Capturing the Friedmans (2003)
If there’s one thread that runs through many contemporary documentaries, it’s that of questioning what is true — and what isn’t. In Capturing the Friedmans, the story of a ­middle-class father charged with child molestation, filmmaker Andrew Jarecki “just kind of peels the onion and shows the unspoken contradictions and the difficulties” of finding out whether the man accused of the crime was really guilty, says Renov.

The Corporation (2003)
Don’t care much about macroeconomics? Well, just remember, change (of mind) is good. In their “riveting, creative analysis of this fundamental modern institution,” filmmakers Jennifer Abbott and Mark Achbar manage to make the topic “seem sexy,” says Kahana.

Grizzly Man (2005)
Though the story of Timothy Treadwell — who lived in close proximity to the bears of Alaska’s national parks for years, before one of his angrier bear neighbors devoured him — takes place in the U.S., the film, by director Werner Herzog, has an ever-so-­European sensibility. Herzog, who directs both documentaries and feature films, makes docs that “are often as much about Herzog as they are about the subject he makes them about,” says Harris.