Current TV's 50 Documentaries to See Before You Die

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Created by MM.

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Over the past two decades the documentary film has graduated into mainstream cinema, becoming a major box office draw and an important part of contemporary culture. To celebrate this new age of the cinematic documentary, Current TV has commissioned a brand-new series that explores the most powerful, memorable and moving documentary feature films to have hit our cinema screens in recent years.

The shows will count down from fifty to one, eventually revealing what our panel of preeminent film critics, academics and industry insiders has chosen as the most entertaining, powerful and influential modern documentary. However, this is not your average list show. Renowned documentarian Morgan Spurlock will embark on a road trip to track down the filmmakers and characters behind some of the most remarkable moments in contemporary cinema. Along the way, he'll meet maverick directors and eccentric contributors, travel to iconic locations and explore the impact that the documentaries have made on both their subjects and society, all the while counting down to number one.

The five, one-hour shows will take the viewer from the plains of Antarctica in March of the Penguins to the basketball courts of Chicago in Hoop Dreams; from early examples of the blockbuster doc like Roger and Me and The Thin Blue Line to more recent hits such as Catfish and Inside Job. The series will form part of a two-month season in which Current will air full-length presentations of many of the featured docs.

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  1. 12 -

    Bowling for Columbine

    2002, in 9 top lists Check
  2. 10 -

    Grizzly Man

    2005, in 9 top lists Check
  3. 4 -

    Vals Im Bashir

    2008 — a.k.a. Waltz with Bashir, in 11 top lists Check
  4. 30 -

    Fahrenheit 9/11

    2004, in 8 top lists Check
  5. 15 -

    Crumb

    1994, in 11 top lists Check
  6. 1 -

    Hoop Dreams

    1994, in 14 top lists Check
  7. 29 -

    Man on Wire

    2008, in 4 top lists Check
  8. 5 -

    Super Size Me

    2004, in 1 top list Check
  9. 8 -

    An Inconvenient Truth

    2006, in 2 top lists Check
  10. 38 -

    La marche de l'empereur

    2005 — a.k.a. March of the Penguins, in 3 top lists Check
  11. 21 -

    Exit Through the Gift Shop

    2010, in 1 top list Check
  12. 46 -

    Little Dieter Needs to Fly

    1997, in 2 top lists Check
  13. 13 -

    The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of...

    2003, in 4 top lists Check
  14. 2 -

    The Thin Blue Line

    1988, in 12 top lists Check
  15. 37 -

    Inside Job

    2010, in 3 top lists Check
  16. 41 -

    The King of Kong

    2007 — a.k.a. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, in 1 top list Check
  17. 20 -

    Capturing the Friedmans

    2003, in 6 top lists Check
  18. 50 -

    Spellbound

    2002, in 2 top lists Check
  19. 16 -

    Ônibus 174

    2002 — a.k.a. Bus 174, in 5 top lists Check
  20. 24 -

    Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood...

    1996, in 2 top lists Check
  21. 3 -

    Roger & Me

    1989, in 10 top lists Check
  22. 19 -

    Touching the Void

    2003, in 6 top lists Check
  23. 43 -

    When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts

    2006, in 6 top lists Check
  24. 27 -

    Tarnation

    2003, in 3 top lists Check
  25. 6 -

    The War Room

    1993, in 2 top lists Check
  26. 42 -

    Catfish

    2010, in 0 top lists Check
  27. 25 -

    Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

    2005, in 1 top list Check
  28. 18 -

    Food, Inc.

    2008, in 0 top lists Check
  29. 48 -

    The Kid Stays in the Picture

    2002, in 1 top list Check
  30. 40 -

    When We Were Kings

    1996, in 4 top lists Check
  31. 44 -

    Burma VJ: Reporter i et lukket land

    2008 — a.k.a. Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country, in 1 top list Check
  32. 28 -

    GasLand

    2010, in 0 top lists Check
  33. 31 -

    Jesus Camp

    2006, in 0 top lists Check
  34. 45 -

    The Decline of Western Civilization Part II:...

    1988, in 1 top list Check
  35. 7 -

    The Celluloid Closet

    1995, in 1 top list Check
  36. 14 -

    Dark Days

    2000, in 2 top lists Check
  37. 32 -

    Dogtown and Z-Boys

    2001, in 3 top lists Check
  38. 49 -

    Madonna: Truth or Dare

    1991, in 1 top list Check
  39. 36 -

    Taxi to the Dark Side

    2007, in 1 top list Check
  40. 26 -

    Murderball

    2005, in 1 top list Check
  41. 11 -

    Paris Is Burning

    1990, in 5 top lists Check
  42. 39 -

    Biggie and Tupac

    2002, in 0 top lists Check
  43. 47 -

    One Day in September

    1999, in 0 top lists Check
  44. 22 -

    Shut Up & Sing

    2006, in 0 top lists Check
  45. 33 -

    Tongues Untied

    1989, in 6 top lists Check
  46. 34 -

    Brother's Keeper

    1992, in 1 top list Check
  47. 23 -

    The Eyes of Tammy Faye

    2000, in 0 top lists Check
  48. 35 -

    Paragraph 175

    2000, in 0 top lists Check
  49. 17 -

    Street Fight

    2005, in 0 top lists Check
  50. 9 -

    Trouble the Water

    2008, in 1 top list Check
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Last updated on Dec 27, 2011; source