Looking for the best documentaries on Netflix? Here at Exstreamist we like to keep up to date on the latest and greatest of each genre, none less important than the other. But if we’re to be completely honest, it’s hard to argue that Netflix’s documentary section is anything but world class. 

With that in mind, we break down our top ten documentaries that you can stream instantly on Netflix. We’ll always try to keep this list up to date as possible, but if you notice anything missing, let us know in the comments!

How about you? What are your favorite documentaries on Netflix instant stream?

10) Samsara

More of a visual experiment than a documentary, Samsara is one of the most visually stunning documentaries available on Netflix right now. Without much dialogue, the story is told strictly through visuals, but this ceratinly doesn’t take away from the many powerful messages of the film. 

9) Food, Inc.

One of the scariest documentaries we have seen, Food, Inc. dives deep into the food industry, from the farming to the politics driving an often misunderstood world. What we enjoyed most about Food, Inc. is that not only did it show what’s wrong with the food industry currently, but it also focused on what we as normal consumers can do to change things for the better.

8) Restrepo

Certainly a depressing documentary, Restrepo is never afraid to show just exactly what the US’s most elite military forces are facing on a daily basis abroad. The reality should scare us though, because it certainly isn’t easy for the men and women in military services to face head on daily.

7) Chasing Ice

As visually impressive as it is scientifically important, Chasing Ice follows a mad scientist in his effort to monitor and capture glacier melt on film. Chasing Ice shows the trials of research, the terrifying reality of global warming, and a grand finale we won’t spoil for you here, you have to see it yourself.

6) The Imposter

Just a strange, strange film. We don’t want to spoil too much here as the less you know before you watch, the better. We’ll just warn you that every time you think you have something figured out, The Imposter completely pulls the rug out from underneath you. 

5) Blackfish

Anytime a documentary causes a major PR disaster for what was once a beloved brand, you know it’s a must see. Blackfish traces the history of the killer whales at Sea World, their origin, their inhumane living conditions, and the dangers caused by this. It will certainly make you think twice before buying Sea World tickets.

4) No No: A Dockumentary

“High as a Georgia pine!” No No: A Dockumentary follows the ridiculous life of major league baseball pitcher Dock Ellis, his drug use, his fight for civil rights, and the climate of shifting racial tensions during the 1970s. The documentary also inspired one of the best short animated films we’ve ever seen, covering one of Ellis’ best pitching performances.

3) The House I Live In

A sobering look at the effects of the drug war, The House I Live In covers all the missteps taken by the United States in its attempt to stop drug use. But instead of focusing on drugs, this documentary dives deep into the socio-economic reasons the drug war even exists. Arguably one of the most important documentaries we’ve ever seen.

2) ESPN 30 for 30

OK, this one is cheating a bit, but Netflix has a huge list of 30 for 30 documentaries streaming instantly, and we can say with a lot of confidence that almost all of them are worth watching. From the history of sports to specific names and places, to the greater historical context of competition, the 30 for 30 documentaries are extremely well produced.

1) Planet Earth

Nothing will make you feel quite as small as watching Planet Earth as the documentary series explores every nook and cranny of this beautiful planet we all call home. Not only will Planet Earth make you appreciate nature and its infinite beauty, but it will inspire curiosity to seek out further learning. From the deepest parts of the ocean to the hottest deserts and more, Planet Earth is as breathtaking as it is informative.