping a contestant accurately guess every answer on a 2008 episode of the popular game show. (Seriously.) The film walks viewers through Slauson’s story, beginning with his childhood fascination with The Price Is Right and concluding with the strategy that went into his legendary win.

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8. 'Sriracha ' (2013)

  • Runtime 33 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? David Tran, Randy Clemens and Adam Holliday

  • Director: Griffin Hammond

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably familiar with the Thai chili sauce Sriracha, which can be found in just about every restaurant and household. While it seemingly rose to popularity overnight, that wasn’t actually the case. The movie explores the origin story of the famed hot sauce and how Huy Fong Foods made Sriracha into an international cult sensation.

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9. 'McQueen' (2018)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 51 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Lee Alexander McQueen, Janet McQueen and Gary McQueen

  • Director: Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui

Long before he revolutionized the fashion industry, Alexander McQueen dreamt of launching his own label. How did his empire come to be? The movie explores McQueen’s life, career and legacy, from his days as a teenager to working as a designer for Givenchy. The fact that it’s told through the lens of his friends and family is just icing on the cake. "The McQueen documentary is another one great for fashion lovers of all kinds. It allows the viewer a much better understanding of Alexander McQueen's true genius and stunning artistry. It's dramatic and beautiful and, of course, tragic—a real emotional rollercoaster," says Hepworth.

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10. 'The Tillman Story' (2010)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 35 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Pat Tillman, Josh Brolin and Mary Tillman

  • Director: Amir Bar-Lev

In 2002, Pat Tillman turned down a multimillion-dollar contract with the NFL to join the Army. Two years later, he was tragically killed in a friendly fire accident while serving in Afghanistan. The movie explores his family’s journey to uncover the truth about his death, which wasn’t due to the Taliban as initially reported.

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11. 'The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story ' (1996)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 26 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Al Hirschfeld, Julie Andrews and Lauren Bacall

  • Director: Susan Warms Dryfoos

This movie follows the life and career of accomplished artist Al Hirschfeld, who is best known for drawing caricatures of celebrities for the New York Herald Tribune and The New York Times in the ’20s.

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12. 'Missing Mom' (2016)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 24 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Robert McCallum and Chris Byford

  • Director: Robert McCallum and Jordan C. Morris

Twenty-five years after the mysterious disappearance of their mother, Rob McCallum and Chris Byford are fed up with the unknown. So, they make it their mission to find out the truth and turn to members of their own family for answers. However, they soon unlock secrets that no one saw coming. To say this award-winning movie is “suspenseful” is a total understatement.

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13. 'Fed Up ' (2014)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 35 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Michele Simon and Katie Couric

  • Director: Stephanie Soechtig

Just when we thought we knew everything about our health, this happened. Fed Up walks viewers through a 30-year (and counting) scandal in which the food industry, along with the U.S. government, has been misleading consumers. The documentary provides an eye-opening look at several factors that are contributing to America’s growing obesity epidemic, so buckle up, folks.

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14. 'Life Off Grid ' (2015)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 25 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Jonathan Taggart

  • Director: Jonathan Taggart

From 2011 to 2013, Jonathan Taggart visited 200 different people in Canada alongside his producer, Phillip Vannini. The catch? These individuals have chosen to live “off the grid,” which means they’ve found alternate ways to create electricity. Who knows, the fascinating inventions might even convince you to temporarily go “off the grid.”

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15. 'The Biggest Little Farm ' (2018)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 31 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? John and Molly Chester

  • Director: John Chester

When a couple purchases a sustainable farm 200 acres outside Los Angeles, they embark on a real-life We Bought a Farm adventure. While they soon learn that cultivating livestock is no easy task, the documentary explores their successes and failures as they transform the farm into a profitable business.

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16. 'Illuminated' (2019)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 16 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Johnny Royal and Josef Wages

  • Director: Johnny Royal

Although not much is known about the Illuminati, writer and directory Johnny Royal is doing everything in his power to uncover the truth about the secret society. The filmmaker interviews historians and Illuminati experts in an attempt to provide clarity about the group, which has left the public with one major dilemma: Is the Illuminati real or fictional?

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17. 'Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills' (1996)

  • Runtime 2 hours and 28 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Tony Brooks, Diana Davis and Terry Wood

  • Director: Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky

This movie documents the trial of the West Memphis Three, three teenagers who were accused of murdering three young boys in 1993 in Arkansas. The questionable evidence has rocked investigators for years, so prepare the popcorn. "It's a gruesome, heartbreaking story from all angles that exposes the impact of '90s satanic panic. But since it's been more than 30 years since the trial and conviction, so much more has unfolded in the case," says Executive Editor, Dara Katz. So, if you're riveted by the first installment, be sure to check out the next two parts of the trilogy, Paradise Lost 2: Revelations and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory.

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18. 'Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight' (2014)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 27 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? John Kastner

  • Director: John Kastner

The film tells the story of four psychiatric residents at Brockville Mental Health Centre in Canada, which specializes in violent crimes. Director John Kastner chats with his subjects about their fears about returning to society. Although it’s not the most lighthearted flick, the movie might make you feel more inclined to give someone a second chance.

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19. 'The Space Movie' (1979)

NASA/Getty Images

  • Runtime 1 hour and 19 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Yuri Gagarin

  • Director: Tony Palmer

If true crime isn’t your thing, look no further than The Space Movie. The flick is an hour-plus-long tribute to the Apollo 11 moon landing. NASA specifically requested that a movie be made in honor of the 10th anniversary of the momentous occasion, so yeah, it’s a pretty big deal.

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20. 'The Road To Guantanamo' (2006)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 35 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Ruhel Ahmed, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul

  • Director: Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross

In 2001, a group of British Muslim friends decide to travel to Afghanistan while visiting Pakistan for a wedding. When they’re forced to flee to Kabul, they’re wrongly accused of terrorism and thrown into the notorious Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba, where they’re held prisoner for three years.

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21. 'All In This Tea' (2007)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 9 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? David Lee Hoffman, Werner Herzog and Song Diefeng

  • Director: Les Blank and Gina Leibrecht

David Lee Hoffman is a world-renowned tea expert, who has dedicated his life to finding the best-ever handmade teas. The movie follows him as he travels to remote regions of China, where he taste-tests and learns tea-making secrets that have been passed down for generations.

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22. 'The Panama Papers' (2018)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 40 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Elijah Wood

  • Director: Alex Winter

Remember the infamous Panama Papers scandal? Well, director Alex Winter takes an in-depth look at the global corruption incident in this informational doc, which explores the chain of events that lead to the 11.5 million confidential documents being leaked as a result of Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca’s illegal transactions. The Panama Papers scandal is actually the biggest global corruption scandal in history, which is something I didn't know before watching this. There's plenty of other interesting tidbits in the doc as well.

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23. '4 Little Girls' (1997)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 42 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Maxine McNair, Walter Cronkite and Chris McNair

  • Director: Spike Lee

Director Spike Lee offers a detailed look at the 1963 bombing of a church in Alabama, which took the lives of four young girls: Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley. The movie uses interviews and archived footage to look at how the incident inspired America’s civil-rights movement, so be prepared to share a few tears while watching. "Spike Lee's '4 Little Girls' is both really insightful and so heart-wrenching. He does a phenomenal job of honoring the victims while shedding light on how the bombing affected their families, as well as the Black community," says PureWow's Associate Editor of News and Entertainment Nakeisha Campbell.

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24. 'Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father' (2008)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 33 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Kurt Kuenne and David Bagby

  • Director: Kurt Kuenne

In 2001, Dr. Andrew Bagby was shot and killed by his ex-girlfriend, who fled to Canada and walked free with Andrew’s child, Zachary. The movie doubles as a message to the young boy from Andrew’s estranged family, so he can better understand who his biological dad was. "'Dear Zachary' is so tragic, to be honest I wouldn't have watched it had I known (but I'm also a total whimp)," explains Hepworth. "Folks who like true crime and family drama won't be able to look away, but be warned: there is no happy ending here.

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25. 'Kon-Tiki' (1951)

  • Runtime 59 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Thor Heyerdahl, Herman Watzinger and Erik Hesselberg

  • Director: Thor Heyerdahl

The movie documents Norwegian writer and explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s now-famous journey across the Pacific Ocean by raft. The film might feel a bit dated, but as the Oscar winner for Best Documentary Feature at the 24th annual Academy Awards, it's a historically significant and all-around really cool flick.

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26. 'Star Wars Empire Of Dreams' (2004)

  • Runtime 2 hours and 30 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Robert Clotworthy, Walter Cronkite and George Lucas

  • Director: Edith Becker and Kevin Burns

If you love Star Wars, then feast your eyes on this behind-the-scenes gem. The doc provides an in-depth look at how the original trilogy was made, including Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

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27. 'Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey' (2012)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 45 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Jonathan Cain, Deen Castronovo and Arnel Pineda

  • Director: Ramona S. Diaz

When Journey guitarist Neal Schon discovers Arnel Pineda on YouTube, he presents the Filipino musician with the opportunity of a lifetime as their newest band member. The documentary follows Pineda’s journey to becoming the lead singer of, well, Journey.

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28. 'Life After Flash' (2017)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 33 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Sam Jones, Melody Anderson and Brian Blessed

  • Director: Lisa Downs

The movie gives a rare look at the impact Flash had on its star, Sam J. Jones, and how the cult film’s success affected his future career. If it's been a while since you've seen Flash Gordon, it would probably be a good idea to give the film a re-watch before diving into this documentary.

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29. 'The Other F Word' (2011)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 39 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Tony Adolescent, Art Alexakis and Tony Cadena

  • Director: Andrea Blaugrund Nevins

Don’t be fooled by the title, this doc is surprisingly moving. It follows a group of punk rockers, who are facing a milestone life event: fatherhood.

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30. 'The King' (2017)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 47 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Alec Baldwin, Tony Brown and James Carville

  • Director: Eugene Jarecki

In an attempt to understand the mind of Elvis Presley, filmmaker Eugene Jarecki embarks on a cross-country road trip in a Rolls-Royce that was once owned by the singer. (Casual.)

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31. 'The Road Movie' (2017)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 10 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? John Hillcoat, Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee

  • Director: Dmitrii Kalashnikov

If you’re one of those people who can spend hours watching dashcam footage on the internet, we have you covered. This documentary features a compilation of footage taken from populous Russian roads, and we suddenly feel much calmer about our daily commute.

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32. 'John Mcenroe: In The Realm Of Perfection' (2018)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 35 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? John McEnroe

  • Director: Julien Faraut

The documentary shows John McEnroe competing in the French Open at Roland Garros Stadium in 1984. Shot with a 16-mm camera, the footage captures the professional athlete at the peak of his career. (At the time, he was the world’s top-ranked player.)

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33. 'Code Black' (2013)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 20 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Andrew Eads, M.D.; Jamie Eng, M.D. and Luis Enriquez, R.N.

  • Director: Ryan McGarry, M.D.

Physician Ryan McGarry makes his filmmaking debut with this candid doc, which offers an inside look at America’s busiest emergency department. Since it details real life-and-death scenarios, this option is not for the fainthearted.

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34. 'Trouble The Water' (2008)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 35 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Michael Brown, Brian Nobles, Scott Rivers and Kimberly Rivers Roberts

  • Director: Tia Lessin and Carl Deal

An African American couple documents their journey to survival when they’re forced to ride out Hurricane Katrina in a neighbor’s attic. Trouble the Water was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2009.

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35. 'Girl Model' (2012)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 17 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Ashley Arbaugh and Rachel Blais

  • Director: David Redmon and Ashley Sabin

This film offers an interesting comparison between the thriving modeling industries in Siberia and Tokyo. While they may seem drastically different, the film explores the connection that links the two destinations together.

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36. 'Finders Keepers' (2015)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 23 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? John Wood and Shannon Whisnant

  • Director: Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel

Finders Keepers follows an amputee named John Woods, who is forced to compete for his prosthetic leg after a man found it in a grill he bought in an auction. Believe it or not, this real-life story will leave you guessing until the very end.

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37. 'Project Nim' (2011)

  • Runtime 1 hour and 39 minutes

  • Cast/Who’s in it? Nim Chimpsky and Professor Herbert Terrace

  • Director: James Marsh

Project Nim tells the story of Nim, a chimpanzee who was the subject of an experiment that resulted in him being raised like a human.

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