Last Updated on 17 December 2023

I searched the Internet for lists of the best documentary movies of all time. Criteria included the movies being ranked, not just listed, and generally created by groups, whether teams or committees or based on general public voting (like

I was able to find 20 lists. I took the 20 lists and added all their content into a spreadsheet, noting the rank of every film. I ended up averaging the rankings each documentary got (there were 207 that were on at least 2 lists) and dividing that average by a factor of the number of lists that movie was on. The lowest score meant a high ranking average on many lists. The complete spreadsheet is attached at the bottom.

The movies that were on the most lists (out of 20) were:

  • Hoop Dreams (1994) – 18 lists
  • Man on Wire (2008) – 17 lists
  • Grizzly Man (2005) – 16 lists
  • Shoah (1985) – 14 lists
  • The Act of Killing (2012) – 13 lists
  • The Last Waltz (1978) – 13 lists
  • Man with a Movie Camera (1929) – 12 lists
  • Crumb (1994) – 12 lists
  • When We Were Kings (1996) – 12 lists

Here are links to the lists I used along with dates the lists were created: