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Netflix will unveil its first major documentary in years when The Square becomes available to stream later this week, and by all accounts it’s a masterpiece. The behind-the-headlines story of the Tahrir Square protests during the Egyptian Revolution is piling up rave reviews — it’s currently 100% “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes — ahead of its release at 12:01 AM on Friday.
Now is a great time to get into documentaries, with so much great content right at our fingertips thanks to streaming services — but the sheer volume of “must see” titles can be overwhelming. If you need a road map to critically-acclaimed titles currently available to stream on Netflix, look no further than the list below. I combed through every doc the service offers and isolated the films that are at least 97% “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes (min. 25 critic reviews) — then ranked the results by average rating.
25. Blindsight (2008) — Set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Himalayas, Blindsight follows the gripping adventure of six Tibetan teenagers who set out to climb the 23,000 foot Lhakpa Ri on the north side of Mount Everest. Also, the teenagers are blind. (7.6 average rating on 49 reviews, 98% fresh.)
24. The Order of Myths (2007) — The oldest Mardi Gras in America has been taking place in Mobile, Alabama for more than 300 years. This is the story of its struggle to stay true to its tradition through issues of race and class. (7.7 average rating on 33 reviews, 100% fresh.)
23. Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness (2011) — A portrait of the rebellious writer whose stories helped shape a new modern Jewish identity and became the basis for the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof. (7.7 average rating on 39 reviews, 100% fresh.)
22. Burma VJ: Reporting From a Closed Country (2008) — When Buddhist monks lead a revolt against Burma’s oppressive military dictatorship, a new breed of video journalists captured the revolution using hand-held digital video cameras as state media ignored the uprising. (7.7 average rating on 60 reviews, 97% fresh.)
21. The Devil Came on Horseback (2006) — Former U.S. Marine captain Brian Steidle tells the story of his shocking 2006 trip to Darfur, Sudan, where an Arab-run government is attempting to eradicate black Africans from the province. (7.8 average rating on 53 reviews, 98% fresh.)
20. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2012) — The story of the world’s greatest sushi chef, 85-year-old Jiro Ono, and his 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant located in a Tokyo subway station. (7.8 average rating on 87 reviews, 99% fresh.)
T-18. Thunder Soul (2011) — 35 years after graduating, alumni from Houston’s famed Kashmere High School Stage Band come home to play a tribute concert for their beloved color barrier-breaking band leader, the 92-year-old “Prof.” (7.9 average rating on 27 reviews, 100% fresh.)
T-18. Hell and Back Again (2011) — The story of Marine Sgt. Nathan Harris’s time in Afghanistan and his struggle to re-adjust to civilian life after being seriously injured. (7.9 average rating on 27 reviews, 100% fresh.)
17. Microcosmos (1996) — A visually stunning look at the tiny worlds in a French meadow. Microcosmos captures interactions between insects and other small invertebrates using macroscopic photographic techniques. (8.0 average rating on 31 reviews, 97% fresh.)
16. Call Me Kuchu (2013) — Uganda’s first openly gay man, David Kato, battles persecution and a new state bill that threatens to make homosexuality punishable by death. His fight is cut short by an unspeakable tragedy that shocks the world. (8.0 average rating on 41 reviews, 98% fresh.)
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