15 Oscar Winning Documentaries That Are A Must-Watch!

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Though 94th Oscar Awards are over, the fever of its excitement is still lingering! Oscar Awards (also known as Academy awards) are the topmost recognition awards for the film industry that enjoys worldwide faith and appreciation. This list contains Oscar winning documentaries that will blow your mind with their brilliant performances.

Oscar Award was started in 1929 and has come a great way ahead now where it has a lot of deserving nominations, starry night, trendsetter fashion, and a lot of controversies. How can we forget the recent one? Will Smith slapped Chris Rock over a sensitive joke! Well, let’s skip to the good part. The recent documentary, Summer Of Soul (2021), has won Oscar Award for best documentary film. Here are some more Oscar winning documentaries that you can enjoy binge-watching. 

15 Oscar Winning Documentaries on Netflix And Other Platforms

15 Best Oscar Winning Documentaries That Are A Must-Watch!

Oscar Awards are the biggest achievement for an actor, artist, and movie, certifying its content and brilliance. So, I have compiled an updated list of Oscar winning documentaries that have won Academy Awards for their unique yet bold content, inspired by true events and personalities at your service. Let’s check out the complete list below.

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#1 Summer Of Soul (2021)

15 Best Oscar Winning Documentaries That Are A Must-Watch!
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Summer Of Soul movie is the newest addition to the Oscar Winning Documentaries list. The movie has a touching tale that portrays the lives, culture, and legacy of the Blacks. 

Summer Of Soul is set in the 1969’s Harlem Cultural Festival that glorifies Black people and their culture. The movie is a bumpy ride of an emotional rollercoaster that will make you laugh and cry simultaneously.

  • Release Date:  2 July 2021 
  • Director: Questlove
  • Genre: Documentary 
  • Movie Run Time: 1h 58m  
  • Cast: Dorinda Drake, Barbara Bland-Acosta, Darryl Lewis, Ethel Beatty, Al Sharpton, Allen Zerkin, Margot Edman, and Alan Leeds                
  • IMDB Score: 8/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%
  • You Can Watch It On: Disney+ & Hulu

#2 My Octopus Teacher (2020)

15 Best Oscar Winning Documentaries That Are A Must-Watch!

My Octopus Teacher is one of the most spectacular Oscar Winning Documentaries that will take you to the magical world of waters and its living creatures. The protagonist, Craig Foster, swims daily in the freezing deep waters, where he accidentally bumps into an octopus. 

Amazed by the octopus and its tempting moves, Craig follows his movement patterns daily. Over a while, the unlike duos come close and explore the water world and unfold mysteries beneath. 

  • Release Date:  4 September 2020 
  • Director: Pippa Ehrlich & James Reed
  • Genre: Documentary 
  • Movie Run Time:  1h 30m             
  • IMDB Score: 8.1/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
  • You Can Watch It On: Netflix

#3 American Factory (2019)

15 Best Oscar Winning Documentaries That Are A Must-Watch!

American Factory is based on the real-life events in Ohio’s reputed General Motors factory. The story revolves around a Chinese businessman who opens a large factory to make automobiles, but many inner politics and external forces hinder the way. 

This results in violent clashes between the corporates and working-class laborers in America. American Factory is one of the most gripping Oscar Winning Documentaries that will keep you hooked throughout the film.

  • Release Date: 21 August 2019  
  • Director: Julia Reichert & Steven Bognar
  • Genre: Documentary 
  • Movie Run Time: 1h 55m  
  • Cast:  Junming ‘Jimmy’ Wang, Robert Allen, Sherrod Brown, Dave Burrows, Dawnetta Cantrell, Lori Cochran, Austin Cole, and John Crane              
  • IMDB Score: 7.4/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
  • You Can Watch It On: Netflix

#4 Free Solo (2018)

15 Best Oscar Winning Documentaries That Are A Must-Watch!

Free Solo is a breathtaking adventurous documentary film that has won Oscar Award for all the right reasons. The movie is a biopic of Alex Honnold, a professional rock climber who managed to climb El Capitan mountain alone. The Oscar Winning Documentary, Free Solo, has stunning cinematography that will give you goosebumps and thrilling cinematic experiences.  

