12 Best 2024 Documentaries So Far

Updated April 15, 2024 • Staff
Nothing gets at the heart of humanity quite like a documentary. Narrative films are wonderful and artistic to be sure, but if you're after something real, then you tune in to real life. So whether that means putting on a solid true crime story, a profile of a fascinating artist, an educational tour of a momentous event, or a behind-the-scenes look at an incredible feat, we're here to let you know your best options this year. Below are the best 2024 documentaries so far. We'll have our eyes peeled for new entries as we go through the year, so make sure you keep tabs on this page.
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12.

Bitconned (2024)

True crime stories set in the world of crypto are still relatively unexplored and therefore have a real contemporary edge to them; they feel more relatable because these criminals share the same online spaces we do. Bitconned taps into this with a more casual, carefree energy, but it also brings up the same concerns—namely: how helpful is it, really, to give this much attention to a con artist currently running free? The film spends most of its time explaining how its main characters built their scam then failed spectacularly at covering their tracks, but after a while even the entertainment of others' mistakes needs to be supported by more thorough analysis, which this documentary doesn't provide.

Our staff rating: 6.4/10
Genre: Crime, Documentary
Actor: Damian Williams, Ray Trapani, Robert Farkas, Sam Bankman-Fried, Sohrab Sharma
Director: Bryan Storkel
Rating: R
11.

Becoming King (2024)

As emotional and personal as it is, Becoming King is just too dewy-eyed and close to the source to have any bearing on those who are not all that interested in learning about the immersion process a Hollywood actor goes through. Jessica Oyelowo admittedly has an interesting story on her hands: that of her husband David Oyelowo (whose name literally means “respect the king”) fulfilling his seven-year dream of playing Martin Luther King, Jr. His journey is a combination of grit, talent, and what appears to be fate and destiny, and it is nothing short of inspiring, especially for aspiring actors. But there is an inherent bias in depicting this story as magical and heroic, without the thorny nuances other more distant filmmakers might’ve included. For one, it barely tackles class and race, and when it does, the discussions are short, superficial, and only in service to the real conflict of the documentary, which is whether or not Oyelowo achieves his acting dreams. It feels shortsighted in the way some passion projects can be, bolstered by limited funds and even fewer eyes to critique it. It’s well-meaning and personal, and it can serve as a helpful resource to those who want to know how to get into the industry. But for the general viewer, the documentary offers little more than standard information on the actor and his breakthrough film.

Our staff rating: 6.5/10
Genre: Documentary
Actor: Ava DuVernay, David Oyelowo, Jessica Oyelowo, Martin Luther King Jr.
Director: Jessica Oyelowo
10.

Lover, Stalker, Killer (2024)

The story of how Dave Kroupa excitedly joined online dating sites only to meet a murderous stalker is both distressing and fascinating. You feel for the guy and wonder how a person could commit such heinous crimes. That in itself is a feat: to be genuinely shocked despite the prevalence of true crime documentaries. But Lover, Stalker, Killer takes way too long to get to the point. For a good chunk of the documentary, you’re left wondering how the pieces will fall into place, all while the interviewees are hyping it up to be something truly horrific as if it were a movie or a game, and not an actually traumatic moment that forever altered the course of Kroupa and his family’s life. It’s good that we get a first-hand account of the case from Kroupa himself because otherwise, this would be another case of desensitized, sensationalized fare. The central story is interesting to be sure, but a lack of technical flare and in-depth questioning makes it, overall, flimsy and overlong.

Our staff rating: 6.8/10
Genre: Crime, Documentary
Actor: Cari Farver, Chris Maher, Dave Kroupa, Ryan Avis
Director: Sam Hobkinson
Rating: R
9.

Sacred Soil: The Piney Woods School Story (2024)

You can see what director J.J. Anderson is trying to do with Sacred Soil: chronicle the lives of current Piney Woods students and connect them with their school’s storied past. It’s an admirable task that speaks to how, despite all the innovations we’ve made since the school’s founding in 1909, we still have a ways to go to achieve true racial equality. And it’s a story worth telling, set in a school brimming with bright minds unafraid to engage in important discourse. However, these ideas are muddled in Anderson’s unfocused storytelling. There is no narrator, so we’re left listening to clips of conversations and meetings that go on for too long (it often feels like sitting in a forum we’re not invited to). There are inserts of archival photos and beautiful shots of the school, but there’s little context provided to them, so those of us outside of the Piney Woods ecosystem are left feeling confused. Is the documentary about Black teenhood or is it about the history of the school? I imagine there’s a smoother way to interweave the two, but Sacred Soil ultimately fails to bridge the gap between the then and now.

Our staff rating: 6.8/10
Genre: Documentary
Director: J.J. Anderson
Rating: PG

Free Watching Options:

Watch Sacred Soil: The Piney Woods School Story (2024) on Hulu for free
8.

Kids Are Growing Up: A Story About a Kid Named Laroi (2024)

What does a highly successful 20-year-old musician have to say about life and the industry? As we learn from Laroi, a lot apparently. Throughout this film, which documents his rapid rise from hopeful Aussie to international star, Laroi shares observations that are at turns earnest, endearing, and self-aware. Unfortunately, these likable traits aren’t enough to make Kids Are Growing Up staple viewing beyond Laroi’s fanbase. If you’re not part of the club, you might find it hard to grasp the necessity of this production at all. Though pleasantly intimate and amusingly animated, there is nothing innovative nor insightful about it. The Australian leg of his origin story seems to have been largely skipped, as are some parts of his musical process. And though it's the most interesting part about him, the documentary doesn't focus too much on him being a prodigy. Laroi is talented to be sure, but this documentary seems like a premature attempt at capturing him in his presumed prime. As a result, the filmmakers betray a lack of confidence in Laroi's future, even though it's clear it'll burn brighter than ever.

Our staff rating: 6.8/10
Genre: Documentary, Music
Actor: Justin Bieber, Katarina Demetriades, Lil Bibby, Post Malone, The Kid LAROI
Director: Michael D. Ratner
Rating: R

Free Watching Options:

Watch Kids Are Growing Up: A Story About a Kid Named Laroi (2024) on Amazon Prime for free
7.

The Greatest Love Story Never Told (2024)

Jennifer Lopez believes that her latest album and its movie accompaniment, This Is Me…Now, are her magnum opus, so she gives the joint project her all. She funds, writes, produces, directs, and choreographs everything with the help of her team, which amusingly includes her lover and muse Ben Affleck. Whether or not it actually is her greatest work of all time doesn’t matter; it doesn’t even matter that people get it. What matters is that she creates it with the undivided fervor of an artist possessed with the knowledge that this is their last chance to make a mark. And it’s that energy that makes this documentary, which is a behind-the-scenes look at This Is Me…Now, so captivating. Lopez is in her element directing the movie-musical of her life. At 54 years old, she’s completely candid (sometimes, amusingly, to Affleck’s dismay) and abandons all need to conform to industry norms. She follows her heart first and her mind second, which explains why her project is as big-hearted and relatable as it is bonkers and all over the place. It’s a bit like The Disaster Artist in that way: watching Lopez’s creative chaos is far more interesting than the creation itself.

Our staff rating: 7/10
Genre: Documentary
Actor: Ben Affleck, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Jane Fonda, Jennifer Lopez
Director: Jason B. Bergh
Rating: R

Free Watching Options:

Watch The Greatest Love Story Never Told (2024) on Amazon Prime for free
6.

The Antisocial Network: Memes to Mayhem (2024)

The documentary offers a simplified, reflective look at the origins of meme culture and hive mind, and how online anonymity has led to toxic beliefs and behaviors in real life. It features a nostalgic collection of 2000s memes and references that awaken the sleeping cringe, as well as valuable insights from people who have contributed to or lived through the destructive milestones that ironic memes created. At best, it is an informative work that doesn't waste time or become so overwhelmingit even comes with short, entrancing animations that serve as a respite from the depressing subject. At worst, it's preaching to the choir.

Our staff rating: 7/10
Genre: Documentary
Director: Arthur Jones, Giorgio Angelini
Rating: R
5.

Giannis: The Marvelous Journey (2024)

Giannis Antetokounmpo's rags-to-riches life story is the stuff of movies, and indeed it’s been told many times on print and screen. But this is the first time he and his family are telling it themselves, which is a big deal since Antetokounmpo, as it turns out, is inseparable from his family. Their revealing interviews about how they struggled as undocumented immigrants from Nigeria in Greece add a new, moving depth to a well-known journey, which Director Kristen Lappas wisely divides into chapters named after Greek ideals Antetokounmpo represents. Despite Lappas’ background (she is Greek-American), she makes sure to balance Antetokounmpo's heroic moments with the Greek government’s at-times unfair treatment of the athlete and other immigrants in the country. She also puts a spotlight on the pressures Antetokounmpo is going through as one of the youngest champs in NBA history. After all, at just 29 years old, he’s already a two-time MVP and playoff winner. This doc proves that the story of how he got there is no less remarkable.

Our staff rating: 7.3/10
Genre: Documentary
Actor: Alex Antetokounmpo, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kenny Smith, Kostas Antetokounmpo, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Veronica Antetokounmpo
Director: Kristen Lappas

Free Watching Options:

Watch Giannis: The Marvelous Journey (2024) on Amazon Prime for free
4.

You Are Not Alone: Fighting the Wolf Pack (2024)

After the La Manada rape case in 2016, it was necessary to document this event, especially since the widespread national outrage and demonstrations managed to move the country to change the way Spain defines consent. You Are Not Alone: Fighting the Wolf Pack documents this arduous journey. While it’s done through the familiar Netflix true crime approach, there’s some respect given to the victim that hasn’t been given previously by the media. The film sticks to the actual verbatim words used by the victim, albeit edited for clarity, but they ensured that their words were not accompanied with photos or similar looking actors, keeping the truth of their words without risking their safety. While the documentary’s direction isn’t new, the outrage is still felt, as well as the genuine hope of a country that came together to ensure justice.

Our staff rating: 7.3/10
Genre: Documentary
Actor: Carolina Yuste, Natalia de Molina
Director: Almudena Carracedo, Robert Bahar
Rating: R
3.

Frida (2024)

Frida Kahlo is an iconic Mexican painter, not just because of her outstanding art, but also because of her outlook in life, despite her ill health and tragic accident. Because of this, she has been talked about in multiple books, movies, and exhibitions, but a new documentary has popped up, this time from her own words. Carla Gutierrez’s directorial debut is a revelation, voiced primarily in Frida’s native Spanish and paired with key archival footage, vivid animations of her paintings, and an excellent acoustic score plucked from classical guitar. Being a biographical documentary, fans of the artist would, of course, be familiar with her life events, but Gutierrez’s approach is still worth watching, mostly because it’s Frida’s own words driving the film.

Our staff rating: 7.5/10
Genre: Documentary
Actor: Frida Kahlo
Director: Carla Gutierrez
Rating: R

Free Watching Options:

Watch Frida (2024) on Amazon Prime for free

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