The Documentary Blog’s Top Documentaries of 2010

Exit Through the Gift Shop

It seems like only a year ago we were counting down our top 10 documentaries of 2009 here at The Documentary Blog. Boy, how time flies. Now, almost four years later, we present to you our top 10 films of 2010. While some argued this was a weak year for films, I found it pretty tough to narrow down my lists — both fiction and non-fiction — to 10 choices (you’ll find a good number of honourable mentions spread throughout this post). This year we’ve got four lists; my own (Jay’s), Charlotte’s, Sean’s and Josh’s. Thanks to some scattered festival runs and extended release dates, it can be tough figuring out what technically counts as a 2010 release. We’ve decided to set our own personal list guidelines so don’t be surprised if our choices look fairly different. Be sure to join in the discussion in the comments section and share your own personal top tens and let us know if you agree or disagree with our take on 2010. You’ll find our lists after the jump. Happy new year!!


Happy People: A Year of the Taiga

My top ten list consists of films I’d either seen at festivals throughout 2010 or had received a theatrical release sometime throughout the year. You’ll notice films like Best Worst Movie and Winnebago Man — both of which appear on other lists in this post — were already included on my list last year. Not too complicated, right? Here it goes:

1. Happy People: A Year in the Taiga
2. Tabloid
3. Into Eternity
4. Last Train Home
5. Sweetgrass
6. Exit Through the Gift Shop
7. Cropsey
8. Boxing Gym
9. Caves of Forgotten Dreams
10. Life With Murder

Honourable Mentions: Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo, Armadillo, Gasland, The Oath, Cool It, Catfish, Waste Land, 12th & Delaware, Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow, Arsy-Versy, The Invention of Dr NakaMats, The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia


2010 has been an incredible year for documentaries and I feel as though I’ve seen some of the documentaries I’ll consider my favourites for many years to come. My list comprises of the films I adored this year that premiered within 2010 (I think) which discounts films like The Red Chapel, Kings of Pastry and Last Train Home which made my list last year. I always struggle with lists as I find it so hard to put films up against one another so please just see this as my favourite ten documentaries of the year not in order of particular preference.

1. The Oath
2. 12th & Delaware
3. Into Eternity
4. Tabloid
5. Nostalgia for the Light
6. Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff
7. A Man Came and Took Her
8. The “Socalled” Movie
9. The Regretters
10. Happy People: Year in the Taiga

Honourable Mentions: 11/4/08A Small Act, Hubble 3D, If God Is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise, ArmadilloThe Invention of Dr NakaMats , RestrepoSex Magic, Manifesting Maya, Steam of Life, Life with MurderTypeface, GasLandTalhotblondSeparado!, War Don DonEnemies of the People, Arsy-Versy



1. Catfish
2. Exit Through the Gift Shop
3. Tabloid
4. GasLand
5. Cropsey
6. Best Worst Movie
7. The Invention of Dr NakaMats
8. Into Eternity
9. Restrepo
10. 12th & Delaware



Release dates for independent make end-of-year lists tricky, so rules always play a big part in how I form my lists. For this one, I’m discounting festivals altogether and sticking to films that either played theatrically, on television, or went straight to DVD in 2010. That is especially good this year because I had a film of my own that premiered at the end of 2009 and played the festival circuit in 2010, but since we aren’t getting our theatrical release until 2011, I can hold off a while longer on the awkward and unethical recommendation of my own film. I should also mention that I have not seen all of the year’s supposed best documentaries. Among the notable omissions are Armadillo, Client 9, Genius Within, Inside Job, The Kids Grow Up, La Danse, Precious Life, Presumed Guilty, The Thorn in the Heart, and Waste Land. Disclaimers out of the way, here are my top ten documentaries of 2010:

1. Alamar
2. Marwencol
3. Exit Through the Gift Shop
4. A Film Unfinished
5. Best Worst Movie
6. Last Train Home
7. The Oath
8. 45365
9. Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo
10. 12th & Delaware

Honorable Mentions: American Radical, Czech Peace, The Elephant In the Living Room, Gasland, Google Baby, Restrepo, Smile ‘Til It Hurts, The Tillman Story, The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia, and Winnebago Man.