This critic has said time and again, that movies “based on actual events” are not the way to learn about history. That is because it is clear with said movies, there are any number of overly embellished stories. That being the case, this critic prefers to learn about history through the bevy of more trustworthy documentaries turned out annually by PBS and other relatively reliable resources.
The noted outlets have released yet again this year, quite the impressive crop of new documentaries. From stories of the evolution of the American circus, the role of jazz in the Cold War and the role of Native Americans and their ancestors to today’s world to profiles of American legends, such as Teddy Roosevelt, Bob Hope and Fred Rogers and more, this year’s crop of new documentaries has given audiences plenty of stories that are just as good as — if not better than — any of those stories “based on actual events” churned out by Hollywood.
Topping this year’s list of new notable documentaries is the simply-titled Native America. This four-part doc is the presentation that Native Americans have deserved and needed for ages. It clearly outlines how their advancements have played a critical part in America’s own development while also outlining in depth, the atrocities committed against Native Americans. The pairing of the positive from their contributions and the negative of the damning story of how they were so horribly mistreated makes for a powerful program that everyone should see at least once.
Coming in second in this year’s list of the year’s best new documentaries is NOVA: The Impossible Flight. The story at the center of this doc follows the round-the-world flight of a famed solar plane, and is just as gripping as any Hollywood drama that could ever be churned out — again — if not more gripping. Audiences will be on the edge of their seats to see if the plane completes its journey.
Third Place belongs to American Experience: Into The Amazon. The story at the center of this doc is another Hollywood-ready story that thankfully Hollywood has not yet ruined. It follows Teddy Roosevelt as he journeys into one of the world’s most dangerous realms, the Amazon jungle. It is revealed that the journey comes after his defeat for the presidency in his final run for the White House. It is a gripping dual “man vs. nature”/”man vs himself” story that history buffs and action movie fans alike will appreciate.
Along with the titles noted here, this year’s list also features other new docs, such as a look back at Hannibal’s legendary trek over the Alps, a profile of the Jews who joined America’s military and played a critical part in the Allies’ victory in WWII and a touching profile of a blind magician who refuses to let his disability stop him along with the previously noted docs.
As always, the top 10 titles are the best of the year, while the five that follow are honorable mention titles. Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New Documentaries.
PHIL’S PICKS 2018 TOP 10 NEW DOCUMENTARIES
- Native America
- NOVA: The Impossible Flight
- American Experience: Into The Amazon
- American Experience: The Circus
- Line 41
- American Masters: This is Bob Hope
- G.I. Jews
- Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
- Mr. Rogers: It’s You I Like
- Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal in the Alps
- The Jazz Ambassadors
- NOVA: Decoding The Weather Machine
- American Experience: The Secret of Tuxedo Park
- The Paris Opera
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