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?

Pina_still
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.