The list of the 5 best environmental documentaries includes some of the most thought-provoking movies ever made. In the latter part of the twentieth century the world began to come to grips with the havoc it has wreaked on Mother Nature, but sometimes it has taken the power of film to get us to face this fact. These movies use graphic images and stark facts to help paint a stark picture, but one that hopefully gets people to alter their behaviors.

  1. "An Inconvenient Truth" Probably the mother of all environmental documentaries, this Al Gore-produced film made a big splash when it was released in 2006, becoming one of the biggest-grossing documentaries ever. Though it is largely nothing more than Gore presenting a PowerPoint presentation, the movie won the Academy Award for best doc and thrust Gore into the spotlight again after leaving public office. The film primarily focuses on global warming with a startling poster of a hurricane cloud coming out of a smokestack.

  2. "Frontline: Poisoned Waters" This film, one of the best environmental documentaries, takes a look at the health of America’s waterways. Made by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Hedrick Smith, the film primarily focuses on the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound, two bodies of water once teaming with shellfish but now suffer from greater and greater levels of pollution. The primary thesis of the film is that pollution threats today do not come from heavy industry, but from consumers and household pollutants such as face creams, medicine and soap.

  3. "The Cove" Everyone loves dolphins, so it stands to reason that everyone will be aghast at this movie, one of the best environmental documentaries and also one of the most shocking. It discusses the Japanese practice of slaughtering dolphins every year in Quasi-National Park. The killing is generally done in secret and the film crew had to be very evasive and its efforts to get footage.

  4. "Crude" In the mid-2000s, a multi-billion dollar lawsuit was brought against Chevron Corporation after the drilling of the Lago Agrio oil field and the resulting massive ecological damage. This film, one of the best environmental documentaries, investigates the “Amazon Chernobyl” and looks at how people and entities responded on both sides, including the influence of politics and big-moneyed corporations.

  5. "The 11th Hour" This film, one of the best environmental documentaries, was released on the heels of “An Inconvenient Truth” and had its own star power, produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio. Over 50 high-profile people contribute to the movie, including politicians, scientists and environmentalists. The overall theme of the film is to call all citizens to action to make differences before our environmental state truly becomes irreversible.