Documentaries, like practically every other fare of genre, have flourished lately. Chalk it up to streaming services new and old pouring billions of dollars into original content to satisfy their subscribers' insatiable lust for new movies and shows, or simply the glut of fascinating stories waiting to be told. Rarely hits at the box office, nonfiction narratives are particularly well-suited to on-demand viewing, however, offering those who spend hours binge-watching lighter fare the rare opportunity to feel like they're learning something as they sit on the couch.
Of course, quantity never equals quality, so we're dedicating our year to watching as many films and series to pluck out the very best that will expand your intellectual and emotional horizons. Below you'll find the best documentaries of 2020 (including docuseries, the form that may have benefited more than any other from the streaming revolution). You'll find streaming hits, obscure treasures, and theatrical releases, but they all share one common trait: They'll help you better understand the world, for better or for worse.
5. The Truffle Hunters
Release date: TBD
Director: Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw (The Last Race)
Why it's a great doc: One of the loveliest films of the year, The Truffle Hunters is a documentary about the truffle trade in Northern Italy. Its stars? A bunch of older Italian men and their beloved dogs, who they treat like children. Directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw offer gorgeously shot windows into the serious business of scouring the forests for these delicacies. It's not entirely sweet pups and their devoted owners, though. Without any extra context, Dweck and Kershaw introduce us to the traders who make the industry a vicious one with a lot of money on the line. Still, the indisputable star is Birba, a sweet pooch of unidentifiable breed whose elderly person feeds from his own dinner table and worries about leaving behind once he passes.
Where to watch it: TBD