Best Documentaries of 2020

These Best Documentary selections include films newly available to libraries that are both important and intriguing. We hope these picks provide a means for readers’ advisory and (socially distanced) conversation.

These Best Documentary selections include films newly available to libraries that are both important and intriguing. We hope these picks provide a means for readers’ advisory and (socially distanced) conversation.
 
See also LJ's picks of Best Audiobooks and Best Feature Videos of 2020.
 
After Parkland. 92+ min. Kino Lorber. 2019. DVD UPC 738329242749. $29.95.
After Parkland is a gripping, raw, and brutally honest portrayal of the effects of gun violence in the aftermath of a 2018 school shooting. It is devastatingly intimate, with survivors opening their hearts as they grieve their collective loss as a community.
 
The Bikes of Wrath. 104+ min. Doss Flamingoss. 2019. DVD. $24.99.
Inspired by John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, five Australians retrace the journey of the Joads from Oklahoma to California on bikes. Viewers get a slow-motion travelogue and history lesson as the Aussies discover the generosity of strangers while considering the economic divide in the United States.
 
Creem: America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine. 75+ min. Greenwich Entertainment. 2019. DVD UPC 738329249373 $19.95.
Rock music fans will lap up this humorous tale of the raucous inner workings of Creem, the 1970s magazine that was unapologetically freewheeling, opinionated, politically incorrect, and run by misfits.
 
Desert One. 108+ min. Kino Lorber. 2019. DVD UPC 738329250485. $19.95.
Fascinating and riveting, this work covers the story of the failed 1980 Iranian hostage rescue mission from every possible angle. Including perspectives from both sides of the conflict, it seamlessly shifts from informative documentary to Hollywood-esque thriller.
 
Fiddlin’. 92+ min. Utopia. 2018. DVD UPC 810017888016. $19.95.
A joyous celebration of Appalachian music around a fiddler’s convention in Virginia, Fiddlin’ is chock-full of great old-timey music played lovingly by people of all ages. Watching it might inspire viewers to pick a fiddle or banjo.
 
John Lewis: Good Trouble. 96+ min. Magnolia Pictures. 2020. DVD UPC 876964016995. $26.98.
This is a rousing story of John Lewis’s lifelong fight against racism and social injustice, journeying from his Alabama roots to the front lines. Lewis worked ceaselessly to inspire others to use their voices for what he called “good trouble.”
 
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound. 95+ min. Good Movies Entertainment. 2019. DVD UPC 812034039075. $14.99.
Movies have never sounded better and film lovers will find much to enjoy in Making Waves, the story of the use of sound in cinema. It’s full of wonderful examples of the craft and includes many prominent people from the industry.
 
Slay the Dragon. 104+ min. Magnolia Pictures. 2020. DVD UPC 876964016933. $26.97.
There are many troubling elements to the modern world of politics, but one that gets completely eviscerated in the scathing Slay the Dragon is the current use of complex data to gerrymander voting districts with extremely partisan intent.
 
Spaceship Earth. 113+ min. Neon. 2020. DVD UPC 810044713367. $19.99.
In 1991, a group of eight “bionauts” entered an Arizona biosphere with the goal of living for two years inside the structure with no outside help. Things didn’t go as expected for the idealistic, scientific dreamers.
 
Stuffed. 84+ min. Music Box Films. 2019. DVD UPC 751778951451. $29.99.
An utterly beguiling film about taxidermy. Yes, taxidermy. Stuffed focuses on a wide range of individuals who have elevated the mysterious and misunderstood tradition into an art form in this quirky charmer.
 
See also LJ's picks of Best Audiobooks and Best Feature Videos of 2020.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER?

We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing

ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER?