10 Best Documentaries of 2017

From families in Philly to protests in Ferguson, sweat shops in Calcutta to head trips in Haight-Ashbury – our picks for the year's best, boldest docs

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8. 'Long Strange Trip'

You do not need to be a tie-dyed-in-the-wool Deadhead (though it definitely doesn't hurt) to appreciate Amir Bar-Lev's marathon-length look at the Grateful Dead, as they morph from acid-test house band to acoustic road hogs to a corporate jam-band juggernaut. Yes, there's concert footage and talking-head testimonials and folks rhapsodizing about the time that saw what really was the best version of "Dark Star." But the doc also digs into the darker side of the group's world, framing how the drugs and outlaw types and dangerous living was the scarred flip-side of their do-your-own-thing coin. Joy is ever-present; so is death. And at the center of it all is Jerry Garcia, a complicated artist who kept chasing after freedom though musical exploration and eventually became a prisoner of what he'd created. You won't think four hours of this trip is nearly long enough.

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