Feature: The Top Ten Documentaries of the Twenty First Century (So Far)

There have been some amazing documentaries release since the turn of the century. From the impassioned politicking of Michael Moore, to the astonishing images of Man on Wire to the human stories of Anvil! And The King of Kong, the last eleven years give great evidence to suggest we are in a golden age of documentaries. This month see another great doc releasesd, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, in which Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) blows the lid on product placement. Which we are using as an excuse to look down the ten best docs of the century so far.

Man On Wire
French high wire artist gained notoriety in the 1970s by using world famous landmarks at stages for his high-wire act, combining circus act and performance art. Man On Wire tells the story of his most audacious stunt – walking a wire suspended between the two towers of the World Trade Centre. Despite having only still photos of the event, the film is heart-in-mouth viewing and has extra poignancy since the events of 9/11(imdb)

Ayrton Senna was one of those iconic sportsmen who transcended their field and became an international icon. Asif Kapadia superbly crafted doc filtered hours upon hours of archive footage into a two hour epic, spanning his upbringing in Brazil, his early days in go-karting and his F1 success through to the tragic crash which ended his life.(imdb</strong>)

TT3D: Closer To The Edge
Narrated by Requiem For A Dream star Jared Leto, TT3D followed the build-up to the 2010 Isle of Man TT Motorcycle race. The world famous racing event has a notoriously high fatality rate and the film is an edge of your seat experience. The excellent 3D only adds to the excitement.(imdb)

Cave OF Forgotten Dreams
Iconic and eccentric German director Werner Herzog was granted access to Chauvet Cave, home of the world’s oldest known cave paintings, and took the latest 3D cameras in with him. Access is so limited due to the paintings being so fragile that even human breath can harm them, meaning that the film is closest most of us will ever get to seeing them in the flesh. The film is also drenched in Herzog’s trademark dark humour and fantastic accent, and has a brilliant (and irrelevant) epilogue about albino crocodiles.(imdb)

The King Of Kong
You might not think a documentary about the battle for the world record score on old arcade games would be that exciting ; you would be very wrong. We guarantee you will be on the edge of your seat cheering for everyman underdog Steve Wiebe, as he goes up against reigning champ Billy Mitchell, an egotistical goateed hot sauce tycoon who feels more like a character from a Will Ferrell film than a real person.(imdb)

Anvil! The Story of Anvil
In 1984, Canadian heavy metal band Anvil looked set to be the next Metallica, but it never really came together. 20 years later they are still chugging along, with singer Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow delivering school dinners on the side and drummer Robb Reiner working construction to pay the bills. What starts out as a real life Spinal Tap (and just as funny), becomes a life-afirming and touching story about doing what you love and not giving up the dream.(imdb)

An Inconvenient Truth
After failing to be elected President in 2000 (thus leading to George Bush’s reign of incompetence), Al Gore turned filmmaker. After seeing Gore’s impassioned presentation about the threat of global warming, documentary maker Davis Guggenheim offered to turn it into a film. Gore’s heart-felted, presences and a powerful set of evidence mean the film is much more than just a powerpoint presentation.(imdb)

Another example of a great documentary taking a subject that you wouldn’t think would be at all interesting and finding the human stories behind it. Spellbound follows a group of kids on their way to compete in a national Spelling Bee. The kids are a strange bunch of outballs and outsiders, but the film treats them with warmth and dignity.

Bowling For Columbine
The film that shot Michael Moore to fame is an undeniably powerful work. Moore is a very decisive figure, prone to manipulating the facts and going wildly off topic. Yet he’s a magnetic presence, speaks from the heart, and his films are never boring. Most importantly, he gets people talking about the issues who normally wouldn’t even be aware of them, and for that he should be admired.(imdb)

You might not know The Dandy Warhols very well (most famous for the Vodafone-ad soundtrack ‘Bohemian Like You), and you’ve probably never even heard The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Yet this documentary following the fortunes of both bands is absolutely riveting. The Dandy Warhols are branded sell outs for even the smallest amount of success, and BJM’s enigmatic, self-destructive lead singer Anton Newcombe actively sabotages any ounce of progress his band makes.

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Morgan Spurlock first shot to fame in Super Size Me, his expose of the fast food industry, where he ate McDonalds for breakfast, lunch and dinner, every day for a month. Spurlock’s now back, blowing the lid world of product placement, marketing and advertising in POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a film that was fully financed through product placement from various brands, all of which are integrated transparently into the film. It follows Spurlock as he tries to fund the film by going direct to companies, asking them for finance, also speaking to filmmakers and experts, including JJ Abrams, Noam Chomsky and Ralph Nader, along the way. It’s a genuinely interesting, very likable and always entertaining, much like Spurlock himself.

To watch more, visit rightster.com

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is in cinemas 14th October 2011

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