10 Best True Crime Documentaries

Monday, March 14 by Shawn Lealos

The 10 best true crime documentaries attack a number of areas of criminal concern. Some of these movies argue for the innocence of wrongly accused men, others detail the horrible crimes people committed and others show crimes that are not actually deemed illegal but are horrific all the same.

  1. “The Thin Blue Line” – This will always be seen as one of the best true crime documentaries because it is a movie that helped free a man found guilty of murder. The movie looks into the case surrounding the conviction of Randall Dale Adams and convinced the Appeals court to overturn his conviction.
  2. “Cocaine Cowboys” – This 2006 true crime documentary details the rise of cocaine in Miami, Florida and the resulting crimes that occurred in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The filmmakers talk to police, court personnel, former drug smugglers and local gang members to paint the portrait of the Miami war on drugs.
  3. “Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills” – Unlike “The Thin Blue Line,” this true crime documentary never helped free the accused despite an overwhelming community who believes they are innocent. The accused are the West Memphis 3, accused of murdering a small child and convicted despite no real evidence.
  4. “Capturing the Friedmans” – In one of the scariest true crime documentaries, Andrew Jarercki was going to make a feature about a children’s birthday entertainer until he learned one clown’s brother and father were found guilty of child molestation. The documentary speaks to the former victims.
  5. “Strange Culture”Tilda Swinton stars in this, one of the best true crime documentaries. The movie follows the case of Steve Kurtz, who was arrested and detained on charges of bioterrorism after his wife died. Kurtz was suspected because of various items he used for artwork. The story was told in reenactments because Kurtz was not legally allowed to talk about it.
  6. “American Gangster” – This is not the Denzel Washington movie but instead one of the best true crime documentaries. Released in 1992, the documentary traces the rise and fall of America’s gangsters including Al Capone, Pretty Boy Floyd and John Dillinger. Dennis Farina is the narrator.
  7. “Dear Zachary: A Letter to as Son About His Father” – This 2008 movie is one of the best true crime documentaries because it is a love letter to the unborn son of a murdered friend. When Kurt Kuenne’s best friend was killed by his girlfriend, Kuenne starts to make a movie to show his friend’s baby who his father was. The girlfriend, allowed freedom by Canadian Judge Gale Welsh, killed the baby and committed suicide.
  8. “Burma VJ” – This 2008 true crime documentary follows the brutal regime of terror in Burma. A group of citizens band together with video cameras and smuggle the footage out of the country to let the rest of the world know what was happening there.
  9. “The Trials of Darryl Hunt” – One of the best true crime documentaries, this also helped free an innocent man. Darryl Hunt was convicted of rape and murder but, 19 years later, DNA evidence proved he was innocent.
  10. “Taxi to the Dark Side” – In one of the most disturbing true crime documentaries, this follows the beating death of a Afghan taxi driver by American soldiers. The movie examines the United States method of torture in interrogation.
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