5 Documentaries You Should Have on Your Netflix List

by Ryan Young

Netflix is a brilliant and powerful thing, just ask Blockbuster (remember those late fees?) and soon cable providers (remember those channels you never watch?). Some of the best new series, old favorites and most awesomely horrible horror films can be found in one place for a lovely $7.99 per month.  One aspect of Netflix that gets lost in all the House of Cards, Daredevil and Orange Is The New Black fervor is its documentary selection. 

Below are five documentaries that I consider must see tv (is that even the right term now?). From getting a deeper understanding of how American food companies are supplementing the obesity epidemic to finding the origin of street style photographers, Netflix is a great learning tool to expand your knowledge of the world around you.

Also, we'd like to hear your favorites not mentioned here.  Drop a line in the comments section if you have some good ones to watch. 

(Click on film photo to watch trailer)



Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)

3 Stars is the highest honor a restaurant can achieve according to the Michelin rating system, yet a nine seat hole in the wall in Ginza, Chūō, Tokyo, Japan has earned this billing. This beautifully shot doc follows the routine of Jiro Ono, 85-year old sushi artist/pioneer and owner of world renowned Sukiyabashi Jiro.  Through the eyes of his two sons (also sushi chefs) and esteemed food critics, we find out how Jiro’s never-ending devotion to every aspect of his craft produces a meal you need to book 9-months in advance for.  


Bill Cunningham New York

Street style photo blogs are everywhere these days. Whether Tumblr or Instagram, I bet you scroll through numerous photos catching the unsuspecting fashionista or style-cat in mid stride, while wearing something to inspire imagination.  Meet Bill Cunningham, 86-year old New Yorker that largely started what some people call a profession now.  For the past 40 years he’s been riding his old school bike through NYC snapping quick shots of the outfits that inspire him and posting them in the New York Times.  As with Jiro, you see the undying passion for the art and his own craft that has spawned millions of street style fanatics.  


Fed Up (2014)

America is obese and it’s a problem.  Too many friends and family have died before their time or had their lives dramatically altered for the worse because of diseases that stem from obesity.  The maddening part of realizing this is that you also start to uncover that many American based food companies and government regulations actually snowball this issue.  Watching this film helped shed light on the many reasons why America’s waistline is continuously widening even though many are taking heed of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative, and every popular food product has a “low fat” substitute. 


Muscle Shoals (2013)

Folks will often say, “What’s in the water down there?” The little known town of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, is one of those places where this question gets tossed about.  Some of the best soul musicians of all-time have produced their best sound in this little town by the water including: Arthur Alexander, Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, the Rolling Stones and others.  Between the creator of FAME Studios, Rick Hall and his one-time houseband/rival producers, the Swampers, this small town has contributed to some of the biggest acts and tracks ever.  


Hoop Dreams (1994)

Over 171 minutes of film we follow William Gates and Authur Agee, two basketball starlets from inner-city Chicago, as they experience the ups and downs of being heralded as future family breadwinners, prized possessions of school institutions and the future success story of their community.  Even if you don't identify with sports, this film is a great way to begin to fathom some reasons why flaws in American youth sports are tied to gaps in the socioeconomic landscape.