Man can not live on fiction alone, of course – and in an era when “fake news” has become a catch-all battle cry, the need for capturing and chronicling the world around us has only made documentary filmmaking that much more necessary. If there are indeed precious few positive things to say about 2017, you can at least declare that it was a strong year for docs – the last 12 months gave us marathon-length looks at musical legends and actors going off the deep end, stories of working-class families in Philly and woke convicts in Folsom Prison, portraits of anger on the streets of Ferguson and the City of Angels on fire. Don’t even get us started on the unclassifiable docu-hybrid on drunk Polish millennials that blew our mind. And that was just the tip of the great-vérité iceberg.
Below are the 10 best documentaries we caught in 2017. Some may be tough to track down, while others are merely a Netflix click away. All of them, however, are not only worth your time but make for vital viewing – snapshots and state-of-the-nation addresses that reflect on the here and now, even when the events portrayed happened decades ago. Your dose of reality starts here.
(Honorable mentions also go out to: Casting JonBenet, The Challenge, Contemporary Color, Dawson City: Frozen Time, I Called Him Morgan, Jane, Last Men in Aleppo, May It Last, Oklahoma City, Rat Film, 78/52 and Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk. You should hunt all of these down as well. Like we said, it was an incredible year for docs.)