15. 'The Vietnam War' (PBS)
Ken Burns' 10-episode, 18-hour history of the Vietnam War could be his most powerful documentary yet. (A welcome surprise after the smarm of The Roosevelts, which suggested that the auteur might have gotten too soft to handle history's sharp edges.) The filmmaker and longtime collaborator Lynn Novick go into the U.S.'s disastrous adventure in Southeast Asia, mixing raw combat footage with the testimony of soldiers (American and Vietnamese), nurses and war resisters. Some of the saddest – and most chilling – moments come from listening to LBJ hector journalists on the phone, as he scrounges for some hint that he might be doing the right thing. The Vietnam War has a sorry sense of waste about the whole catastrophe ... and how little America learned from it.