When Netflix won its first Oscar in 2017, it unsurprisingly went to a documentary. Granted, it was in the Documentary Short Subject category, but even before Netflix was turning out feature films at a near-weekly pace, its original documentaries were already earning Academy Award nominations and critical acclaim. With that in intellect, here are the best Netflix original documentaries to get you started. Catch up on them now, before you get overwhelmed by those 80 other original movies Netflix plans to release in 2018. –Chris Osterndorf
The best Netflix original documentaries
2013 was a breakout year for Tig Notaro–and one of her hardest. During a performance at New York City’s Largo, the lesbian comic came out with her breast cancer diagnosis in a set that became instantly iconic, in part because Notaro only received the news a day before the show–and it closely followed another health scare and the death of her mom. The acclaimed Netflix documentary Tig analyzes the comedian’s life during her therapy and in recovery–as she and her partner attempt to have their first child. Kristina Goolsby and Ashley York’s film is both as candid and disarmingly intimate as you would expect a film about Notaro to be. The documentary is a testament to human resilience–about finding the gallantry to go on after enormous hardship. –Nico Lang
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson investigates the tragic 1992 death of a legendary homosexual rights activist, officially ruled suicide but which many suspect to be a slaying. Director David France uses the cinema to explore the larger scope of Johnson’s life and impact on both the landscape of LGBTQ rights and those closest to her. — David Wharton
Director Lucy Cohen’s heart-wrenching Kingdom of Us is a touching and intimate position into the lives of a grieving wife and her seven children, all attempted to understand why patriarch Paul Shanks killed himself in Warwickshire, England’s Crackley Woods. Through old household videos, interviews, recited writes, and even songs, Cohen offer her documentary with precipitous depths to coping with mental illness and extraordinary loss. She goes inside the photographic negative of the supposedly happy family living out an idyllic countryside life and finds what went wrong. — Kahron Spearman
The best kind of journalism takes you on a journey you didn’t expect. Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press starts with a wrestler’s sexuality videotape, then pivots into both a festivity of the fourth estate and a stark warning about the ability of a free and independent press to survive the machinations of the billionaire class. It’s shocking, it’s surreal, and it’s easily the most important thing to come out of Hulk Hogan’s career. — D.W.
5) Amanda Knox
If you knew nothing about Amanda Knox going into this documentary, in which she herself seems, you might be surprised by how cut and dry her occurrence seems( spoiler alert: it’s pretty clear she didn’t do it .) Yet the cinema is also a reminder of the sensationalism that jumped up around her, and how easy it is to spin a narrative to satiate the public’s appetite for blood. As with any good true crime narrative, there are elements of Knox’s case which are strange. She didn’t always act like a “typical” girl, she didn’t behave as she “should’ve” in certain situations. But under similar circumstances, who’s to say how any of us would react? Perhaps there are details of that night in 2007, when Knox’s roommate Meredith Kercher was murdered, that we’ll never fully understand. Certainly, a lot of people involved jumped to the incorrect conclusions initially. But the film argues that the media’s portrait of “Foxy Knoxy” was as much a part of the case’s mishandle as anything else. –C.O.