Documentaries Have Entered a Golden Age. Vote for the Best Here.

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 17 2012 12:51 PM

The Golden Age of Documentaries: What’s the Best Doc of the Last 5 Years?

Still from Win Wenders' Pina.

© 2011 - IFC

This week in Slate, Eric Hynes declares, “We’re in a Golden Age of Documentary Filmmaking.” He points out that while the Oscars continue to treat documentaries as nothing more than a salubrious side-dish (they’re usually only considered in one category, while dramatic features get 20 shots at bringing home an Oscar), they’ve come to represent about a third of our theatrical releases—and perhaps an even larger portion of our best films.

To give this flourishing era its due, we compiled a list of some of the best documentaries of the last five years, and we want you to vote for your favorites. Hynes submitted a list of about 25 documentaries—mining nominees from winners of the Village Voice film poll, indieWIRE’s annual poll, and the Oscars—and we added a handful of the most popular non-fiction features. There were so many excellent movies to choose from that we tried to limit directors to one entry, even in the case of some of our favorite documentary filmmakers (sorry, Werner Herzog).

Part of Hynes’s argument is that this age has been underappreciated—that the Oscars have frequently bungled the category, and that distributors have failed to give many great films their due—so we don’t expect that all of you will have seen every last one of these films. Still, we’re curious to learn which ones many people have seen, and which ones they like best.

Poll closes Thursday, Feb. 23, at noon.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 


Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Republicans Like Scott Walker Are Building Campaigns Around Problems That Don’t Exist

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

The World

Iran and the U.S. Are Allies

They’re just not ready to admit it yet.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 4:08 PM More Than Scottish Pride Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 1:27 PM The Veronica Mars Spinoff Is Just Amusing Enough to Keep Me Watching
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 1:48 PM Why We Need a Federal Robotics Commission
  Health & Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.