15 best documentaries streaming on HBO Max to learn something new

HBO Max presents a rare number of motion pictures, and its documentary library alone has sufficient gems for hours of compelling viewing. We have gone by means of the tons of of documentaries on HBO Max and picked out those you completely have to make time to watch.

These motion pictures show the flexibility of the documentary style, each when it comes to material and kind. They’re going to immerse you in highschool basketball, spelling bees, live shows, fights for racial justice, and a lot extra.

Right here, in no explicit order, are the best documentaries on HBO Max streaming now.

1. 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets

Marc Silver’s 2015 documentary recounts the 2012 demise of teenager Jordan Davis, who was shot a number of instances in a parking zone whereas listening to music with associates. His attacker was discovered responsible of first-degree homicide, however solely after a mistrial and in depth media protection, which the movie follows together with Davis’ associates, household, and trial proceedings. — Proma Khosla, Leisure Reporter *


How to watch: 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets is now streaming on HBO Max.

2. André the Large

HBO’s authentic documentary André the Large is a considerate examination of what it means to be bigger than life. It provides André Roussimoff credit score for his contributions to sports activities leisure by figuring out him as a pioneer who totally understood how gigantism, the medical situation answerable for his seven-foot-four body, might elevate him to the standing of a dwelling fantasy. Interviews with wrestling personalities like Hulk Hogan, Ric Aptitude, and Vince McMahon provide a uncommon glimpse backstage of kayfabe by documenting Roussimoff’s eager consciousness of the awe he impressed and the way his instance reworked the WWF franchise into the huge efficiency showcase that exists now because the WWE. — Alexis Nedd, Senior Leisure Reporter

How to watch: André the Large is now streaming on HBO Max.

3. Class Motion Park

A blue water slide that goes in a loop the loop

Demise entice or enjoyable time?
Credit score: HBO Max

Welcome to Motion Park! This New Jersey amusement and water park, constructed by former Wall Avenue tycoon Gene Mulvihill, was dwelling to sights corresponding to Cannonball Loop and the Alpine Slide. It was additionally severely mismanaged and the reason for many accidents and deaths. Class Motion Park reveals simply how insane the story behind Motion Park was, from the park’s madcap rides to Mulvihill’s shady ways for holding his enterprise afloat.

By way of a mix of enjoyable animation and interviews with comedians who attended Motion Park as kids, Class Motion Park retains issues mild and humorous. Nevertheless, it nonetheless workout routines correct seriousness and restraint when discussing the park’s fatalities. General Class Motion Park is a wild documentary a couple of really wild place – you’ll come for the descriptions of the insane rides and keep for the nuanced exploration of nostalgia and childhood within the Eighties. — Belen Edwards, Leisure Fellow

How to watch: Class Motion Park is now streaming on HBO Max.

4. Every part Is Copy

HBO Movies’ Every part Is Copy is the best sort of love letter: one which’s effusive in its admiration of its topic, but additionally clear-eyed about her quirks and imperfections. Journalist Jacob Bernstein explores the life, profession, and 2012 demise of Nora Ephron — recognized to us as the author and filmmaker behind such motion pictures as Sleepless in Seattle, You have Received Mail, and Julie & Julia, and to Bernstein as his mom.

Interviews with relations and well-known associates (together with Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, and Mike Nichols), together with archival interviews and excerpts from Ephron’s personal work, paint a portrait of a superb and impressive spirit who lived by the motto said within the title: “Every part is copy,” that means that the whole lot that occurs in life may be fodder for a narrative later on. Although you would not mistake Bernstein’s documentary for a piece by Ephron herself, the movie’s heat, candor, and humor make it a becoming tribute to the icon she was. — Angie Han, Deputy Leisure Editor

How to watch: Every part is Copy is now streaming on HBO Max.

5. Gimme Shelter

Initially conceived as a behind the scenes account of the Rolling Stones’ legendary 1969 U.S. tour, Gimme Shelter was finally reworked by the circumstances that unfolded round it. Whereas the movie does delve into varied moments from the UK band’s cross-country journey, its worth as a historic doc is most evident in its on the bottom account of the notorious Altamont Free Live performance in 1970 and the circumstances main up to that day.


California’s try to reproduce the success of Woodstock took the type of an enormous free live performance staged on the Altamont Speedway in 1969, drawing a crowd of about 300,000 individuals. The Hells Angels bike membership supplied safety for the occasion in what turned out to be an ill-fated choice that resulted in a stabbing throughout the Stones efficiency. The filmmaking crew led by Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin captured all of it, and Gimme Shelter, a triumph of the cinéma vérité motion, is the outcome. — Adam Rosenberg, Senior Leisure Reporter

How to watch: Gimme Shelter is now streaming on HBO Max.

6. Gray Gardens

“Little Edie” Beale pictured in Gray Gardens, 1975.
Credit score: Tom Wargacki/Archive Photographs/Getty Photos

Of their famed 1976 movie Gray Gardens, brothers and documentary crew Albert and David Maysles pay a go to to a dilapidated mansion within the Hamptons. There, they profile the intriguing and tragic lives of a reclusive mom and daughter, each named Edith Beale, in an odd and winding character examine in contrast to some other.

Relations of First Woman Jackie Kennedy, the life tales of “Little Edie” and “Huge Edie” are sensationalized within the documentary, and plenty of argue that the movie takes an inherently exploitative view of its topics and their obvious psychological well being circumstances. However so far as fascinating footage goes, Gray Gardens is a must-watch — capturing a singular household on the coronary heart of a broader dialogue in regards to the decline of political royalty and ‘60s-era Americana. — Alison Foreman, Leisure Reporter *

How to watch: Gray Gardens is now streaming on HBO Max.

7. Harlan County, USA

Harlan County, USA drops us into small-town Kentucky within the Seventies to present us a time, a spot, and a neighborhood — and to reveal wheat occurs when a bunch of coal miners go on strike, incurring the wrath of the Duke Energy Firm. Barbara Kopple’s movie follows the miners and their supporters (together with their ferociously decided wives) into the entrance traces of the struggle, from picket traces to city corridor conferences to extra intimate moments of grief or rage or on a regular basis life. 

Because the battle intensifies, spilling over into violence, what emerges is a gritty portrait of hard-won braveness in opposition to an all-too-familiar villain, captured by means of Kopple’s principled perspective. Harlan County, USA gained Best Documentary on the 1977 Oscars, and nearly half a century later, it is nonetheless considered one of many best documentaries of all time. It is as riveting, as highly effective, and pressing because it was the day it was launched. — A.H.

How to watch: Harlan County, USA is now streaming on HBO Max.

8. Hoop Goals

A man in a yellow basketball jersey raises his arms in victory.

Arthur Agee in “Hoop Goals.”
Credit score: Tremendous Line/Kartemquin/Kobal/Shutterstock

Hoop Goals dives into the lives of Arthur Agee and William Gates, two younger males from interior metropolis Chicago who dream of creating it huge within the NBA. Each are recruited to play for St. Joseph’s highschool’s extremely regarded basketball program early on within the movie, however over the subsequent 4 years they take extraordinarily completely different paths. By way of Agee and Gates’ basketball careers, director Steve James explores problems with race, class, and the way sports activities recruitment can cross into the realm of the exploitative and put undue quantities of stress on younger gamers.

What’s astonishing about Hoop Goals is the extent of intimacy James achieves with each Agee and Gates. He follows their journeys on and off the basketball court docket as they and their households expertise parental separations, sports activities accidents, and monetary struggles. The ensuing documentary makes you’re feeling such as you’re experiencing life alongside Agee and Gates, so that you desperately need them to succeed. All of it comes to a head within the thrilling and tense basketball sequences. Although these video games have been performed many years in the past, James makes each missed shot really feel like a misplaced alternative and each profitable play really feel like an enormous victory. — B.E.

How to watch: Hoop Goals is now streaming on HBO Max.

9. 20 Ft From Stardom

Darlene Love. Merry Clayton. Lisa Fischer. Claudia Lennear. Tàta Vega. You may not know these names, however they’ve made a few of the largest musicians of our time sound even higher. Directed by Morgan Neville, Oscar-winning documentary 20 Ft From Stardom is an ode to background singers, lastly handing the microphone over to these powerhouses and tracing their influence over the many years. “There’s an influence to what it’s that we do. Nobody until proper now has publicly acknowledged it,” says Janice Pendarvis, who sang backup for David Bowie, Blondie, and Sting.

Finally, it’s an overwhelmingly fascinating two hours of unbelievable voices that lastly get the popularity they deserve, together with prodigious singer Darlene Love, who discovered her beginnings in The Blossoms, the primary Black background singers working within the studios amongst a predominantly white business, and probably the most prolific session teams of the ’60s — suppose Bobby Pickett’s “Monster Mash,” Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life,” Betty Everett’s “The Shoop Shoop Music.” A few of the singers interviewed have on-screen listening classes of the tracks they supplied backup for — there’s a very sturdy second watching Merry Clayton unpack being a Black singer recording backup for Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Candy House Alabama” throughout the ‘70s (contemplating Alabama noticed many key occasions within the American civil rights motion). — Shannon Connellan, UK Editor *

How to watch: 20 Feet From Stardom is now streaming on HBO Max.

10. Robin Williams: Come Inside My Thoughts

robin williams laughing in 1980

Robin Williams pictured in New York Metropolis, 1980.
Credit score: Sonia Moskowitz/Photos/Getty Photos

Years after Robin Williams’ demise by suicide in 2014, the lack of his expertise and presence nonetheless stings. Come Inside My Thoughts paints a portrait of Williams by means of these closest to him; his son, ex-wife, best associates, and plenty of extra — a portrait of somebody immensely, inordinately gifted who battled psychological sickness for many of his life. Marina Zenovich’s documentary chronicles Williams’ entire life, from a generally lonely childhood to a meteoric comedy rise, habit, relationships, and an typically troubled profession regardless of his cemented standing as a legend. Clips of his performances remind us — although nobody wants reminding — that there was and certain by no means will likely be one other with Williams’ iconic spark of insanity. — P.Okay.

How to watch: Robin Williams: Come Inside My Thoughts is now streaming on HBO Max.

11. Say Her Identify: The Life and Demise of Sandra Bland

sandra bland in front of a red background

Credit score: HBO

When 28-year-old Sandra Bland was arrested for a visitors violation and subsequently discovered hanged in her jail cell days later, a two-year authorized ordeal started. Filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner doc the household’s battle with regulation enforcement whereas sharing Bland’s personal video blogs and historical past of activism. Although her demise was dominated a suicide, it stays surrounded by questions and the indisputable fact that it could possibly’t be undone. — P.Okay. *

How to watch: Say Her Identify: The Life and Demise of Sandra Bland is now streaming on HBO Max.

12. Spellbound

Spellbound has all of it: Suspense. Fascinating characters. Heroes and villains. Twists and turns. Nevermind that the documentary’s topic is a nationwide spelling bee competitors.

The Academy Award-nominated documentary, launched in 2002, chronicled the occasions of the 1999 Scripps Nationwide Spelling Bee, which is the spelling competitors equal of the Tremendous Bowl in the US. By sticking to a spotlight on the opponents themselves, Spellbound director Jeffrey Blitz weaves an enchanting image of high-level competitors and the personalities that assist to form it. — A.R.

How to watch: Spellbound is now streaming on HBO Max.

The Simpsons’ Apu Nahasapeemapetilon might not have bothered most viewers, however Hari Kondabolu’s deep dive into the characters origins and legacy reveal a racist caricature that broken a complete era of South Asian Individuals. The Downside With Apu reveals simply how dangerous Apu was at a time when South Asians have been virtually invisible, particularly in Hollywood, the place brown face and offensive accents stood in for precise illustration till — properly, they nonetheless do.

Kondabolu, an acclaimed comic, speaks with many profitable contemporaries — together with Aasif Mandvi, Kal Penn, Sakina Jaffrey, Hasan Minhaj, and plenty of extra — all of whom at the moment are shining examples of South Asian American expertise and tales, who carry Apu’s burden to at the present time. — P.Okay.

How to watch: The Downside with Apu is now streaming on HBO Max.

14. Transhood

A young woman crosses her fingers.

Leena at a modeling audition in “Transhood.”
Credit score: HBO

In Transhood, director Sharon Liese paperwork the lives of Phoenix, Avery, Jay, and Leena, 4 transgender kids and youngsters dwelling in Kansas Metropolis, over the course of 5 years. It’s a transferring portrait of its topics’ – ages 4, 7, 12, and 15 at the beginning of filming – childhoods and transitions.

Transhood is intimate however by no means invasive, following its topics with a caring and understanding eye. From consultations about gender-affirming remedies to interactions with associates, we get to know Phoenix, Avery, Jay, and Leena, in addition to their mother and father, whose assist and sacrifices gas a few of the movie’s most emotional moments. Transhood doesn’t select to carry Phoenix, Jay, Avery, or Leena up as monoliths of the trans expertise. Quite, it celebrates the variations and similarities between their journeys and finds the wonder of their transitions, all whereas inspiring nice quantities of compassion and empathy. — B.E.

How to watch: Transhood is now streaming on HBO Max.

15. Welcome to Chechnya

The third movie from Academy Award-nominated documentarian David France, Welcome to Chechnya takes viewers on a guerilla-style investigation into the anti-gay purges that also plague the constituent republic of Russia.

Not solely does the explosive challenge element the abhorrent insurance policies created by Vladimir Putin and Chechen chief Ramzan Kadyrov to criminalize homosexuality, it additionally delves into the insidious tradition the federal government has instilled in its residents to encourage hate crimes. It’s a painful watch that calls for consideration from viewers, focusing largely on the brave efforts of underground networks working to assist LGBTQ individuals escape the area.

What makes this doc stand out is the urgency. Documentary filmmaking will help us study points or occasions in larger element, in addition to protect them for the historic document. Welcome to Chechnya does each with heartbreaking heroism, urging western audiences to on the very least acknowledge the genocide that continues to at the present time. — A.F.

How to watch: Welcome to Chechnya is now streaming on HBO Max.

Asterisks (*) point out the write up comes from a earlier Mashable checklist.

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