Best-Reviewed Documentaries 2020

The eclectic mix of non-fiction stories that were released in theaters, on demand, and via streaming in 2020 proved once again that real-life can be stranger – and often more impressive to critics – than fiction. 76 Days, which chronicles the harrowing first days of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China, was the best-reviewed doc of the year, followed by the likes of All In: The Fight for Democracy, Crip Camp, and Time, all of which show the power of those who work to bring about change. Politics and the pandemic were rich themes – see MLK/FBI and Totally Under Control – while critics also lauded more personal work, with enormous praise for number 3 on our list, Dick Johnson Is Dead, director Kirsten Johnson’s hilarious love letter to her father, whose struggles with Alzheimer’s she chronicles in a truly unique way.

The order of the rank below reflects the Adjusted Score as of February 28, 2021. Scores might change over time.

#1

76 Days (2020)
100%

#1
Adjusted Score: 104825%
Critics Consensus: A raw, fly-on-the-wall recounting of hospital life in Wuhan in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, 76 Days is an engrossing and potent documentary - and a surprisingly comforting portrait of humanity.
Synopsis: Health care workers and patients combat the COVID-19 outbreak during a lockdown in Wuhan, China.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Hao Wu, Weixi Chen

#2

Crip Camp (2020)
100%

#2
Adjusted Score: 106584%
Critics Consensus: As entertaining as it is inspiring, Crip Camp uses one group's remarkable story to highlight hope for the future and the power of community.
Synopsis: A groundbreaking summer camp galvanizes teens who have disabilities.... [More]

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 106204%
Critics Consensus: Dick Johnson Is Dead celebrates a life with bittersweet humor and grace, offering a deeply resonant perspective on mortality in the bargain.
Synopsis: A filmmaker and her elderly father stage his death in various ways to help them face his inevitable demise.... [More]
Directed By: Kirsten Johnson

#4

Collective (2019)
99%

#4
Adjusted Score: 108087%
Critics Consensus: Collective presents a darkly effective overview of the cycle of political corruption and public cynicism that takes hold when government abrogates its responsibility to the people.
Synopsis: Directed by Alexander Nanau (TOTO AND HIS SISTERS), COLLECTIVE follows a heroic team of journalists as they uncover shocking, widespread... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Alexander Nanau

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 105736%
Critics Consensus: Totally Under Control does a commendable job of distilling current events into a clear-eyed overview that's as engaging as it is enraging.
Synopsis: Public health officials discuss the U.S. government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.... [More]

#6

MLK/FBI (2020)
98%

#6
Adjusted Score: 104290%
Critics Consensus: MLK/FBI presents a sobering overview of the American intelligence community's efforts to discredit and destroy a leader of the civil rights movement.
Synopsis: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered today as an American hero: a bridge-builder, a shrewd political tactician, and a... [More]
Directed By: Sam Pollard

#7

Time (2020)
98%

#7
Adjusted Score: 105481%
Critics Consensus: Time delivers a powerful broadside against the flaws of the American justice system -- and chronicles one family's refusal to give up against all odds.
Synopsis: Entrepreneur Fox Rich spends the last two decades campaigning for the release of her husband, Rob G. Rich, who is... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Garrett Bradley

#8
Adjusted Score: 104006%
Critics Consensus: All In: The Fight for Democracy lives up to its title as a galvanizing rallying cry for voters to exercise -- and preserve -- their right to be heard.
Synopsis: Filmmakers Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortes examine the history of voter suppression and the activists who fight for the rights... [More]
Starring: Stacey Abrams
Directed By: Lisa Cortes, Liz Garbus

#9
Adjusted Score: 103929%
Critics Consensus: An absorbing and affectionate tribute to a unique individual, Mucho Mucho Amor should prove fascinating for Walter Mercado fans as well as first-timers.
Synopsis: Puerto Rican astrologer and psychic Walter Mercado discusses his life, career and post-fame seclusion.... [More]
Starring: Walter Mercado

#10

City Hall (2020)
98%

#10
Adjusted Score: 101854%
Critics Consensus: A glimpse of local government at work that's as patiently observant as it is engrossing, City Hall adds another insightful gem to master documentarian Frederick Wiseman's filmography.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Frederick Wiseman examines the rich history of Boston City Hall.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Frederick Wiseman

