CBR: 10 Most Interesting Documentaries of 2022 (So Far)
This article features Meltdown: Three Mile Island and was originally published here.
Although there are decades of documentaries to choose from, 2022 has added many great films to the catalog. Some 2022 documentaries cover current cultural phenomenons like Tinder and SpaceX, while others bring a fresh perspective to a fascinating event from the past. No matter what viewers are looking for, 2022 has produced plenty of great documentaries so far.
10/10The Tinder Swindler Is A True Crime Treat
True-crime documentaries give viewers the chance to watch elaborate and dark crimes play out, all from the safety of their couch. While these stories are exciting, they can also be heartbreaking. The Tinder Swindler is no different.
The Tinder Swindler tells the story of Shimon Hyut, a conman who pretended to be the rich heir of an Israeli diamond tycoon to seduce women on Tinder. Once they became involved with him, he started to ask them for money–up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. He often used his dangerous (and fake) profession as a dealer in the diamond business as a reason for needing huge amounts of cash on short notice. The victims were left in debt and heartbroken, but their stories create a compelling and fascinating true-crime story.
9/10 Meltdown: Three Mile Island Covers A Nuclear Disaster
For those seeking a meticulous breakdown of a fascinating historical event, Meltdown: Three Mile Island is the documentary to watch. This four-part Netflix series tells the story of the partial meltdown of a nuclear plant in the Pennsylvania countryside–a catastrophe that could have potentially endangered the entire Eastern Coast of the United States.
Meltdown: Three Mile Island goes a step further than other documentaries on the same subject, examining the experiences of a cleaning crew sent to the site three years later to rehabilitate the plant. Working under rushed and dangerous conditions, the crew raised concerns that another nuclear disaster was on the horizon–only to be silenced by higher-ups. This thorough documentary examines corporate greed, brave whistle-blowers, and the cultural anxieties surrounding nuclear energy in late 1970s America.
8/10 Return To Space is A Riveting Scientific Story
Despite Elon Musk’s polarizing presence in pop culture, his scientific achievements make for an exciting and timely documentary. Return to Space chronicles the efforts of SpaceX scientists as they attempt to send astronauts into space from U.S. soil for the first time in almost a decade.
The documentary, directed by Oscar winners Elizabeth Chai Vaserhelyi and Jimmy Chin, goes beyond the scientific and into the personal. Profiling the astronauts and engineers who worked on the mission, Return to Space tells the story of space travel through the humans who make it possible.
7/10 Aftershock Is A Chilling Examination Of American Healthcare
Touching on racism, women’s rights and the injustices of the American health care system, Aftershock illuminates the disproportionate rate of preventable deaths of Black women due to complications from childbirth. A dark yet important piece of work, this film follows the families of two women who’ve passed away due to systematic neglect, and how they’re pursuing justice for these tragedies.
Aftershock takes a grander view of the subject at hand, discussing the history of racism in American healthcare and how it continues today. Although the documentary focuses on a remarkably sad subject, it features an overall message of hope. Much of the film follows the journey of activists as they push for policy changes in the world of maternal health care.
6/10 Fire Of Love Is Beautiful Yet Tragic
Fire of Love is a moving, thrilling, and ultimately tragic story. It tells the tale of Katia and Maurice Krafft, two French scientists who spent their lives exploring and photographing volcanoes. Their love for each other is rivaled only by their mutual love for volcanoes, so much so that they passed away together while documenting a volcanic eruption in 1991.
Both a testament to love and a stunning nature documentary, Fire of Love is a rare and unique look into what happens when passion ends in tragedy. The film enjoyed an award-winning run at the 2022 Sundance film festival, and should be available to stream on Disney+ in the near future.
5/10 Downfall: The Case Against Boeing Is A Shocking Look At Corporate Culture
Two plane crashes, five months apart, with 346 total causalities. That’s the mystery at the center of Downfall: The Case Against Boeing. Despite Boeing’s strong reputation as the manufacturer of safe aircraft, it turns out that their 737 Max model plane was the cause of these two tragic crashes, with a design flaw dooming these flights to fail.
Downfall: The Case Against Boeing carefully and diligently documents Boeing’s corporate culture of secrets and greed, as cost-cutting measures and market-driven decision-making led to hundreds of deaths. This horrifying yet fascinating documentary is one of 2022’s most riveting so far.
4/10 Our Father is Disturbing Story About A Fertility Doctor
With the popularity of DNA testing growing in recent years, more and more people are finding relatives they didn’t know they had. The same is true for Jacoba Ballard, who grew up believing she was an only child. A DNA test reveals that she has quite a few unknown half siblings–each fathered by fertility doctor Donald Cline.
This chilling documentary tells the story of how Dr. Cline impregnated women with his own sperm without their knowledge. As Dr. Cline’s children attempt to uncover more information, they’re confronted with a disappointing lack of laws governing fertility doctors and the realization that Dr. Cline isn’t the only doctor to commit this same atrocity. If viewers are looking for something truly shocking, Our Father might be the right pick.
3/10 The Janes Tells The Story of Passionate Female Activists
A timely documentary that centers women’s voices, The Janes tells the story of a Chicago collective that provided safe and affordable abortions for nearly 11,000 women between 1968 and 1973. At a time when abortion procedures were illegal in many Midwestern states, the organization provided a chance for women to receive these services in secret.
The documentary features both old and new interviews with the female activists who were members of the collective, and stories from those who used the service to get illegal but safe abortions. The Janes is a powerful piece for those seeking stories about women who defied the odds.
2/10 Conversations With A Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes Is Gruesome
John Wayne Gacy gained notoriety for being both a serial killer and a professional clown before his legal execution in 1994. With at least 33 murders to his name, Gacy’s story has been told repeatedly through both documentaries and scripted media. 2022 brings three-part Netflix series Conversations With A Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes, which features never-before-heard audio along with archival videos and interviews.
While true crime buffs may know Gacy’s story well, the unheard tapes and detailed approach make Conversations With a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes worth watching. For those who’ve never heard of Gacy or have yet to hear the whole story, this documentary is a chance to settle in for some chilling tales of murder.
1/10The Territory Is A Fearful Yet Important Film
Indigenous people throughout the ages have been driven out of their land by industrial and colonial forces, and modern times are no exception. The Territory is a moving story about the Uru-eu-wau-wau people of the Brazilian Amazon, whose homeland is threatened by illegal settlers and non-native farmers bringing deforestation.
Despite the documentary’s dark tone, it features gorgeous footage of the Amazon, as well as on-the-ground cinematography captured by the Uru-eu-wau-wau people themselves. The film also uses crisp sound mixing to emphasize its subject matter; the sounds of chainsaws and trees crashing remind the viewer that the home of the Uru-eu-wau-wau is actively being destroyed. Three years in the making, The Territory is a can’t-miss tale of both fear and hope.