10 Best Movies & TV Shows Based On Documentaries

10 Best Movies & TV Shows Based On Documentaries


  • Documentary movies and docu-series have gained mainstream recognition in current many years, inspiring characteristic movies and TV exhibits to adapt their narratives.
  • HBO has spearheaded the development of adapting documentaries, producing TV films and sequence that draw from true tales captured in non-fiction movies.
  • Diversifications corresponding to
    The Stroll
    Lords of Dogtown
    have replicated the type and themes of their documentary predecessors whereas including their very own cinematic aptitude.

Drawing inspiration from the documentary on the American Samoan soccer workforce’s redemptive journey, Taika Waititi’s upcoming sports activities drama Subsequent Objective Wins joins the listing of films which are tailored from documentaries. For the reason that previous few many years, documentary movies and docu-series are garnering extra mainstream recognition with some audiences being in sheer awe of the cinematic potential their non-fiction narratives seize. From Man on Wire strolling between adrenaline-fueled archival footage and thrilling re-enactments to The Staircase drawing up the blueprint for future true-crime documentaries on platforms like Netflix, such documentaries have established a precedent dramatic sufficient for characteristic movies and TV community originals to borrow from.

For the reason that late Nineties and 2000s, many films and exhibits have served as direct diversifications of pre-existing documentaries. HBO has spearheaded this development notably within the tv area, producing works such because the TV film Cinema Verite that delved into the making of America’s first actuality docu-series An American Household, the comedy-drama sequence Betty which served as a spin-off to the docudrama Skate Kitchen, amongst many others. In some TV exhibits drawing from documentaries, in addition they share widespread artistic groups. As an illustration, the acclaimed Hulu originals The Act and The Lady from Plainville each featured producers of the documentaries that impressed their storyline.

10 The Stroll (2015)

The yr was 1974 when high-wire artist Philippe Petit walked on a tight-rope between the dual towers of New York’s World Commerce Middle. The fascinating act of braveness and sheer absurdity is revisited by way of police experiences, archival footage and re-enactments within the 2008 Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire. Borrowing from the documentary’s heist thriller-like presentation, Robert Zemeckis directed his personal Phillipe Petit biopic The Stroll with Joseph Gordon-Levitt enjoying the French protagonist. Whereas it opened to essential and viewers acclaim, The Stroll may nonetheless not soar as much as its precursor’s excessive requirements even when the climatic tightrope sequence did crown it as the most effective 3D films of the 2010s.

9 Lords Of Dogtown (2005)

A group of teens stand together from Lords of Dogtown

Narrated by actor Sean Penn and directed by ex-skateboarder Stacy Peralta, the 2001 documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys supplied complete insights in Nineteen Seventies-era skater tradition and the way Peralta’s Zephyr skateboarding workforce pioneered the game. Whereas it lacked its originality and rawness, the 2005 biographical drama Lords of Dogtown retained the documentary’s trendy outlook and classic visuals. Starring a much-younger Emile Hirsch alongside Heath Ledger and Michael Angarano, Catherine Hardwicke’s deft route introduced out some convincing performances from the rising stars. Lords of Dogtown additionally boasts many Easter Eggs for skating aficionados with cameos from not solely Stacy Peralta himself however different icons of the game like Tony Hawk and Johnny Knoxville.

8 The Staircase (2022)

Colin Firth and Toni Collette looking upwards in HBO Max's The Staircase

HBO Max’ s The Staircase attracts from the true story of Kathleen Peterson’s loss of life, doubtlessly by the hands of her novelist husband Michael Peterson. The title alludes to Kathleen being discovered lifeless on the backside of a staircase, an occasion that led to doubts and suspicions round her enigmatic companion. Boasting standout performances from Colin Firth and Toni Collette, The Staircase owes its atmospheric stress to the pioneering true-crime documentary of the identical identify. French director Jean-Xavier de Lestrade masterminded the formidable endeavor of recording Michael Peterson, his protection attorneys, and members of the family. Such was the documentary’s affect that three extra sequel episodes have been filmed with new developments in 2012.

7 Gray Gardens (2009)

Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore looking sideways in Grey Gardens

The HBO film Gray Gardens stars Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore as socialite-singer “Massive” Edith Bouvier Bale and her daughter “Little” Edith Bouvier Bale respectively. To flee her mom’s overprotective grip, “Little” Edith resorts to modeling and cabaret dancing earlier than main a lifetime of squalor of their decaying mansion of Gray Gardens. The film then instantly recreates the efforts of filmmakers Albert and David Maysles to seize the human drama underlying the strained relationship of this mother-daughter duo. The unique documentary (additionally titled Gray Gardens) is thought to be an evergreen basic with a Sight & Sound ballot rating it because the tenth-best documentary of all time.

