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20 Inspirational Netflix Documentaries Ranked Worst To Best

by Giovanna Boldrini
Giovanna was born in Rome, Italy and currently resides in South Salem, New York. In her free time, she likes to cook with her children and grandchildren.

With the sheer number of films available to stream right now across various platforms, it can be hard to make a choice. If you’re in the mood for something nonfiction and full of inspiration, then you came to the right place.

Here are 20 of the most inspirational documentaries currently available on Netflix, ranked from worst to best. From films about pop culture icons, to documentaries about pioneering Black artists, there is something for everyone.

Spoiler: the list is ranked, but you can choose any title from 30 to 1 and you will come out the other side feeling better about the world and the people in it, so happy viewing!

20. "I Know A Woman Like That"

20. "I Know A Woman Like That"

Suck it ageists! These badass women between the ages of 64 and 94 prove that they can do it all.

Stream it here.

19. "Iris"

19. "Iris"

Iris Apfel is an absolute legend, and this documentary showcases a lot more than her impeccable sense of style.

Stream it here.

18. "I Am Bolt"

18. "I Am Bolt"

This documentary tells the story of how a kid from Jamaica became the fastest man in the world.

Stream it here.

17. "Winning"

17. "Winning"

Five athletes with only one thing in common: the drive to win.

Stream it here.

16. "Sembene!"

16. "Sembene!"

Ousmane Sembene is an African freedom fighter who is regarded as the father of African cinema, but unless you’ve seen this film, you’ve probably never heard of him.

Stream it here.

15. "Jiro Dreams Of Sushi"

15. "Jiro Dreams Of Sushi"

This award-winning film tells the story of the world’s best sushi chef, Jiro Ono, who left his restaurant at the height of its popularity so that he could open a more intimate space inside of a Tokyo subway station and focus on his craft.

Stream it here.

14. "Maya Angelou: Still I Rise"

14. "Maya Angelou: Still I Rise"

Maya Angelou is one of the most inspiring human beings to ever walk this Earth, and this feature documentary will teach all you need to know about her life and her lasting impact through poetry, writing, and activism.

Stream it here.

13. "The Freedom To Marry"

13. "The Freedom To Marry"

We all know how the fight for marriage equality turned out, but reliving the struggle through this documentary is still an emotional and inspiring journey.

Stream it here.

12. "The Farthest: Voyager In Space"

12. "The Farthest: Voyager In Space"

Even if you know the story of the 1977 Voyager mission, you will walk away from this film feeling the power of humanity.

Stream it here.

11. "Chef's Table"

11. "Chef's Table"

Almost every chef profiled in this series had to overcome some obstacle and make sacrifices in life before they could reach their full potential creatively.

Stream it here.

10. "Janis: Little Girl Blue"

10. "Janis: Little Girl Blue"

Janis Joplin’s life was not without sadness and pain, but the story of her rise to stardom is one that everyone should see.

Stream it here.

9. "George Harrison: Living In The Material World"

9. "George Harrison: Living In The Material World"

George was the “quiet Beatle” who died too soon, but his short life was maybe the most interesting of all the bandmates. A film about the man who wrote “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” directed by Martin Scorsese? No brainer.

Stream it here.

8. "Abstract"

8. "Abstract"

This 8-part documentary series showcases the work of eight creatives, from architects to footwear designers, and gives viewers a glimpse into their minds. You don’t have to be an aspiring designer to learn from and be inspired by their stories.

Stream it here.

7. "Daughters of Destiny"

7. "Daughters of Destiny"

This documentary follows the lives of poor girls in rural India as they attend a boarding school designed to help them overcome their circumstances.

Stream it here.

6. "GLOW: The Story of The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling"

6. "GLOW: The Story of The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling"

You’ve probably already seen the hit Netflix series starring Alison Brie and Marc Maron, so now’s the perfect time to get to know the real people who inspired the story.

Stream it here.

5. "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey"

5. "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey"

The song title says it all. The story of a guy who went from YouTube singer to member of the legendary rock group, Journey.

Stream it here.

4. "Miss Sharon Jones"

4. "Miss Sharon Jones"

The powerful soul and funk singer Sharon Jones passed away in 2016, but not before leaving a lasting impression on all who heard her music. It took decades for her to career to take off, but she never stopped trying.

Stream it here.

3. "A Ballerina's Tale"

3. "A Ballerina's Tale"

Stories like African American ballerina Misty Copeland’s are rarely told, and director Nelson George did a great job of telling it.

Stream it here.

2. "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey"

2. "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey"

One of the most recognizable voices in pop culture history belongs to a large Black man from Baltimore who fell in love with puppeteering.

Stream it here.

1. "The White Helmets"

1. "The White Helmets"

This Netflix original short highlights the work of volunteer rescue workers who risked their own lives to save others in Aleppo, Syria, and Turkey during the Syrian Civil War in 2016.

Stream it here.