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7 Best Documentaries of 2020 (So Far)
It’s only March, and already 2020 is looking like another banner year for the documentary boom. So far, we’ve seen true crime stories like HBO’s McMillions, which exposed the story of the multi-million dollar fraud that for years stole money from the McDonalds Monopoly game, political films like Hulu’s portrait of Hillary Clinton, and cultural docs, like Netflix’s Taylor Swift movie, Miss Americana. Here are some of the best documentary films and series to debut since January.
Taylor Swift is one of the 21st century’s best selling and most talked about artists, a figure who has tightly controlled her public image since she was a teenager. That makes Netflix’s documentary about the star all the more revealing. In the film, Swift opens up about her songwriting process, battling an eating disorder, and her decision to go public with her politics.
McDonalds’ Monopoly game is familiar to anyone who caught sight of TV commercials in the 1990s. But what’s less familiar is the fact that the game was shut down in the wake of the revelation that for years, most of its top prizes had been won fraudulently. Matt Damon is set to star in a movie dramatizing the story, so until that’s released we can learn the tale from the new HBO docuseries.
In Netflix’s Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer, we watched ordinary people take on an investigation with life-or-death stakes when the law wouldn’t. In The Pharmacist, we saw another crusade—that of pharmacist Dan Schneider, who loses his son in a drug-related shooting in New Orleans. When he notices young, healthy people visiting his pharmacy to pick up Oxycontin prescriptions, he notices a major problem—which leads him to a fight against Bog Pharma.
Ali and Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes
HBO Sports has never failed to give us compelling portraits of the late boxing legend—but Ali and Cavett brought an entirely new perspective to Muhammed Ali’s life. Directed by Robert S. Bader, the documentary chronicled the friendship between Ali and television talk show host Dick Cavett, and their televised debates on racial justice.
We’re heading towards a hugely consequential presidential election, so there’s no better time to reckon with the last one. This spring, Hulu premiered a four-part documentary examining the life and career of the former presidential candidate and First Lady, including the national nightmare that was the 2016 election.
Babies may not be able to do much, but it’s really pretty impressive that they can do anything at all. They’re born wrinkly little potatoes who spend the majority of their time sleeping, and then in around 12 months they’re beginning to walk and talk. If you’ve ever wondered how the little guys pull that off, check out this Netflix series, which follows 15 infants while including extensive interviews with researchers who’ve shed light on their development.
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez
The murder conviction and subsequent suicide of the New England Patriots’ star tight end Aaron Hernandez was one of the biggest news stories of the 2010s. Early this year, Netflix released a three-part docuseries examining the football player’s life and crimes, from his childhood in a household marred by abuse, alleged involvement in multiple murders, to his postmortem CTE diagnosis.
Gabrielle Bruney is a writer and editor for Esquire, where she focuses on politics and culture.