Tag Cloud

TV Land 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Reality Competition FOX Comics on TV TBS green book news YouTube Premium Tarantino what to watch Stephen King stop motion natural history finale Music Netflix BBC America Columbia Pictures canceled TV shows TruTV Emmys Superheroes telelvision independent Logo Adult Swim streamig BAFTA cartoon BET pirates of the caribbean 2020 posters cats Fargo harry potter LGBT CW Seed trophy Nominations quibi TCA Awards Dark Horse Comics Awards Tour Reality series spinoff Spike Rocketman critics TCA 2017 a nightmare on elm street composers ratings godzilla Trailer slasher Spectrum Originals Fox News razzies Apple TV+ spanish language 79th Golden Globes Awards Paramount crossover Photos Marathons The CW kong Sneak Peek hidden camera Disney streaming service Comic-Con@Home 2021 Apple TV Plus Best Actor Hallmark Christmas movies Interview aapi dceu Ellie Kemper PBS ViacomCBS Anna Paquin Trivia Prime Video PaleyFest cars Quiz Biopics Funimation diversity video on demand Trophy Talk revenge nature remakes discovery HFPA Red Carpet dc satire Turner Classic Movies facebook Cosplay YouTube dark Sundance First Reviews rotten movies we love New York Comic Con ITV wonder woman thriller Grammys classics justice league ABC AMC Plus Amazon Rom-Com archives transformers Thanksgiving Pirates Crackle Extras stoner Vudu fresh Horror 45 scary Character Guide Masterpiece directors Opinion Elton John 007 Crunchyroll romantic comedy mutant ID award winner The Academy Hallmark Calendar Amazon Prime Video based on movie Mary Poppins Returns 20th Century Fox Watching Series christmas movies TCA Winter 2020 hispanic X-Men australia Musicals rt archives Rock black game of thrones nfl Nickelodeon History comic book movie Epix Broadway Emmy Nominations interviews HBO zombie space free movies 21st Century Fox Nat Geo USA Network YouTube Red crime drama 1990s Super Bowl prank Hulu Shudder NYCC The Walking Dead crime thriller target Fox Searchlight cancelled TV series laika 71st Emmy Awards south america Walt Disney Pictures VH1 slashers feel good golden globes leaderboard foreign period drama El Rey richard e. Grant AMC mockumentary blockbusters 2016 italian versus video GLAAD Tokyo Olympics HBO Max worst movies PlayStation Lucasfilm MGM Syfy Hear Us Out olympics Netflix Christmas movies Lionsgate 2017 ESPN ABC Family National Geographic superhero aliens Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt reboot Discovery Channel Best Picture RT History VOD HBO Go Oscar Disney james bond The Purge werewolf dexter criterion Exclusive Video psychological thriller Kids & Family franchise comics Paramount Pictures Comedy APB Oscars comic books Ghostbusters GoT Sci-Fi genre toy story cooking sopranos Animation Fantasy Pride Month Box Office Disney Channel E3 dreamworks technology See It Skip It Cannes comiccon Country Star Wars Tomatazos cults singing competition indiana jones women 72 Emmy Awards king kong batman festival book FX on Hulu Video Games indie robots joker 2018 FX sports OWN TV One zero dark thirty cops emmy awards Ovation TNT basketball Warner Bros. 2019 rotten popular Infographic Mudbound broadcast Shondaland DC streaming service Women's History Month Valentine's Day Television Academy Black Mirror CMT LGBTQ true crime sag awards name the review Spring TV deadpool new star wars movies Martial Arts BBC die hard movies streaming Marvel Winter TV TV movies Universal USA TCA trailers television renewed TV shows TV renewals GIFs teaser sequels historical drama Musical live action hispanic heritage month screenings Tumblr all-time Lifetime Christmas movies heist movie dramedy The Witch Heroines japanese summer TV zombies Disney+ Disney Plus Western worst films A24 Amazon Prime disaster MTV Classic Film Superheroe Captain marvel best hist NBA Bravo Writers Guild of America universal monsters high school Turner fast and furious Marvel Television Drama boxing Tags: Comedy suspense Neflix Winners YA Pop japan adaptation Starz Peacock Sony Pictures Countdown kids sequel cancelled art house Best Actress international parents blaxploitation strong female leads Marvel Studios TIFF CNN Chilling Adventures of Sabrina MSNBC unscripted Travel Channel FXX cinemax 93rd Oscars Podcast Black History Month IFC Films children's TV monster movies halloween Election live event science fiction new york DirecTV book adaptation 4/20 know your critic canceled Academy Awards serial killer Best and Worst Sundance TV gangster venice Showtime Food Network obituary spanish VICE jurassic park Teen blockbuster latino action-comedy theme song boxoffice Year in Review OneApp crime lord of the rings elevated horror Baby Yoda SXSW 2022 The Arrangement 24 frames Chernobyl Premiere Dates nbcuniversal travel Holiday summer preview Esquire Pacific Islander American Society of Cinematographers anime Toys spy thriller new zealand politics DC Universe DGA First Look Film Festival chucky SXSW SDCC ABC Signature 99% docudrama Film asian-american South by Southwest Film Festival cancelled television adventure summer TV preview Polls and Games Paramount Network spain DC Comics medical drama Arrowverse Family royal family Focus Features Rocky Best Director 90s Paramount Plus comedies adenture Summer Avengers President scene in color police drama IMDb TV NBC biography 73rd Emmy Awards Acorn TV doctor who dogs Action Wes Anderson Cartoon Network Comic Book social media Image Comics Comedy Central Pop TV Fall TV biopic spider-man Pet Sematary obi wan Mary poppins screen actors guild superman A&E Freeform war SundanceTV tv talk Star Trek saw Amazon Studios Brie Larson comic scorecard Schedule 94th Oscars twilight Pixar vs. WarnerMedia game show french young adult king arthur kaiju scary movies Awards Mystery Binge Guide TCM political drama psycho San Diego Comic-Con IFC breaking bad RT21 Creative Arts Emmys documentaries rt labs critics edition Instagram Live TLC Britbox documentary Hollywood Foreign Press Association reviews legend MCU Set visit romance 2015 supernatural BET Awards Christmas dragons miniseries 2021 football Mindy Kaling halloween tv WGN sitcom anthology mob docuseries witnail rom-coms TV The Walt Disney Company Endgame hollywood stand-up comedy movie Song of Ice and Fire Television Critics Association Apple Tubi CBS All Access spider-verse critic resources jamie lee curtis streaming movies Mary Tyler Moore golden globe awards festivals Lifetime BBC One Sundance Now child's play marvel cinematic universe animated Disney Plus cancelled TV shows debate black comedy ghosts binge Alien Universal Pictures mcc E! rt labs casting comic book movies Legendary mission: impossible toronto CBS marvel comics Certified Fresh vampires talk show Holidays concert