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Staff & contributors

, 2010

If you're not a fan of F1 racing, you might not know who Ayrton Senna is. If you are, there is no way you don't know. However, this 2010 British-French documentary packs so much thrill and emotion, you don't have to be a racing enthusiast to be engrossed by it.

So, who is Ayrton Senna? At a time when F1 cars were +1000HP fire-breathing monsters and the grid was stacked with world champions, the Brazilian racing driver rose above the rest to take 3 world championships and win the fabled Monaco Grand Prix a record 6 times. At the age of 34, a devastating car crash took his life.

Director Asif Kapadia develops a compelling, emotional, and exhilarating portrait of F1 racing and the man that was Ayrton Senna. He is still considered by many to be one the best and most exciting racing drivers to have ever stepped into an F1 car. The documentary too, is a thrilling pursuit: moving, psychological intriguing and absolutely nerve-wracking!

Genre: Documentary, History

Actor: Adriane Galisteu, Alain Prost, Arnaldo Jabor, Ayrton Senna, Bernie Ecclestone, Frank Williams, Gerhard Berger, Jackie Stewart, Milton da Silva, Neide Senna, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Ron Dennis, Rubens Barrichello, Sid Watkins, Viviane Senna, Xuxa, Xuxa Meneghel

Director: Asif Kapadia

Rating: PG-13

Asif Kapadia, the genius of biopics who gave us Senna, is back with this documentary on an even bigger sports personality: Argentinian soccer player Diego Armando Maradona. Considered as possibly the best soccer player of all time, Maradona's footage on the pitch is pure wizardry, and you'll feel that way whether you are a soccer fan or not. But that's not the focus of this documentary. What happens outside the pitch is more interesting: from Maradona's modest beginnings to the passionate hatred (and love) that entire countries develop of him. And it doesn't make his story less interesting that during his time in Naples he was affiliated with the mafia.

This is an excellent documentary that distills 500 hours of footage into 2, giving you all you need to know about a character who captured the imagination of a big part of the world for decades. 

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Alberto Bigon, Ciro Ferrara, Claudia Villafane, Corrado Ferlaino, Dalma Maradona, Diego Armando Maradona, Diego Maradona, Gonzalo Bonadeo, Maria Rosa Maradona, Pele

Director: Asif Kapadia

Rating: TV-14, TV-MA

, 2015

In Amy, Kapadia eschews talking heads for something more intimate: home videos, photographs, and phone messages from Winehouse’s earliest and closest friends, which he stitches together to reintroduce a version of the singer that has, up till this point, been ignored by the public. It’s an attempt to reverse Winehouse’s vilified public persona, not by denying her struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, but by showing as many parts of her as possible. The musical prodigy, jazz fanatic, and sweet friend, as well as the troubled soul, hurt child, and obsessive lover. She’s far from perfect, but she is human, not some punching bag caricature the media has made her out to be. Though Kapadia’s methods sometimes get a little too close for comfort (using phone messages intended for her friends and private clips of her being high feels borderline voyeuristic), they also feel necessary in reclaiming an identity that’s closer to her true self. During these questionable moments, Amy feels not just hard but wrong to watch, but that discomfort is also the point. It should be unsettling to get to know a real person.

Genre: Documentary, Music

Actor: Amy Winehouse, Blake Fielder, Frankie Boyle, Jay Leno, Juliette Ashby, Mark Ronson, Mitch Winehouse, Pete Doherty, Russell Brand, Salaam Remi, Tom Myers, Tony Bennett, Tyler James, Yasiin Bey

Director: Asif Kapadia

Rating: R