Tiger King S01 (TV)

– batshit crazy biopic cum true-crime documentary about the deadly rivalries between private zoo owners in the USA. Definitely unique and worth watching for the extraordinarily eccentric characters and the eye opening lives they lead. The chronology is chaotic though and the whole series too drawn out. It also feels a little manipulative, as these shows so often do, withholding key information or revealing it in drips to frame audience opinion and maximise shock factor.

Earthlings (2005)

– Joaquin Phoenix narrates this sadistic abattoir of a documentary, which throws nauseatingly graphic, savage butchery at you while his Eeyore tones describe it. Too repulsive to actually watch most of the time, I didn’t finish it, and I still feel traumatised. Though no less shocking, in most instances the footage used lacks a source or date, which undermines its integrity somewhat.

Free Solo

– documentary about climber Alex Honnold scaling El Capitan in Yosemite without ropes is nail-biting, edge of the seat, stress-saturated brilliance. The vistas, the personalities, his philosophy and, of course, the feat itself are all profoundly affecting, and together make for an introspective and inspiring piece of cinema.

The Great Hack

– documentary raising the alarm on data manipulation and election rigging is certainly timely (if anything, belated – Twitter just banned political advertising). It deserves viewing, particularly by big data skeptics and critics of Carole Cadwalladr, but in its efforts to be mainstream and accessible, it barely scratches the surface of these major issues, with a narrow focus on a small cast of characters.

Icarus

– the best documentary I’ve ever seen and a fascinating expose of Russian doping. Whether it’s a subject that interests you or not, the political ramifications and behind the scenes machinations by Putin’s government are a stunning reminder that conspiracies do exist.

We Are Legion

– quite an enjoyable documentary about the hacktavist organisation Anonymous, from their beginnings as internet trolls on 4chan and other message boards to the headline grabbing hacking collective

13th

– fascinating and troubling Netflix documentary about the state of race relations in America and how it’s exacerbated by the justice and penal system.

Killswitch

– interesting documentary, not exactly original in the lines it covers, but very worthwhile. Good to hear such experts speak on the subject of privacy, surveillance and copyright.

Into The Abyss

– disappointingly generic death row documentary, with often seemingly irrelevant and invasive questioning from Herzog. There are vastly superior documentaries. Not ideal Christmas day viewing!

The Act of Killing

– Exceedingly impactful, unique and compelling documentary about the genocide in Indonesia, in which killers reenact their war crimes. Horrifying and unsettling, but somehow very human (perhaps for this precise reason).

The Frozen Ground

– Moderately wearisome attempt at a thriller. Cage and Cusack carry it. The script is too revealing to be satisfying, devoid of the intrigue and suspense that’s vital for an effective thriller and without a twist or a solid finishing blow it’s simply too forgettable. The most emotive scenes of the whole film are the factual closing titles.