While documentaries don’t have record breaking opening weekend or garner reams of publicity they have become more popular in recent years. With documentary film makers like Michael Moore and Alex Gibney 2015 proved to be a great year for documentaries. Tackling subjects like Scientology and Mexican drug cartels, documentaries prove they can compete with the fictional realm, leaving enlightened and educated on the topics they tackle. The quality of the documentaries produced in 2015 made narrowing it down to the top five challenging, but here are the picks for top 5 documentaries of 2015.
“Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck”
Every year a slew of documentaries featuring fabled musicians are released and 2015 was no exception, unfortunately most documentaries barely scratch the surface of the musical icons they are trying to cover. Montage of Heck proved to be the exception. Kurt Cobain was one of the biggest musical stars of his generation and there are already several films about his life. Montage of Heck , had his daughter Frances on board as an executive producer and the filmed delved into his early life. With most documentaries focusing strictly on the rockstar, this film goes further and focuses on Kurt Cobain the man.
“Requiem for the American Dream”
In a series of interviews taking place over four years with renowned American social critic, Noam Chomsky discusses income inequality in America today. Chomsky discusses the political policies that have lead to unprecedented income inequality.
There have been no shortage of films featuring the drug cartels in Mexico and their impact on American culture. Cartel Land is different, it focuses on two vigilantes who decide to take on the cartels themselves. Mexican doctor Jose Mireles battle drug dealers in Mexico that authorities will not touch, the other is American Nailer Foley who patrols the border on the American side looking for scouts from the cartels. Of the two figures Mireles is far more interesting, becoming a revolutionary figure at home while becoming as brutal as the cartels. It’s a complex look at battling the cartels and taking the law into your own hands.
“Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief”
Alex Gibnney, a renowned documentary film maker this time takes on the Church of Scientology. In this film he interviews ex-Scientologists including Oscar winning screen writer Paul Haggis and former high ranking members Mike Rinder and Marty Rathburn. The film tackles the origins of Scientology and features lots of footage of founder L. Ron Hubbard as well as taking shots at the organization’s tax exempt status. He exposes the Church and the belief systems that allow members to hand over their loyalty and of course their cash.
“Where to Invade Next”
A list of compelling documentaries would be incomplete without a contribution from filmmaker Michael Moore. Like his previous works, Fahrenheit 911 and Bowling for Columbine, Where to Invade Next is raw, gritty and takes a long hard look at American exceptionalism. Traveling around the world as a one man “invader” Moore takes a look at ideas to steal from other countries and bring back to America. He looks at everything from prison systems in Norway to progressive women’s policies taking shape in Tunisia. Throughout his travels Moore discovers much that Americans should try and emulate right here at home.