The Highest Rated Netflix Documentaries, According To Rotten Tomatoes

When you think of Netflix documents, most would immediately think of some of the more popular releases, such as Making a Murderer (2015) or Tiger King (2020). Since Netflix has begun pushing out multiple documentary titles, viewers are regularly finding themselves blown away by Oscar-worthy takes on corruption, murder, mystery, or something in between.

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Because of the wealth of content available on the streaming giant, it can be tough to narrow down the good, the bad, and the ugly. Luckily, Rotten Tomatoes has come in clutch, generating the highest-rated Netflix documents — helping you decipher exactly what your next watch should be.

10) ‘My Octopus Teacher’ (2020)


Screengrab from My Octopus Teacher.

You’ve seen bonds between people from all different walks of life — now, prepare yourself for the bond between a man and an octopus. My Octopus Teacherdirected by Pippa Ehrlich and James Readfollows filmmaker Craig Foster, as he documents his experiences free diving in South Africa. In time, he meets a young octopus that captured his attention, and their growing bond is documented over many years.

Winning Best Documentary Feature at the 93rd Academy Awards, the film is a heartfelt take on the bonds we feel with animals and nature alike. With a 93% Tomatometer rating and 91% Audience Score, animals lovers can’t go wrong with the beauty that is My Octopus Teacher.

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9) ‘The Battered Bastards of Baseball’ (2014)


A screengrab from The Battered Bastards of Baseball.

An A-team composed of players based in Oregon that no one wanted — this shapes the story of The Battered Bastards of Baseball. The Portland Mavericks were an independent team — without a parent team in the major leagues, and this documentary details their story — a treat for baseball fans far and wide.

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The film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival with a standing ovation — a testament to its feel-good underdog premise. Directed by Chapman & Maclain Waya 100% Tomatometer rating and 95% Audience Score speaks for itself.


8) ‘Giving Voice’ (2020)


A screengrab from Giving Voice (2020).

Glee club meets dramatic performance in Giving Voice, in which students from across the United States audition for a spot in the August Wilson Monologue Competition. Inspiration and dedication culminate in one final round on Broadway, where the stakes are high, and the odds are low.

Premiering at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and winning the Festival Favorite award, it’s no surprise that this Netflix documentary is a fan favorite. Giving Voicedirected by James D. Stern and Fernando Villenahas a 100% Tomatometer score, an 85% Audience Score, and the ability to move you all at once.

7) ‘Chasing Coral’ (2017)


A screengrab from Chasing Coral (2017).

With climate change on the backburner of everyone’s mind, coral reefs are at a particular risk. As coral reefs globally seem to vanish at shocking rates, in comes Chasing Coral. This film directed by Jeff Orlowskidocuments a group of divers, scientists, and photographers who have come together to determine the issue behind coral reefs disappearing, uncovering the mystery to the world.

Chasing Coral premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and won the Audience Award for US Documentary. With a 100% Tomatometer score and 89% Audience score, it’s no surprise that viewers all over the globe are captivated by this environmental mystery.

6) ‘A Secret Love’ (2020)


A screengrab from A Secret Love (2020).

There are no denying times are a-changing — but for a long time, secrets had to be kept. Amid shifting times, a former baseball player. Terry Donahue keeps her lesbian relationship secret for seven decades as she and her partner, Pat Henschelrun a successful interior design business.

Based on the true story of the great aunts of director Chris Bolan, the film captivated audiences whilst telling a beautiful story of love and resilience. The scores speak for themselves – with a 100% Tomatometer score, and a 91% Audience score.


5) ‘Athlete A’ (2020)


A screengrab from Athlete A (2020).

We all remember the investigation surrounding USA Gymnastics and various sexual assault claims that were made — this is documented by Athlete A (2020). Directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, the film follows a team of girls from The Indianapolis Star as they broke the story that gripped the nation by its throat.

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The title refers to gymnast Maggie Nichols — Athlete A being the pseudonym used to protect her identity during investigations. With a 100% Tomatometer and 93% Audience Score, Athlete A is a captivating take at what was such a harrowing time for USA Gymnastics

4) ‘Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend Of Walter Mercado’ (2020)


A screengrab from Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado (2020).

The career and life of Walter Mercado have been followed for years. Mercado was an astrologist, and one of the most influential at that — in both Latin America and the world. Directed by Cristina Constantini and Kareem Tabsch, Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado follows Mercado’s early life as a gifted child, as well as his chronicles with dance, acting, and eventually, performative astrology using elaborate costumes, colors, and capes.

With a nomination at the 93rd Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature, a 100% Tomatometer score, and a 92% Audience Scorel, it’s safe to say that his story makes for an entertaining and intriguing watch.

3) ‘Shirkers’ (2018)


A screengrab from Shirkers (2018).

Coming in third is a film within a film — just call it filmception. In 1992, filmmaker Sandi Tan shoots a road movie called Shirkers with her mentor Georges Cardona. After shooting wrapped, Cardona disappeared with the footage and was never seen by Tan again. When the footage is eventually recovered in 2011, Tan decides to digitize the footage and used it to make a documentary about the process of obtaining, then losing, the footage for the film.

The documentary of the same name premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, winning the World Cinema Documentary Directing Awards. Achieving a 99% score on the Tomatometer and a 79% Audience Score, it’s clear that Tan’s transformation of old footage into a digitized documentary is highly recommended, making it a true pleasure to watch.


2) ‘Dick Johnson Is Dead’ (2020)


A screengrab from Dick Johnson Is Dead (2020).

Filmmaker Kirsten Johnson takes a deep dive into her father near the end of his life in Dick Johnson is Dead. Using inventive and comical ways to stage his death, the film takes black humor to a whole other level, after a dream of her father in a casket inspired the work.

Premiering at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, they won the US Documentary Special Jury Award for Innovation in Nonfiction Storytelling. With a 100% Tomatometer score and a 77% Audience score, Johnson manages to take the painful loss of a parent and turn it into a celebration of his life.

1) ‘Crip Camp’ (2020)


A screengrab from Crip Camp (2020).

In 1971, Camp Jened took place — a summer camp in New York that was described as a “loose, free-spirited camp designed for teens with disabilities.” The film, directed by Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnhamhas a focus on camps who turned themselves into for the disability rights movement, following their fight for accessibility legislation.

With its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and the winner of the Sundance Award, it’s no wonder that this Netflix documentary tops our list. With a 100% Tomatometer score and a 90% Audience score, Crip Camp is definitely a solid watch.

KEEP READING: The 25 Best Documentaries on Netflix Right Now


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