The best documentaries on Netflix to get your synapses firing

These hot docs are the perfect hot dogs for thought-provoking entertainment

There are times where what you need is a dumb blockbuster. But sometimes we want something more out of our leisure time. So why not pick out a documentary?

In addition to the many documentaries on YouTube and Vimeo, there's also Netflix to consider, and they're no slouch in this arena.

Keep your weekend free because we've a stellar line-up of documentaries to set you thinking about the meaning of life and reality.

[Image source: Netflix]

The Blue Planet

We know more about the moon than we do about the oceans. That’s a bit weird, given how much humans rely on oceans (a lot) as well as how much of the planet is covered by water (two-thirds). You’d expect that we understood them more than barely at all.

The Blue Planet is billed as the ultimate guide to the oceans. The 2001 nature documentary series was filmed in over 200 locations over a span of five years, and narrated by the legendary David Attenborough. Visually stunning, The Blue Planet was also ground-breaking for capturing animals and animal behaviour never before seen on film, and won a bunch of awards, including multiple Emmys and BAFTAs.

The Blue Planet is one of five documentary series narrated by David Attenborough on Netflix, including Africa, Life, Planet Earth and Frozen Planet.

Making a Murderer

Making a Murderer is the story of Manitowoc County native Steven Avery and the miscarriages of justice he suffered. Yes, miscarriages, plural.

Avery’s story was larger than life. In 1985, he was convicted of sexual assault, and after serving 18 years of his prison sentence, his conviction was overturned thanks to new DNA evidence. Upon his release, Avery filed a civil suit against Manitowoc County and several county officials associated with his arrest.

And in a TV trope-worthy turn of events, he was soon charged with the murder of Teresa Halbach, a photographer last seen on his family property photographing a minivan for sale.

So who is the real Steven Avery? Was he really a victim of injustice?  And what were the problems behind Manitowoc County’s procedures? Making a Murderer is part of a new wave of true crime shows that are capturing the public’s imagination.

Comparisons have been drawn with the podcast Serial and the HBO miniseries The Jinx.

The Wolfpack

How would you turn out if you were trapped in your home for your entire childhood?

Locked away for 14 years in their apartment in New York City by their domineering father, the Angulo boys are homeschooled by their mother and only let out on rare occasions. What they knew about the world, they learnt from Hollywood films like Reservoir Dogs and The Dark Knight Rises. They also re-enact scenes, and even cleverly fashioned a Batman costume from cereal boxes and yoga mats, exercising every ounce of their creativity to escape their mundane world.

In a moment of serendipity, the boys chanced upon documentary filmmaker Crystal Moselle and she became their first friend from the outside world. In the years observing them as they slowly grew out of their father’s shadow, Crystal’s documentary of The Wolfpack gives a larger-than-life account of this fascinating family, which is so strange it has to be real.

The Wolfpack was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.