  • Release Date: 28 September 2018 
  • Director: Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
  • Genre: Documentary/Sport 
  • Movie Run Time: 1h 40m  
  • Cast: Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, Jimmy Chin, Cheyne Lempe, Mikey Schaefer, Sanni McCandless, Dierdre Wolownick, and Dierdre Wolownick              
  • IMDB Score: 8.1/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%   
  • You Can Watch It On: Prime Video & Disney+

#5 Icarus (2017)

15 Best Oscar Winning Documentaries That Are A Must-Watch!

Icarus is a documentary movie based on sports controversies that highlight the dark world of famous sports events. The story of the Icarus revolves around serious matters like sports doping, deaths of players in questionable scenarios, bribing, and the influence of politicians and mafia in reputed sports events. Icarus is one of the most thrilling Oscar Winning Documentaries that serves as a reminder that all that glitters are not gold! 

  • Release Date: 20 January 2017 
  • Director: Bryan Fogel
  • Genre: Documentary/Thriller  
  • Movie Run Time: 2 hours  
  • Cast: Bryan Fogel, Dave Zabriskie, Don Catlin, Grigory Rodchenkov, Scott Brandt, Ben Stone, Ben Stone, and Richard McLaren               
  • IMDB Score: 7.9/10 
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
  • You Can Watch It On: Netflix & Prime Video

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#6 O.J.: Made in America (2016)  

15 Best Oscar Winning Documentaries That Are A Must-Watch!

O.J.: Made in America is another masterpiece that chronicles the struggles and plight of the Black people. The movie is an extraordinary documentary based on the life of O.J. Simpson. It portrays the major events, including his murder and the following repercussions. O.J.: Made in America is one of the most thrilling Oscar Winning Documentaries that highlights American racial tensions and violence.

  • Release Date: 20 May 2016   
  • Director: Ezra Edelman
  • Genre:  Documentary/Crime
  • Movie Run Time: 7h 47m   
  • Cast: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mike Albanese, Muhammad Ali, Marcus Allen, Bea Arthur, F. Lee Bailey, Danny Bakewell, and Paula Barbieri               
  • IMDB Score: 8.9/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
  • You Can Watch It On: Hulu

#7 Amy (2015)

15 Best Oscar Winning Documentaries That Are A Must-Watch!

The Amy movie is about the adventurous life of the popular singer named Amy Winehouse. The gripping tale has many real footages of Amy that highlights the controversial events of her famous career. Amy is one of the most entertaining Oscar Winning Documentaries based on a person’s biography.

  • Release Date: 16 May 2015 
  • Director: Asif Kapadia
  • Genre:  Documentary/Musical 
  • Movie Run Time: 2h 8m   
  • Cast: Amy Winehouse, Mitch Winehouse, Mark Ronson, Russell Brand, Lauren Gilbert, Juliette Ashby, Nick Shymansky, and Tyler James     
  • IMDB Score: 7.8/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
  • You Can Watch It On: Prime Video

#8 Citizenfour (2014)

15 Best Oscar Winning Documentaries That Are A Must-Watch!

Citizenfour is a real story that documents one of the most shocking events that has ever happened in history. The Oscar Winning Documentary, Citizenfour, revolves around a famous man named Edward Snowden, who leaks sensitive government information on the public platform. 

The security breach by a well-reputed man sparks a never-ending conspiracy. However, as the story unfolds, it reveals a layer of lies and secrets. Thus, Citizenfour is one of the most thrilling Oscar Winning Documentaries that you must watch for the sake of thrilling fun!

