The Greatest Documentaries of 2021

The Best Documentaries of 2021

With just some months of the yr underway, 2021 has already bestowed upon us the present of many thought-provoking documentary movies. These documentaries vary in subject material, from artwork retrospectives and obscure cultural occasions to candid peeks into the lives of the world’s greatest pop stars—and most elusive personalities. Out there on streaming platforms together with Netflix, Amazon, HBO Max, and extra, listed here are the very best documentaries of 2021 thus far.

Framing Britney Spears

Some have questioned simply how truthful The New York Instances’s documentary on the pop star’s rise to superstardom in her teenagers and turbulent twenties really is. However in 2021, Framing Britney Spears began a (belated) dialog about the best way younger ladies within the highlight are handled by numerous media apparatuses—and the way we tackle their plights looking back.

The place to stream: Hulu

Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry

Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry is a candid look into the lifetime of one of many world’s greatest (and youngest) pop stars, her fame, and her household. And in case you have been questioning, her workforce denies that the Grammy-winning artist acquired a $25 million greenback payday for producing the documentary.

The place to stream: Apple TV+

Biggie: I Bought A Story To Inform

We expect we all know a lot in regards to the late Christopher Wallace—also called The Infamous B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls—due to his cultural standing as one of many biggest rappers of the twentieth century. However, regardless of the city legends surrounding him, his beef with Tupac Shakur, and his 1997 assassination, this documentary proves there’s nonetheless a lot to be taught in regards to the Brooklyn native.

The place to stream: Netflix


Sam Pollard’s documentary about authorities surveillance of the civil rights chief pores over theories that the FBI wished Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lifeless, alongside lately declassified information from the Fifties and Nineteen Sixties.

The place to stream: Apple


For Tina Turner, this documentary is a goodbye letter of types. It’s not essentially an announcement of her everlasting disappearance from the highlight, however as an alternative is a option to inform her followers one final time, in her personal phrases, simply how a lot her profession and their adoration has meant to her. It’s additionally a venue to lastly put to relaxation the trauma of reliving the turbulence of her marriage to Ike Turner, which she has talked about publicly numerous instances over the many years.

The place to stream: Premieres March 27 on HBO Max

Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir

Writer Amy Tan, recognized for writing the 1989 bestseller The Pleasure Luck Membership (and subsequent movie of the identical identify), is the topic of a documentary that turned out to be the final movie directed by the late James Redford (Robert Redford’s son). It premiered to important acclaim on the Sundance Movie Pageant in 2021 and can hit PBS as a part of their “American Masters” sequence in Could.

The place to stream: Premieres Could 3 on PBS

Trans in Trumpland

Government produced by Hint Lysette, Chella Man, and Miss Main Griffin-Gracy, Trans in Trumpland is a four-part documentary sequence that honors the lives of transgender people dwelling below the Trump administration’s numerous bans and discriminatory insurance policies by letting them inform their very own tales.

The place to stream: Amazon Prime, Subject

Black Artwork: Within the Absence of Gentle

In Black Artwork, the affect of 200 years of artwork created by African-Individuals is launched to a mainstream viewers. It’s solely a small portion of the typically forgotten affect of Black artists in America, but it surely seeks to shine some gentle on the broad historical past by exploring a Nineteen Seventies Black artwork exhibition that opened up doorways for modern artists.

The place to stream: HBO Max

Demi Lovato: Dancing With The Satan

For the second time in her life, Demi Lovato has allowed YouTube to provide a docuseries about her life within the highlight. After her overdose in 2018, the musician and actress started manufacturing on this four-part documentary, by which she dives deep into her struggles with dependancy, psychological sickness, and trauma from sexual abuse.

The place to stream: YouTube

Summer time of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Might Not Be Televised)

On the 2021 Sundance Movie Pageant, Questlove premiered his directorial debut. The documentary tells the story of the Harlem Cultural Pageant, which lasted for six weeks in 1969 and boasted performances from Stevie Marvel and Gladys Knight, but one way or the other stays an obscure cultural artifact.

The place to stream: July 2 on Hulu

Rita Moreno: Only a Lady Who Determined to Go for It

One of many 16 entertainers to have achieved EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards) standing, Rita Moreno tells the story of her nearly 90 years of life (practically 80 of which have been in present enterprise). From West Facet Story to The Electrical Firm and One Day at a Time, the actress has had a profession that individuals solely dream of, and the documentary (which premiered at Sundance to important acclaim) displays that.

The place to stream: Rita Moreno will likely be launched in theaters June 18.


Pelé, the 80-year-old Brazilian soccer legend, lastly will get his due with a movie that paperwork his rise to worldwide superstardom on the age of 16 throughout Brazil’s turbulent Nineteen Sixties.

The place to stream: Netflix

ROADRUNNER: A Movie About Anthony Bourdain

How does one go about chronicling the colourful lifetime of an iconoclast like Anthony Bourdain? From sheer anonymity, the chef rose within the ranks of world gourmands, meals writers, and bon vivants, all due to his finest promoting guide, Kitchen Confidential. When you have been a fan of No Reservations and Elements Unknown on CNN, you’ll undoubtedly be moved by Morgan Neville’s all-encompassing take a look at the person whose presence modified not solely the restaurant trade, however American attitudes in direction of meals and journey.

The place to stream: In theaters July 16


The lifetime of visionary dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey is chronicled on this documentary that premiered at Sundance earlier this yr. The language of Ailey’s choreography spoke to the expertise of Black Individuals, growing choreographies that communicated a poetry of motion that’s recalled by Jamila Wignot’s visually poetic viewpoint, comprised of archive footage and movie star interviews.

The place to observe: In theaters July 23

Bob Ross: Completely happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed

Who would have thought that Bob Ross, the seemingly most calm, cool, and picked up painter there ever was, could be on the middle of some backstabbing enterprise drama?

The place to stream: Netflix


In his 40-year Hollywood profession, Val Kilmer has devoted loads of his off-screen time to report himself, archiving his picture on movie, and later mining that to place collectively a compelling documentary about his life and profession.

The place to observe: Amazon Prime


Murdoch-ification of the tabloid and information leisure industries (and the rise of 1 movie star president) are documented on this four-part sequence, with a heavy deal with Cindy Adams (the famed Web page Six gossip columnist who could be very a lot nonetheless at it).

The place to stream: Showtime

The Velvet Underground

Musical documentaries are Todd Haynes’s The Velvet Underground is a deep investigation into how the Velvet Underground grew to become one of many defining teams of a era in New York, with a visible aesthetic that traces up with the band’s experimental sound. In fact, appearances from Velvet Underground member John Cale in addition to older interview clips with the late Lou Reed are included within the immersive tableau, and it’s already producing Oscar buzz. It’s finest skilled in a theater (the sound deserves to be heard on the highest quality encompass sound audio system), however the documentary is now obtainable to stream at dwelling on Apple TV+, too.

The place to stream: Apple TV+

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