Documentaries, like practically every other fare of genre, have flourished lately. Chalk it up to streaming services new and old pouring billions of dollars into original content to satisfy their subscribers' insatiable lust for new movies and shows, or simply the glut of fascinating stories waiting to be told. Rarely hits at the box office, nonfiction narratives are particularly well-suited to on-demand viewing, however, offering those who spend hours binge-watching lighter fare the rare opportunity to feel like they're learning something as they sit on the couch.
Of course, quantity never equals quality, so we're dedicating our year to watching as many films and series to pluck out the very best that will expand your intellectual and emotional horizons. Below you'll find the best documentaries of 2020 (including docuseries, the form that may have benefited more than any other from the streaming revolution). You'll find streaming hits, obscure treasures, and theatrical releases, but they all share one common trait: They'll help you better understand the world, for better or for worse.
For more documentaries to watch, check out our favorite documentaries of 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016, and the best documentaries to stream on Netflix right now. Plus, read about the best movies of 2020 so far.