We’re suckers for any good, contentious list of best films. Whenever a publication puts together their top 300 films or the best horror movies, it inevitably has a few holes, which is an opportunity to talk about what makes art great. (It also give us justification to argue about movies.)
The latest “best of” roundup comes from The Guardian, which asked top documentary filmmakers, including the directors of Waste Land and Man on Wire, to name their favorite documentaries. The usual suspects make the list – Hoop Dreams, Capturing the Friedmans, and The Thin Blue Line makes appearances – as well as a few odder names. (We’re pleased to see the inclusion of The Five Obstructions, a Lars von Trier experiment about the process of producing a film under increasingly absurd limitations.)
The list reflects a wide variety of styles, from Holocaust documentary Night and Fog to the strange meta-story of Sherman’s March. The Guardian’s fifty films are an excellent sampling of the genre. And since the contributors point out that their selections are only reflective of their own tastes, not the whole state of documentary filmmaking, it’s hard to quibble with the choices.
Most if every film on this list is available to watch at Media Services in the AU Library. We’ve also put together our own list of the 500 most essential documentaries in our collection. Both lists are great starting points if you’ve wanted to watch more documentaries but aren’t sure where to begin.