14 Best Documentaries on Apple TV+ (May 2024)

In the vast landscape of cinematic storytelling, while fictional narratives whisk us away to fantastical realms and captivating tales, documentaries anchor us with the weight of truth, raw and unfiltered. They bridge reality’s intricacies and our understanding, stripping away the layers of fiction to reveal the essence of humanity and our shared experiences. Apple TV+, in its quest to carve a niche in the streaming world, has astutely recognized the value of documentaries. The platform’s offering ranges from evocative tales of personal journeys to grand narratives that unfold epic chronicles of our times. Delve into this curated list as we spotlight the finest documentaries on Apple TV+, each a testament to the power of authentic storytelling in today’s digital age.

14. Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me (2022)

Directed by Alek Keshishian, this documentary follows famous singer/actress Selena Gomez across six years of her life, wherein she was struggling with lupus and bipolar disorder. With archival footage from her tours, trips, childhood videos, and those with friends and family, as well as staged moments, ‘Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me’ showcases the woman’s need for what to be more than just a fame-propelled star. By revealing her mental health issues to the world, she wants to prove that there’s more to her than her fame and that she doesn’t crave it. You can watch the film here.

13. Big Beasts (2023-)

This 10-part docuseries takes us on an in-depth exploration of the lives of the giants of the animal kingdom. From Africa to Brazil to the Poles, ‘Big Beasts’ shows that big sizes come with big challenges and how the animals, including gorillas, hippos, brown bears, and ostriches, deal with them. Captivating and visually stunning, the series has been narrated by Tom Hiddleston. You can watch it here.

12. Earth at Night in Color (2020-2021)

Narrated by Tom Hiddleston, ‘Earth at Night in Color’ explores the nocturnal animals and their behavior across Earth’s six continents (Antarctica excluded). These animals include lions, pumas, elephants, kangaroos, seals, and coral reefs. The series has two seasons, each of 6 episodes, directed by Simon Muriel, Tom Payne, Joe Stevens, and Justin Anderson. You can watch the series here.

11. Beastie Boys Story (2020)

Directed by Spike Jonze, ‘Beastie Boys Story’ is an intimate and nostalgic documentary chronicling the legendary hip-hop group’s journey from punk-inspired beginnings to global stardom. The film, narrated live on stage by surviving members Michael Diamond (Mike D) and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock), offers a heartfelt reflection on their friendship, creative evolution, and the indelible mark they left on music and pop culture. Through archival footage, personal anecdotes, and dynamic storytelling, ‘Beastie Boys Story’ pays tribute to the influential trio and provides an engaging and insightful exploration of the dynamics that fueled their iconic career. You can watch it here.

10. Fathom (2021)

‘Fathom’ is a 2021 American documentary film crafted under the visionary direction of Drew Xanthopoulos. The narrative dives deep into the research of Dr. Michelle Fournet and Dr. Ellen Garland on humpback whales in distant locations such as Alaska and French Polynesia. Their quest is to decode the intricate communication patterns of these magnificent creatures. Premiered at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival, the film is a compelling visual and auditory exploration. ‘Fathom’ not only brings science to the screen but does so with an emotional resonance that bridges the gap between humans and nature. You may watch the film here.

9. Earthsounds (2024)

As per Robin Williams’s Mr. Keating in ‘Dead Poets Society’ (1989), language was invented to woo women. But such language is only for humans. ‘Earthsounds’ opens us up to the untold ways in which animals communicate with each other, the sounds that are their languages. Do they use it to woo females? Among other things, it is a scientific fact that they do.

Narrated by Tom Hiddleston, this 12-part documentary uses cutting-edge audio technology to provide us with the crystal-clear sounds that can be heard in places across the planet, from the Australian forests to the Pacific Ocean to the African jungles to the Atlantic coasts and more. This series is bound to mesmerize you by bringing you face to face with the sounds of Mother Nature, which we mostly have no idea of or have never heard before. You can stream ‘Earthsounds’ here.

8. The Pigeon Tunnel (2023)

This documentary is based on the life of British-secret-service-agent-turned-spy-novelist John le Carré. Carré has authored many espionage novels, 20 of which have become international bestsellers. Many have been adapted for television and film, like ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,’ ‘The Night Manager,’ ‘The Tailor of Panama,’ ‘The Constant Gardener,’ and ‘Our Kind of Traitor.’ Written and directed by Academy-award-winning director Errol Morris, ‘The Pigeon Tunnel,’ via an interview with the writer, re-enactments of events, and archival footage, takes us on an in-depth exploration of the mind of John le Carré. We find out his thoughts and views on espionage and how his experiences during his time in MI5 and MI6 shaped his novels. ‘The Pigeon Tunnel’ can be streamed here.

7. 9/11: Inside the President’s War Room (2021)

‘9/11: Inside the President’s War Room’ is a gripping 2021 documentary film offering a unique lens into the September 11 attacks. Directed by Adam Wishart and narrated by Jeff Daniels, it chronicles the harrowing hours after the attacks, delving into the reactions and decisions of President George W. Bush and his core team. Featuring exclusive interviews with key figures like Vice President Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and others, the documentary provides an unparalleled insight into the corridors of power during one of America’s darkest hours. It is a testament to history, shedding light on leadership during a crisis. You can stream the film here.

6. The Year Earth Changed (2021)

‘The Year Earth Changed,’ directed by Tom Beard, is a nature documentary film presenting a unique lens on the COVID-19 pandemic. Nature unveiled its resilience as humanity grappled with the virus and subsequent lockdowns. Produced in collaboration with the BBC Natural History Unit and narrated by the esteemed David Attenborough, the film captures the symbiotic relationship between humans and the environment during an unprecedented time. From the serene silences in bustling cities to wildlife reclaiming their territories, this documentary is a testament to Earth’s unwavering spirit. Securing its spot on this list, ‘The Year Earth Changed’ reflects nature’s rebirth amidst global adversity. You can stream it here.

5. SIDNEY (2022)

‘SIDNEY,’ a 2022 documentary film directed by Reginald Hudlin, is a heartfelt homage to the legendary actor Sidney Poitier. Produced by Oprah Winfrey and featuring candid reflections from celebrities like Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Robert Redford, and Spike Lee, this film beautifully captures Poitier’s unparalleled influence as a cinematic powerhouse and a vanguard of the Civil Rights Movement. Every frame is a tribute to his life, achievements, and enduring legacy. Claiming its space on this list, ‘SIDNEY’ is an absolute must-watch, presenting an intimate exploration of a luminary who forever altered the narrative of Black actors in Hollywood. Feel free to check out the film here.

4. Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues (2023)

‘Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues,’ crafted by Sacha Jenkins, offers an in-depth look into the enigmatic life and legacy of Louis Armstrong, the pioneering force behind jazz. Using an impressive array of materials from the Armstrong estate, including rare recordings and personal scrapbooks, Jenkins constructs a cinematic collage echoing the very essence of Armstrong’s persona. Featuring insights from the likes of Wynton Marsalis, this documentary confronts the moral dilemmas Armstrong faced concerning his public stance on civil rights. A compelling addition to this list, ‘Black & Blues’ invites viewers to appreciate the complex nuances of an icon who revolutionized music while navigating the tumultuous societal terrains of his time. You may watch it here.

3. Stephen Curry: Underrated (2023)

‘Stephen Curry: Underrated,’ directed by Peter Nicks, is a riveting sports documentary film tracing the meteoric rise of basketball sensation Stephen Curry. Chronicles from his unforgettable NCAA Tournament run in 2008 with Davidson College to the Golden State Warriors’ chase for the NBA Championship in 2021-22 are intricately laid out. The film also underlines his commendable achievement of the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. With a premiere at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and release on Apple TV+, this documentary, enriched with the nuances of Curry’s journey, is a slam dunk for all sports enthusiasts. A deserving entry, it offers an unparalleled deep dive into the legacy of one of basketball’s modern-day greats. You can watch ‘Stephen Curry: Underrated’ here.

2. Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie (2023)

‘Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie’ is a poignant documentary directed by Davis Guggenheim, casting a spotlight on the esteemed actor Michael J. Fox’s life and his tenacious battle with Parkinson’s disease. Premiering at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and subsequently releasing on Apple TV+ in May 2023, this documentary paints a profound portrait of a Hollywood legend known for iconic roles in ‘Back to the Future,’ ‘Teen Wolf,’ and ‘Family Ties.’ The film not only stands as a testament to Fox’s resilience but also celebrates his unparalleled contributions to cinema. Making its rightful spot on this list, ‘Still’ is an evocative journey worth witnessing for its raw portrayal of a beloved actor’s life off-screen. You can stream it here.

1. Prehistoric Planet (2022)

Lauded for its brilliant visual effects and narration by the legendary Sir David Attenborough, ‘Prehistoric Planet’ is a docuseries that explores prehistoric life on Earth in the Late Cretaceous period 66 million years ago. It has released two seasons till now, each having five episodes. With the dinosaurs and other creatures designed to look as real as possible, ‘Prehistoric Planet’ is perhaps the best show on them till now. It is produced by BBC Studios Natural History Unit with Jon Favreau (photoreal ‘The Jungle Book,’ ‘The Lion King’) as the showrunner. You can watch it here.

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