Entertainment

The Weirdest Documentaries Discovered on Reddit

best reddit documentaries
Nat Geo Wild

Reddit is a trove of movie recommendations. The sprawling message board contains gold mines for neophytes and cinéastes alike. Take the Documentaries subreddit, for example, a place where projects new and old, long and short, big and obscure get posted, analyzed, and critiqued daily.

Of course, the problem is, as with many pockets of Reddit, the page sees dozens upon dozens of posts a day. Below, we're highlighting some of the strangest (but also best!) recs for you to watch next.

The Man With the 7 Second Memory

What Reddit says: "Saddest documentary ever."
What we say: Not just sad, but perplexing. Jane Treays' film centers on Clive Wearing, the English musician and musicologist who, in March 1985, was struck by a brain infection that left him with the most devastating case of amnesia ever recorded -- a memory that, as the title implies, spans mere seconds before it's erased. "Same as death," Wearing says, regarding his condition. "No difference between day and night. No thoughts at all."
Where to watch: YouTube

Finders Keepers

What Reddit says: "Wow I was expecting a murder investigation doc... But was pleasantly surprised."
What we say: Despite its sinister name, Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel's doc really is a strange delight. The logline: "When Shannon Whisnant finds an amputated leg in a used grill, he tries to capitalize on the mass-media frenzy. But then the limb's owner shows up." Between the obvious jokes and WTF moments lies an almost poignant tale of two men grappling with their identities (and a foot).
Where to watch: Netflix

The Man Who Swims With Crocodiles

What Reddit says: "That is so fucking cool."
What we say: It's an unlikely love story full of wonder. For Nat Geo, wildlife cinematographer Roger Horrocks visits Costa Rica to meet Chito, a fisherman who befriended a croc after nursing it back to health. What follows, as Horrocks says, might "challenge everything you think you know about crocodiles and the natural world itself." Though we still wouldn't recommend getting one as a pet.
Where to watch: YouTube

Any Poll's a Goal

What Reddit says: "I have no idea what the fuck I just watched."
What we say: What do Justin Bieber, Pitbull, and Taylor Swift have in common? Music, yes, but also marketing teams with bad poll ideas. Here, the Internet Historian provides a brief overview of 4chan's pop star-trolling proclivities by highlighting four pranks that definitely taught everyone an important lesson. We hope.
Where to watch: YouTube

Wisconsin Death Trip

What Reddit says: "Excellent."
What we say: It is, in fact, excellent. Adapted from Michael Lesy's cult classic book of the same name, this docudrama winds the clock back to the 1890s and takes viewers to Black River Falls, Wisconsin, a place that, during the turn of the century, saw crime and death rates skyrocket. Director James Marsh (Man on Wire) meshes archival photographs and newspaper reports with silent black-and-white re-enactments to paint his own haunting -- and occasionally humorous -- portrait of a town gone mad.
Where to watch: Buy on Amazon

How to Start Your Own Country

What Reddit says: "From a mockumentary perspective, that was a masterpiece. From a realistic approach, that was very dumb."
What we say: This BAFTA-winning mocku-series is a ton of fun. After learning about the Principality of Sealand, humorist Danny Wallace (Yes Man) turns his one-bedroom London flat into a sovereign micronation, invading Britain and writing a national anthem in the process. You'll constantly be laughing and scratching your head as Wallace investigates fascinating legal gray areas. Long live, Lovely.
Where to watch: Vimeo

81-Year-Old Commodore Amiga Artist - Samia Halaby

What Reddit says: "AMIGAAAAAA!!!!!!"
What we say: Bill Winters's bite-size profile of the Palestinian painter Samia Halaby is a hidden gem. This particular vid explores the artist's work on the Commodore Amiga 1000, a PC from the '80s that she's maintained as a digital canvas. "I came to the computer because of what its nature is," Halaby explains. "To me, it was a technology of our time, and if I were a painter of my time, I'd have to use the technology of my time." Her "kinetic paintings" will make you say "whoa" at least once.
Where to watch: YouTube

I Think We're Alone Now

What Reddit says: "Well that was strangely fascinating."
What we say: Sean Donnelly's doc revolves around Jeff and Kelly, individuals whose undying love for the '80s pop singer Tiffany has led many to call them stalkers. Not an easy watch, but an absolutely gripping one that shines a light on the intersection of fame and mental illness.
Where to watch: Stream on Amazon

Gut Hack

What Reddit says: "so basically a poop transplant?"
What we say: This gross-but-compelling short doc follows biohacker and former NASA scientist Josiah Zayner as he performs what's essentially an extreme version of a fecal transplant on himself. (Why? He's long suffered from digestive issues, and he wants to know if replacing all the bacteria in his body with those of a donor will provide relief.) Like we said: gross, but compelling.
Where to watch:YouTube

Helping Students Who Procrastinate

What Reddit says: "saved it for later."
What we say: Right, this is technically a lecture, but it's great. First, you'll get to hear psychology professor Tim Pychyl break down procrastination and how you can attack it. Then you'll get to enjoy discovering certain commenters who -- to the frustration of other commenters -- are making the same joke, in a merciless echo chamber from hell.
Where to watch:YouTube

American Movie

What Reddit says: "This is one of my all-time favorite movies and definitely my favorite documentary."
What we say: Financing, casting, finding cabinets that break the way you want -- making movies is hard work. No one knows this better than aspiring filmmaker Mark Borchardt, the subject of the hilarious American Movie, but no one seems more game, either. As ambition collides with an almost surreal cast of characters, director Chris Smith documents Mark's quest to make his dream horror project, and the result is one of those ever-quotable hits you simply have to see to believe.
Where to watch: Rent on Amazon

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Sean Fitz-Gerald is a staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment. Find him on Twitter: @srkfitzgerald.