6 The Act (2019)

Patricia Arquette and Joey King holding hands in The Act

Joey King and Patricia Arquette delivered a few of the most interesting performances of their careers in Hulu’s intense psychological thriller The Act. King starred as Gypsy Rose Blanchard, a teen who was manipulated by her abusive mom Dee Dee Blanchard into a lifetime of restraint and sickness. The Act delves into the occasions that led to Gypsy taking the final word step to homicide Arquette’s antagonistic Dee Dee. What The Act leaves from the true story is made up within the authentic documentary that impressed it. 2017’s Mommy Useless and Dearest took a delicate strategy in breaking down the online of lies that Dee Dee wove to gaslight her daughter.

5 Rescue Daybreak (2006)

Christian Bale standing with his hands behind his head looking upwards in shock in Rescue Dawn

Werner Herzog is not any stranger to unconventional documentaries with credit like The Grizzly Man and Into the Inferno to his identify. However within the case of Rescue Daybreak, the German auteur drew upon the 1997 documentary Little Dieter Wants To Fly to craft an epic warfare drama of his personal. Starring Christian Bale as German-born American pilot Dieter Dangler, the film tells his fascinating true story of survival after being shot down at Laos in the course of the Vietnam Struggle. Very like Herzog’s film, the previous documentary additionally took no preachy stances to justify warfare however somewhat centered extra on the bounds of the human spirit in instances of disaster.

RELATED: How A lot Weight Christian Bale Has Gained & Misplaced For Film Roles

4 Betty (2020-2021)

Girls skateboarding in an alleyway in Betty

Crystal Moselle challenged documentary notions along with her 2018 docudrama Skate Kitchen. That includes many beginner skate boarders and permitting them to simply re-enact their on a regular basis lives inside a semi-fictional narrative, Moselle allowed such non-actors to simply be themselves whereas additionally opening up the dialog on feminine illustration within the skateboarding subculture. Borne out of Skate Kitchen’s success was HBO’s immensely well-received but underrated coming-of-age spin-off Betty. With a few of Skate Kitchen’s skateboarding ladies returning, Betty fleshed out these characters extra with some fictional eventualities, handheld-style modifying, vibrant multi-colored wardrobe selections, and by using the skate-hubs of New York Metropolis in probably the most genuine and unscripted method potential.

3 Milk (2008)

Sean Penn smiling in Milk

Sean Penn earned a Greatest Actor Oscar for Gus Van Sant’s earnest biopic of Harvey Milk, the primary brazenly homosexual man to be elected to public workplace in California. Thought to be the most effective fashionable LGBTQ+ films primarily based on true tales, Milk lined his political profession as much as his surprising assassination. It drew upon majorly from the documentary The Occasions of Harvey Milk which in itself was primarily based on Randy Shilt’s biography The Mayor of Castro Road. Documenting Milk’s journey from neighborhood activism to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the 1984 documentary went on to win the Oscar for Greatest Documentary Characteristic within the subsequent yr.

2 The Lady From Plainville (2022)

Michelle walking into court on The Girl From Plainville

The next entry incorporates point out of suicide.

Conrad Roy was simply 18 years outdated when he died by suicide, a deadly choice ensuing from a series of textual content messages from his girlfriend Michelle Carter. The strange-than-fiction story behind this real-life crime and Michelle’s eventual manslaughter conviction shaped the premise of the Hulu miniseries The Lady from Plainville with Elle Fanning starring as Michelle. Drawing reward for Fanning’s disturbingly chilling efficiency, the present additionally delved into Conrad’s personal disturbed family and the manipulative parts of his relationship. These morally gray points of the dysfunctional teenage romance have been deciphered in better element with a balanced portrayal in HBO’S equally insightful 2019 documentary I Love You, Now Die.

RELATED: What The Lady From Plainville Adjustments From The True Story

1 RKO 281 (1999)

Liev Schrieber and John Malkovich clinking their glasses in RKO 281

Orson Welles’ directorial debut Citizen Kane is perhaps the best film ever made however the debate round its true author continues to flare up Hollywood. Whereas Welles conceived the epic drama with Herman J. Mankiewicz, future critics noticed that Mankiewicz deserved the only writing credit. In 1996, the Golden Globe-winning documentary The Battle Over Citizen Kane introduced this debate again to the mainstream with HBO constructing upon its claims three years later. The equally acclaimed TV film RKO 281. Boasting passionate performances by Liev Schrieber as Welles and John Malkovich as Mankiewicz, RKO 281 picked up the Golden Globe for Greatest Movement Image Made for Tv.

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