Tom RostonIndependent journalist Tom Roston checks in and writes about the world of documentaries in his column, Doc Soup.

You can follow Tom on Twitter @DocSoupMan.

The 10 Most Lugubrious Documentaries of All Time

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Because my previous doc list — the ten sexiest documentaries — garnered a good amount of interest (and a healthy dose of nastiness), I’ll return to the well for another top ten. Of course, I was tempted to call this my 10 Funniest Documentaries of All Time. But that just struck me as slightly inaccurate. In truth, the best documentaries that are funny are also seering portraits of humanity. And since real life isn’t brought to us by Pixar, it’s often replete with complexity and sadness. (And since there is at least some truth the notion that all happy families are alike, documentary filmmakers don’t make films about them.) And for that reason, the best docs are both sad and funny, so here is my 10 Most Lugubrious Documentaries of All Time. Before we get started, I will note that about a month ago, my old Premiere pal Glenn Kenny went on a screed against lists. If you agree with him, please read no more and instead bask in the buzzkill at his blog. If you do get a kick out of lists, let me know your thoughts on docs that make you giggle.

And let me just say one other thing about what you won’t find here — The Aristocrats. In my humble opinion, The Aristocrats is not funny, it’s not interesting, it’s not anything. Other than dull and repetitive.

Here’s what I do find funny:
10. Fast Cheap and Out of Control
9. My Best Fiend
8. American Movie
7. Roger & Me
6. Grey Gardens
5. Crumb
4. Anvil! The Story of Anvil*
3. Supersize Me
2. Fahrenheit 9/11
1. Grizzly Man
* If you haven’t caught this yet on the film festival circuit, look for it this fall in theaters.

Tom Roston
Tom Roston
Tom Roston is a guest columnist for POV's documentary blog. He comes to us as a ten-year veteran of Premiere magazine, where he was a Senior Editor, and where he wrote the column, Notes from the Dream Factory. Tom was born and raised in New York City. He graduated from Brown University and started his career in journalism at The Nation and then Vanity Fair. Tom has also written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, GQ, New York, Elle and other publications. Tom's favorite documentaries are: 1. Koyanisqaatsi - Godfrey Reggio 2. Hoop Dreams - Steve James 3. The Up series - Michael Apted 4. Crumb - Terry Zwigoff 5. Capturing the Friedmans - Andrew Jarecki
  • http://stea Erin D.

    FOREIGNID: 16881
    I must be the only person on earth who finds American Movie inspiring instead of depressing.

  • Fenn

    FOREIGNID: 16882
    Grizzly man’s a great choice, but could I add one more? King of Kong is my one of my favorite documentaries of all time. I watched it with a wide variety of personalities and we were all on the floor roaring with laughter!

  • Fleepe23

    If you like king of kong, chasing ghost is awesome ha same people about the pac-man record