Monday, January 27, 2014

My Top 10 Favorite Documentaries

Just some documentaries that I have found to love (or at least appreciate) over the years.

Honorable mentions:

-Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL? (2009)

Director Mike Tollin goes on a search to find the reasons behind the downfall of the almost USFL; a would-be potential rival  to the NFL whose legacy is almost completely obscure nowadays. Features guest appearances by Burt Renyolds, Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Doug Floutie, and Donald Trump.  

Watch it here:

-Broke (2012)

This ESPN 30 for 30 documentary takes a look into the sobering realities of financial distress that most professional athletes face after retirement. There are notable guest appearances by people such as Andre Rison, Bart Scott, and ESPN personality Herman Edwards. I think guys like these would have something to learn from seeing this.
-The Costco Craze: Inside the Warehouse Giant (2011)

CNBC turns their attention towards the megastar company Costco and the secrets behind their massive profitability. Some include their ability to sell things in bulk and mark down their prices only 15%, compared to 25% for the average grocer. It is a great documentary for someone interested in learning how to run a mega corporation one day.
-Four Days in October (2010) 

Four Days in October details the Boston Red Sox's four straight wins over their rivals, The New York Yankees in the 2004 ALCS. What made this comeback legendary in Boston sports lore was the fact that they are the only MLB team to comeback from a 3-0 series deficit. Great documentary to watch if you either a) love Boston sports, or b) love comeback stories.   
-Supersize Me (2004)

Morgan Spurlock becomes a personal guinea pig for McDonald's and their food in Supersize Me. After running some tests to assure his initial health, Morgan Spurlock decides to eat nothing but McDonald's for an entire month. He also addresses the topics of obesity and health issues overall in America, which include fast food advertising to children and the nutritional value in many school lunches. Good documentary for those of us who are health conscious. 

Watch it here:

-Before the Music Dies (2006)

Before the Music Dies explores the negative aspect of the hyper-commercialization of American music in the past 30 years across almost all major genres, which include Rock n' Roll, Jazz, Country, Rap, and R&B, among others. Notable guest appearances include Eric Clapton and Eryka Badu.

Watch it here:
Now, onto the countdown!

My Top 10 Documentaries:

10) The Freshest Kids (2002)

The Freshest Kids explores the world of B-boy culture, from its rise to fame down to its initial fall and the underground legacy of many B-boy crews such as the legendary Rock Steady Crew. The film also goes into detail about the many influences that surrounded B-boy culture, such as capoeira and James Brown. Easily one of the best Hip-Hop documentaries I've seen.

Watch it here:

9) Freestyle: the Art of Rhyme (2000)

Director Kevin Fitzgerald goes in depth about the history of freestyling and the impact that off-the dome rhyming has had on the overall art of MC'ing. There are guest appearances by notable rappers such as Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and underground rapper Supernatural.If you want to hear some absolutely amazing freestyles, give this film a try.  

Watch it here:

8) Survive and Advance (2013)

Survive and Advance details the improbable postseason run of the 1982-1983 NC State Wolfpack under head coach Jimmy Valvano. The events of that season are especially reminisced upon by the former players in their 30 year reunion. One of the legendary sports moments of that season is the game winning put-back in the Division I national championship game. Definitely one of the better sports inspirational films.  

Watch it here:

7) Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks (2010) 

Director Dan Klores details the intense rivalry between The New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers in the mid-90's. Winning Time especially addresses the rivalry between Reggie Miller and Patrick Ewing and John Starks during their two playoff meetings in 1994 and 1995. One important scene to note is Reggie Miller's 8 points in 9 seconds during Game 1 of the '95 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Watch it here:

6) Cocaine Cowboys (2006)

Cocaine Cowboys details the major players and smuggling methods of the recession-resistant Miami drug trade of the '70's and '80's. The film also focuses on one such player: the ultra-notorious drug queenpin Johnny Griselda. For the most part, it is a great behind the scenes look at the intense violence between drug factions and the cocaine obsessions of a lot of weekend partiers and hardcore coke addicts of that era.

Watch it here:

5) Beats. Rhymes, and Life: The Lifetime and Travels of A Tribe Called Quest (2011)

Actor and music fan Michael Rapport sheds some light on legendary Hip-Hop group A Tribe Called Quest. The film details the accounts of each member's childhoods and the group's formation. It also goes in depth on their rise to prominence, personal issues and beefs within the group, and their eventual breakup in 1998. A must see for all hip-Hop fans (or music fans in general).

Watch it here:

4) Wolf Pack (2004)

This BBC documentary is one of many that takes a look into one of nature's most misunderstood and feared creatures: the wolf. The film revolves around the monitoring of several dozen wolves that have been relocated to certain parts America in order to help repopulate the endangered areas. This film is especially important to me, seeing as how my spiritual animal is a wolf.

Watch it here:

3) Slavery By Another Name (2012)

This PBS documentary shows the hidden side of America's emergence from the Civil War and its prosperity post-Reconstruction Era (1865-1877). The film focuses on how 'self-made' businessmen such as Clyde S. Williams abused loopholes in the Constitution in order to make their economical empire off of the backs of former slaves through a combination of extremely petty Jim Crow laws and both real and imagined debt that some of the former slaves owed. Even though peonage (debt-slavery) was made illegal in 1867, it still went on under the table until an investigation in the early 20th century exposed it to the public. This is an essential to any American history class.

Watch it here:

2) Hidden Colors: The Untold History of Aboriginal, Moor, and African Descent (2011)

Director Tariq Nasheed and others go in depth about Black history that has been deliberately kept secret from the majority of the public. Features guest appearances from people such as Umar Johnson, Phil Valentine, and Sharazad Ali. This is another documentary that needs to be shown in every American history classroom.

1) The U (2009)

Billy Corben returns in this 30 for 30 documentary that details the rise of the dominance of the University of Miami Hurricanes' football program during the 1980's. Features guest appearances from Bernie Kozar, Jeremy Shockey, Michael Irvin, and dozens of other former players who played for the Hurricanes. A must-see for all college football fans.

Watch it here: