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Vibbs' Top 5 Documentaries of All-Time

Twisted History is the best history podcast around because Large, Anne, John and I do our research (especially Anne). Not to mention we are hilarious. Absolutely. Fucking. Hilarious. Information for the podcast comes from any reliable source we can find, but nothing beats a good documentary - an audio book with pictures.

 I've seen as many of the Oscar nominated feature film documentaries as I can (NBD),among others, and these are my top 5 documentaries (not counting Ken Burns docs because he'll get a top 5 of his own.)

5. The King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters

If you're a sports fan and don't include the Steve Weibe vs. Billy Mitchell rivalry with Brady vs. Manning, Chestnut vs. Kobayashi, Tiger vs Phil, then you are NOT a real sports fan. Bar-stool SPORTS. This epic rivalry wouldn't be as incredible without the ultimate villain, Billy Mitchell. You don't root for Steve Weibe because he is a loser with a wife and kid who plays donkey kong in his garage, you root for him because he's the guy that's going to beat that son of a bitch Billy Mitchell. This dramatic roller coaster of a doc takes you on a ride as good as your favorite team playing in a sporting event. (Full movie on YouTube)

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4. High School (1968) 

This pick is a bit pretentious and artsy, but the guy who directed this doc, Frederick Wiseman, is the best. I'd use the phrase GOAT, but for documentaries that term belongs to Ken Burns. Wiseman films like he's making a nature documentary. Spending all his time sitting to the side at a distance as to not disturb the subjects natural behavior. This doc shows how teachers and students at a high school were dealing with classmates being drafted to fight in Vietnam. It's a slow burn, but the teacher giving a speech at the end about student who was killed in action hits extremely hard and shows you how people handled Vietnam in real time. There are a lot more entertaining docs out there than this one, but this one has stuck with me over the years. (Kanopy, You can find bits and pieces on Youtube, )

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3. LA 92 

The LA Riots happened in the 90's where cameras were starting to pop up everywhere (including personal cameras you could use at home, at any hour, to film whatever commotion you saw going on outside), so the amount of footage for this documentary is incredible. The first half sets you up with all the history you need to understand what's going on, and then the last half plays all the news and camera footage captured during the riots and lets you make your own opinions off the raw footage. I don't want to cheapen the events in LA by saying it's like an action movie, because action movies are make-believe and enjoyable, but this is the most intense, eye opening documentary I've ever seen. (Hulu)

2. Harlan County, USA

Some of America's poorest live in Harlan County Kentucky where the majority of the population works for the coal mines. Not only are their jobs tied up in the mines, but the mining company also owns their houses and dictate their entire existence. Standing up to BIG COAL  in mid 70's is putting everything on the line, including their lives. This town gets involved in shoot outs and hand to hand combat for protesting a living wage and safer working conditions. It's hilarious to watch this doc and know people think Barstool should unionize. Unions are great for jobs where you can get your arm ripped off by machinery, or have the walls around you collapse only to escape and die of black log. Watching this doc and thinking Barstool employees are on the same level as coal miners is hilarious, but rumor has it the producers at Barstool are forced to throw coal into a furnace to keep the blog running on weekends. You heard it here first. Appalachia Kentucky is a wild place, and this doc is an insightful look into what's been the backbone of America.  (HBO Max)

1. Hoop Dreams

Not only is this the greatest documentary, but this masterpiece is flat out the best basketball movie ever made. Better than Hoosiers. The drama and the story are enthralling because it's all a true story. The doc follows two kids from Chicago for 4 years as the two navigate life and basketball. It's insane how stupid movie critics are because is in 1993, this documentary was not only snubbed for an Oscar, but NOT EVEN NOMINATED. The only way you can give this movie a bad review is if you are a soulless, emotionless, loser who hates kids and sports. If you love basketball this will become your favorite basketball movie. Must watch. (Tubi, HBO Max, Amazon Prime)

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