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Top Ten Documentaries of 2011

Santino

over 2 years ago

Last year was probably the single greatest year for documentaries in my lifetime (nearly 30 years). There were some real powerhouse docs in 2010 from some of the biggest names in the business (Guggenheim, Ferguson, Gibney). Well, this year we’ve seen is no slouch, with Herzog, Morris, Spurlock, and Scorsese all releasing films.

What are some of your favorites from 2011?

1. The Interrupters
2. Into the Abyss
3. Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975
4. George Harrison: In a Material World
5. Project Nim
6. Tabloid
7. Page One: A Year Inside the NY Times
8. The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
9. Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
10. Life in a Day

Dennis...Brian

over 2 years ago

I loved Greates Movie Ever Sold. Buck was okay (I missed the first 10 mins otherwise it would be on my list), Conan I could not get thru (he is not even remotely funny); I found Forks Over Knives entertaining and interesting. the great Nick Broomfield had one of his more disappointing efforts Sarah Palin, You Betcha but it was still better than much of the 2011 output I have seen

Santino

over 2 years ago

What about the Carol Channing doc? I’m surprised you didn’t mention that!

I didn’t see Buck but I heard it was good. Forks Over Knives had interesting subject matter but was done in such an uninspired way that I couldn’t really get into it.

Matteo Bittant​i

over 2 years ago

elBulli: Cooking in Progress.

apursan​sar

over 2 years ago

Well, I’m not yet comfortable with making a Top 10 at this point, but my favorite 2011 documentary so far has been Gonçalo Tocha’s “It’s The Earth Not the Moon”, a beautiful ethnographic documentary about the small island of Corvo which displays great respect and compassion for its inhabitants and reminded me of Ogawa’s equally masterful “A Japanese Village”. Next would be Michael Glawogger’s powerful “Whores’ Glory” which does a great job at displaying global exploitation of prostitutes and providing a glimpse into the hopeless lives of those women working under horrible conditions in Asia and Central America. Nicolas Steiner’s “Battle of the Queens” is a brilliantly edited and often funny documentary on a Swiss cow fight which I also liked a lot. Another documentary worth mentioning is Gastón Solnicki’s"Papirosen" that despite moments of triviality delivered an intimate and warm family portrait.

TRILLAR​Y DUFF

over 2 years ago

i have certainly not seen 10 2011 docs. here are all the 2011 docs i’ve seen, ranked:

1. inni
2. beauty day
3. andrew bird: fever year
4. the interrupters
5. sushi: the global catch
6. you’ve been trumped

filmcap​sule

over 2 years ago

Here’s my list from what I saw:

Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Paradise Lost 3
The Arbor
George Harrison
This is Not a Film
The Interrupters
Cameraman
Armadillo
Tahrir: Liberation Square
Bill Cunningham New York
Tabloid
Pina
Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
Buck
The Lips
Scenes of a Crime
Life in a Day

Spencer

over 2 years ago

I’m glad to see Life in a Day getting the attention it deserves. I saw it on a 15 hour flight home from Australia, and it moved me more than any documentary this year, even more than the acclaimed Senna. I’ll probably change my tune once I’ve seen Werner Herzog’s Into the Abyss, which will surely take the top position.

Dennis...Brian

over 2 years ago

You are right!

I forgot to mention Carol Channing: Larger Than Life and it may end up being the film of the year (even tho it wont be released til next year), even wrote a mubi thread on it.

Dennis...Brian

over 2 years ago

these made the Academy short list

Battle for Brooklyn” (RUMER Inc.)

“Bill Cunningham New York” (First Thought Films)

“Buck” (Cedar Creek Productions)

“Hell and Back Again” (Roast Beef Productions Limited)

“If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” (Marshall Curry Productions, LLC)

“Jane’s Journey” (NEOS Film GmbH & Co. KG)

“The Loving Story” (Augusta Films)

“Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” (@radical.media)

“Pina” (Neue Road Movies GmbH)

“Project Nim” (Red Box Films)

“Semper Fi: Always Faithful” (Tied to the Tracks Films, Inc.)

“Sing Your Song” (S2BN Belafonte Productions, LLC)

“Undefeated” (Spitfire Pictures)

“Under Fire: Journalists in Combat” (JUF Pictures, Inc.)

“We Were Here” (Weissman Projects, LLC)

and yup the Undefeated is the horrible Palin puff piece.

apursan​sar

over 2 years ago

My favorite song from “Whores’ Glory”:

cineast​e

over 2 years ago

Where are Fran’s legions?

Appears that Scorsese’s “Public Speaking” has gone unnoticed.

marcore​nton

over 2 years ago

My favourite doc of 2011 was Grande Hotel by Lotte Stoops by far. Unfortunately it’s not here on Mubi.

Matt L

over 2 years ago

Senna is an outstanding documentary. It was the best documentary I saw in 2011.

Santino

over 2 years ago

I think Scorsese’s Public Speaking was 2010 (didn’t it come out on HBO in the Fall of 2010?).

Santino

over 2 years ago

Updated to include the Woody doc:

1. The Interrupters
2. Into the Abyss
3. Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975
4. Woody Allen A Documentary
5. George Harrison: In a Material World
6. Project Nim
7. Tabloid
8. Page One: A Year Inside the NY Times
9. The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
10. Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop

Murble

over 2 years ago

I second Senna.

Murble

over 2 years ago

I loathe Morgan Spurlock. He is, in my opinion, an overrated hack. It’s insane that people buy into his bull shit. His first documentary was akin to someone doing an expose on the dangers of shooting yourself in the head. Who on earth did not know that eating fries and hamburgers would negatively impact one’s well being? I want somebody to do a documentary where someone only eats hamburgers, french fries and chicken sandwiches that are home made. I imagine that the health consequences would be comparable to those portrayed in “Supersize Me”. It even has a stupid title. I cannot comment on any of his others films, perhaps they are insightful and entertaining but I somehow doubt it. Part of the Michael Moore punchline documentary crowd but with less substance and far less comedic insight.

Murble

over 2 years ago

Sorry Santino, that comment was directed at Spurlock himself, not you.

Murble

over 2 years ago

I am not disparaging his new documentary which I have not seen.

Murble

over 2 years ago

Tabloid was wonderful. I also enjoyed the HBO documentary about The Triangle Factory Fire.

Santino

over 2 years ago

I suppose if you’re only judging a doc on the content, fine, Spurlock ain’t all that much. But in terms of entertainment, he’s an engaging performer and I found both Super Size Me and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold fun to watch (and somewhat of an achievement that he was able to get McDonalds to do away with their super size menu).

In the case of The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, while maybe not a deep doc like say, Enemies of the People, I found it to be akin to Kirby’s This Film Is Not Yet Rated in terms of highlighting some of the background processes that go behind the scenes in the film business. I’ll probably never see it again but I’m glad I saw it.

Murble

over 2 years ago

I so desperately want to see Into The Abyss

Murble

over 2 years ago

Has anyone seen “This Is Not A Film”?

Santino

over 2 years ago

Oh yeah, forgot about the Triangle Factory Fire doc. That was a pretty interesting story.

Murble

over 2 years ago

I also thought “Life In A Day” was total shit. That movie has been done a hundred times over. “Youtube” the movie.

Murble

over 2 years ago

yuck. i talk too much. my apologies.

Murble

over 2 years ago

To each his own though.

Murble

over 2 years ago

I like many things that others consider garbage so…

marcore​nton

over 2 years ago

Didn’t like “Life In A Day” very much either. Too messy to become really interesting.
Senna was really good, I agree. Think it was a 2010 release though.