I saw an incredible amount of fantastic movies in 2013, many of which happened to be documentaries. As a matter of fact, I saw so many great documentaries this past year that when it came time to do my best movies of the year list I thought it would be best to simply do two separate lists. And in doing so, it really gives me the opportunity to showcase a handful of docs that made an impact on me in one way or another in 2013.
10. The '80s: The Decade That Made Us
I was born in the late ‘70s, therefore I spent 10 years of my young life living in the ‘80s, so this six-part documentary that aired on the National Geographic Channel was certainly of great interest to me. Going over everything from politics, fashion trends, pop culture, disasters, and everything in between, this informative and dense series covers the decade of decadence in a way that makes for the perfect outline for the 1980s. Truly a fascinating watch, and I really hope that National Geographic decides to dig into other decades with such depth.
9. GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling
Speaking of the ‘80s, nothing speaks to me more than the silly fashions and cheesiness of that decade, and every ounce of this documentary – which lovingly looks back on the short lived history of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling – exudes such cheese with pure nostalgic delight. The story of GLOW is an entertaining and interesting watch, but what gives this doc a nice boost is the fact that there is some heart to it. There are some incredibly touching moments, which really add weight to the impact that this organization had on its wrestlers and fans alike.
8. 30 for 30: The Price of Gold
The story of Nancy Kerrigan bring attacked at the 1994 Winter Olympics was such a huge story when I was a teenager, but it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to watch The Price of Gold that I learned that Tonya Harding wasn’t quite the villain I, and likely most of America, thought she was. In fact, what really came to light throughout this documentary is the fact that Harding was, in many ways, a victim herself. Being the black eye of women’s ice skating, Tonya Harding was a victim of classism and was persecuted as such, even before the ‘94 Olympics. While it’s never very clear how much of a role she played in the attack on Kerrigan, if any at all, it is clear that her road to gold was never meant to be smooth, despite her every best effort.
7. The Square
I somewhat followed the events of the Egyptian revolution in Tahrir Square a few years back, though I honestly cannot act as if I truly understood everything that was going on. The Square, however, made me feel as if I was in on this revolution in a way that made it feel palpable and real; not just some five minute news story jammed in between tales of teen pop stars gone wrong and killer women on trial. The Square shed light on a struggle I did not understand while also giving me a true feeling of inspiration knowing that there are people out there who are willing to fight for what they think is right; to fight for something worth fighting for. The Square is the type of documentary that makes me appreciate my life because, compared to what these people are going through, I have nothing to bitch about.
While I am far from being a member of PETA, I am certainly someone who is sympathetic to the treatment of animals, and nothing chaps my ass worse than seeing animals be neglected for profit. Naturally the filmmakers had a clear agenda with Blackfish and the film is focused on portraying that agenda, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that what is done to the animals themselves is simply awful.
5. Cutie and the Boxer
Quirky, adorable and touching, Cutie and the Boxer is a fascinating film that encapsulates the lifelong struggles faced by famous Japanese artist Noriko Shinohara and his wife Ushio. The relationship between Noriko and Ushio is filled with regret, complaisance and even a touch of jealousy, but there is only one way a couple who has lived such a tumultuous life could have survived together for so long.
4. The Imposter
The Imposter is a documentary so wild that it’s difficult to believe that the events contained within could have ever happened. A grown man with a French accent and completely different facial features being able to successfully impersonate a missing Texas boy is insane, and that’s only the beginning of this captivating and unpredictable story of a conman and the family who accepted him as their own son.
3. A Band Called Death
Whether it be a book, a film or – in the case of A Band Called Death – a band, there’s a swell of excitement that comes with uncovering a hidden gem. You want to tell everyone worthy of such a discovery about it as soon as possible so they too can join in on the joy that you are feeling. This is essentially the basis for A Band Called Death, a documentary that is as much about discovery as it is rediscovery. However, while that aspect is certainly a huge part of what makes the documentary such an enlightening watch, the real heart of the film comes from the story of redemption it tells.
2. Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th
Seeing as horror is my bread and butter, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a nearly 7 hour documentary that focuses on one of my favorite horror franchises is very high on my favorite documentaries list. Crystal Lake Memories is an expansive, informative and entertaining look at the history of the Friday the 13th franchise, giving equals amounts of coverage to each and every film in the series, regardless of quality or fandom.
1. The Act of Killing
If I could only use one word to describe my feelings about The Act of Killing, that word would be shock. The fact that Indonesian death squads composed of self proclaimed “gangsters” murdered thousands of people for being of a different belief is shocking. The fact that it happened in the past 60 is shocking. The fact that some of the men who participated in such acts are proud of what they have done is shocking. The Act of Killing is a grim reminder that atrocities are a dime a dozen in this world, and while the film is indeed a tough watch, it’s one that, in my opinion, is too important not to see.
That’s all I got. If you have any thoughts about my list, be it positive, negative or somewhere in between, please let me know in the comment’s section. Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out my best of the year list by clicking the link below: