Best Documentaries of 2022

Delve into 10 wonderful documentaries that made LJ’s Best of 2022 list. They cover subjects as diverse as bees, music, art history, and incarceration.

Best Documentaries of 2022

American Horses. Eric Bendick, PBS/Nature. 2022. DVD UPC 4188704618. Animals

Horses have played a pivotal role in American history, and this fascinating PBS doc is a blend of both history and horses via the importance of four equine breeds: Mustang, Morgan, Appaloosa, and Quarter.

Augmented. Matthew Orr, PBS/Nova. 2022. UPC DVD 4188704626. Med/Sci Tech

Hugh Herr, a MIT biophysicist who lost both legs when he was 17, dreams of becoming a cyborg. This documentary is an awe-inspiring combination of medicine and technology, showing that, in the near future, the link between human and machine is going to become a medical reality.

The Beatles: Get Back. Peter Jackson, Disney. 2021. UPC Blu-ray 8693689459. Performing Arts

In 1969, one of the greatest bands in rock history allowed cameras inside the studio as they recorded a new album. This epic documentary is an intimate snapshot of band dynamics and the creative process as the Fab Four were splintering apart.

Girls Can’t Surf. Christopher Nelius, Gravitas Ventures. 2020. UPC DVD 1009777032. Sports/Social Science

Feminism and athletics meet in an empowering look at groundbreaking women in the professional surfing world of the 1980s as they battled stereotypes, lower pay, and old-fashioned misogyny while wanting to catch some good waves.

The Lost Leonardo. Andreas Koefoed, Sony Pictures Classic. 2021. UPC 4339657770. Fine Arts

This is more thriller than documentary as it tells the story of the legitimacy of a lost 16th-century Leonardo da Vinci painting. Questionable morals and the desire to make hundreds of millions of dollars collide in the art world.

My Garden of a Thousand Bees. Martin Dohrn, PBS/Nature. 2021. UPC DVD 4188704605. Natural Science

Renowned nature cinematographer Dohrn saw opportunity when the pandemic shut down the world—he focused on his backyard and the magical, hidden habitat of a bee population. A stunning glimpse into an unseen world.

A Song for Cesar. Andres Alegria & Abel Sanchez, Video Project. 2021. UPC DVD 96852687183. Biography

Blending social activism, art, and music, this is a rousing tribute to the beloved labor organizer Cesar Chavez. Inspirational and a valuable history lesson.

Summer of Soul. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Searchlight Pictures. 2021. UPC DVD 8693689416. Performing Arts/Cultural History

Bursting with life and energy, this Oscar winner brings attention to incredible musical performances while also being a joyous celebration of Black culture and Harlem amid the social and cultural zeitgeist of the late 1960s.

Time. Garrett Bradley, Criterion Collection. 2020. UPC DVD 1551526751. $29.95. Social Science

Filmed over two decades, this love story follows Sibil and Robert Richardson, whose family was shattered by a failed bank robbery in 1997. It is their powerful, hope-filled journey through the abyss of incarceration.

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