  • Release Date: 24 October 2014 
  • Director: Laura Poitras
  • Genre: Documentary/Historical Documentary 
  • Movie Run Time: 1h 53m  
  • Cast: Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, William Binney, Jacob Appelbaum, Ewen MacAskill, Jeremy Scahill, and M. Margaret McKeown      
  • IMDB Score: 8/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score:  96%
  • You Can Watch It On: Prime Video

#9 20 Feet From Stardom (2013)

15 Best Oscar Winning Documentaries That Are A Must-Watch!

20 Feet From Stardom is a musical treat for the audience that will captivate you with its musical track and dazzling stars. However, the movie revolves around the backup singers who contribute to making a track famous and tempting. Unlike the lead singers, these background artists remain in the dark. 

20 Feet From Stardom celebrates such unsung artists that deserve a fair share of recognition and applauds. Thus, 20 Feet From Stardom is one of the most inspiring Oscar Winning Documentaries that you will ever come across. So, do watch it asap!

  • Release Date: 14 June 2013  
  • Director: Morgan Neville 
  • Genre: Documentary/Musical 
  • Movie Run Time: 1h 31m  
  • Cast:  Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill, Lou Adler, Stephanie ‘Stevvi’ Alexander, Patti Austin, and Chris Botti               
  • IMDB Score: 7.4/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%
  • You Can Watch It On: Prime Video 

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#10 Searching For Sugar Man (2012) 

15 Best Oscar Winning Documentaries That Are A Must-Watch!

Searching For Sugar Man is an entertaining documentary flick that portrays the mysterious life of a famous South African musician named Rodriguez. He was very talented and had many crazy followers. However, one day he suddenly disappears without any trace or closure. Things worsen when people start claiming that Rodriguez has died. 

Two devoted followers start their adventurous journey to search for Rodriguez and discover something shocking. Searching For Sugar Man is one of the classic Oscar Winning Documentaries that will spellbind your attention.

  • Release Date: 26 July 2012  
  • Director: Malik Bendjelloul
  • Genre: Documentary/Music 
  • Movie Run Time: 1h 26m  
  • Cast: Rodriguez, Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman, Dennis Coffey, Mike Theodore, Dan DiMaggio, Jerome Ferretti, Steve Rowland, and Willem Möller              
  • IMDB Score: 8.2/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
  • You Can Watch It On: Prime Video

#11 Undefeated (2011)

15 Best Oscar Winning Documentaries That Are A Must-Watch!

Undefeated is an inspiring tale of ambition, hope, and faith that will give you goosebumps and thrilling experiences. The documentary revolves around a brilliant high-school sports coach named Bill Courtney and his constant efforts to shape the football players of Manassas High School in North Memphis. 

The movie has many heart-touching moments that you will find too dramatic. Undefeated is one of the most captivating Oscar Winning Documentaries that highlights the sports spirit and teamwork.

  • Release Date: 17 February 2012 
  • Director: T. J. Martin & Daniel Lindsay
  • Genre: Documentary/Sport 
  • Movie Run Time: 1h 53m    
  • Cast: Bill Courtney, O.C. Brown, Montrail ‘Money’ Brown, Chavis Daniels, and Jeff Germany                
  • IMDB Score: 7.7/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96% 
  • You Can Watch It On:  Netflix

#12 Inside Job (2010)   

15 Best Oscar Winning Documentaries That Are A Must-Watch!

Inside Job is an iconic documentary that touches on different segments- financial breakdown, fluctuation in poverty, and the plight of millions of unemployed people. The documentary depicts the 2008 US Economic Crisis that had a global impacted and resulted in the loss of livelihoods. 

The narrator, Matt Damon, opens up about the key factors responsible for such a crash down. Inside Job is one of the most hard-hitting Oscar Winning Documentaries that highlights the role of powerful men and politicians who control the global economy.

  • Release Date: 8 October 2010  
  • Director: Charles Ferguson 
  • Genre:  Documentary/Crime
  • Movie Run Time:  1h 48m 
  • Cast: Matt Damon, Gylfi Zoega, Andri Snær Magnason, Sigridur Benediktsdottir, Paul Volcker, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, George Soros, and Barney Frank               
  • IMDB Score: 8.2/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98% 
  • You Can Watch It On: Netflix

#13 The Cove (2009) 

15 Best Oscar Winning Documentaries That Are A Must-Watch!

The Cove is a bone-chilling documentary that portrays the horrors of animal abuse and the greed of humans. The protagonist, Ric O’Barry, is a social activist who gets a tip that local fishermen of Taiji in Japan are allegedly killing Dolphins and disturbing the ecological cycle. 

Thus, Ric teams up with a filmmaker named Louis Psihoyos and takes the help of the Ocean Preservation Society to carry out a secret operation and catch the culprits red-handed. The Cove is one of the most entertaining Oscar Winning Documentaries that will give you tears and goosebumps at the same time.

  • Release Date:  31 July 2009 
  • Director: Louie Psihoyos
  • Genre:   Documentary/Crime
  • Movie Run Time:  1h 32m 
  • Cast: Richard O’Barry, Louie Psihoyos, Hardy Jones, Michael Illiff, Joji Morishita, Ian Campbell, Paul Watson, Doug DeMaster, and Dave Rastovich              
  • IMDB Score: 8.4/10 
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
  • You Can Watch It On: Prime Video

#14 Man On Wire (2008) 

15 Best Oscar Winning Documentaries That Are A Must-Watch!

Man On Wire is a spectacular documentary flick with mind-blowing acrobatic scenes and many flexible stunts performed on a thin wire! The movie is based on a notorious yet brilliant man named Philippe Petit. 

He walks on a thin wire between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and manages to do something unimaginable. Man On Wire is one of the most bone-chilling Oscar Winning Documentaries that will blow your mind and flutter butterflies in your stomach. 

  • Release Date: 25 July 2008  
  • Director: James Marsh
  • Genre:  Documentary/Indie film
  • Movie Run Time: 1h 34m  
  • Cast: Philippe Petit, Jean François Heckel, Jean-Louis Blondeau, Annie Allix, David Forman, Alan Welner, Mark Lewis, and Barry Greenhouse  
  • IMDB Score: 7.7/10 
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
  • You Can Watch It On: Prime Video

#15 Taxi To The Dark Side (2007)

15 Best Oscar Winning Documentaries That Are A Must-Watch!

Taxi To The Dark Side is a heart-wrenching documentary that highlights the brutality of the American military forces at Bagram Force Air Base. The movie is based on the torture and inhuman treatment of the hostages by military officials. 

The story revolves around the killing of a taxi driver who succumbs to his injuries after enduring brutality for five days. Taxi To The Dark Side is one of the bone-chilling Oscar Winning Documentaries that focuses on prejudices and power abuse by the authorities against targetted groups and individuals.

  • Release Date: 18 January 2008  
  • Director: Alex Gibney
  • Genre:  Documentary/True crime
  • Movie Run Time: 1h 46m  
  • Cast: Alex Gibney, Brian Keith Allen, Moazzam Begg, Christopher Beiring, Willie Brand, George W. Bush, Jack Cafferty, and Brian Cammack             
  • IMDB Score: 7.5/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
  • You Can Watch It On: Prime Video

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Final Words

Do not miss out on watching the above-mentioned Oscar Winning Documentaries on Netflix, Prime Video, or Disney+ and be a part of these amazing cinematic gems. If you have watched them, mention your favorite Oscar Winning Documentaries in the comment section.

Sabira Fatimi
Sabira Fatimi
Sabira, The magical fresh air of the Viebly, can bewitch you through her awesome writings on our site! A daydreamer, wordsmith, charmer, camera-poser, and hodophile are her other personalities to explore. She is a writer who never fails to fascinate with her brilliant storytelling; after all, she is the postgraduate historian of Jamia! She is the chatter-box of the team who never fails to raise unending queries and keep everyone amused. She is the Khaleesi of her imaginary realm riding her ferocious dragons as a free-spirit. I had told you….She is that dramatic!

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