We know it sounds counterintuitive: Sit on your couch and stream these films to gain greater insight into the state of our physical and inner worlds, and some of the most memorable cultural moments of our time. While traveling is one of the most effective ways to see the world from a new vantage point, watching thought-provoking films or reading life-altering autobiographies can be a readily more accessible way of exposing yourself to different perspectives.
That said, if you want to expand your worldview, stream the best documentaries on HBO Go tonight. From a film that chronicles the last year of President Barack Obama's tenure through the lens of his foreign policy team, to a heart-warming documentary that follows autistic adolescents preparing for a formal dance, these compelling documentaries are more than worth your time. Here are our picks for the best documentaries on HBO Go to stream now.
Just a heads up: Some of these documentaries focus on themes of sexual abuse, addiction, and mental illness.
The Final Year
The Final Year chronicles the last year of President Obama's second term, focusing on the foreign-policy team. The film includes compelling interviews with former Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes.
Technically a documentary series, Being Serena provides an intimate look at the life of one of the best athletes of all time—from being to trailblazer to becoming a mother. Sports fans, mark your calendars.
Warning: This Drug May Kill You
Warning: This Drug May Kill You delves into the devastation caused by opioid addiction. Candid interviews with members of four families affected by the epidemic shed light on one of the most pressing health problems the United States is currently facing.
How to Dance in Ohio
In How to Dance in Ohio, director Alexandra Shina explores the social struggles adolescents with autism face through a group of young adults as they prepare for a formal dance. Anyone who wants to become more familiar with the fastest-growing developmental disorder in the United States will appreciate this documentary.
Oscar-nominated director Rebecca Cammisa exposes the lasting effects of toxic nuclear waste on St. Louis after it became a dumping ground for uranium in 1942 in Atomic Homefront. The film focuses on a group of moms-turned-activists who seek answers from everyone ranging from the Environmental Protection Agency to the corporations that operate in the city.
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
A Girl in the River highlights the strain between adhering to traditions and evolving with modernity in Pakistan. The Oscar-winning film follows Saba, a young woman who survived an attempted honor killing by her own family for falling in love with a man they did not approve of.
Beware the Slenderman
This chilling documentary delves into the details of a brutal crime committed by two 12-year-old girls. Meeting at the intersection of enduring adolescent isolation, dealing with mental health issues, and navigating the nebulousness of the Internet, Beware the Slenderman explores what happened leading up to and following the crime.
King in the Wilderness
Emmy-winning director Peter Kunhardt draws on archival footage, intimate behind-the-scenes interviews, and recorded conversations with President Johnson to paint a portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during his later years in the film, King in the Wilderness. The result is a documentary that depicts the human rights advocate in a new light.
Everything Is Copy
Nora Ephron's son interviews the people closest to his mother, the accomplished and beloved screenwriter, essayist, and director in Everything Is Copy. Fans of Ephron's films (When Harry Met Sally) and books (I Feel Bad About My Neck) won't want to miss this one.
In Going Clear, Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney investigates Scientology—arguably one of the religious beliefs most shrouded in mystery. Filled with remarkable details, this chilling documentary sometimes seems more like a gripping thriller—but it's all true.
We Are Not Done Yet
We Are Not Done Yet explores art as soothing balm to difficult, lived experience as we follow ten U.S. veterans navigating PTSD through creative expression. With the guidance of actor Jeffrey Wright, the group works toward a collaborative poem they will soon perform, and connect over revealing themes of war, death, and trauma.
The Inventor: Out for Blood
Is Elizabeth Holmes, former founder of Theranos a hustler, or a con artist? The Inventor interviews key insiders to piece together an allegedly fraudulent tale of how one multi-billion dollar healthcare company went from unicorn to disgrace, with Holmes at the helm.
At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal
On the outside, USA Gymnastics competed for victory, yet the culture within the system churning out award-winning female athletes revealed something much uglier than rigorous training. At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal spotlights the hidden abuse perpetrated by the organization, and its former physician Dr. Larry Nassar—currently in federal prison—through interviews with dozens of survivors, coaches, lawyers, and journalists.
One night in 1984, Lady Bunny and friends staged a spontaneous drag show in Tompkins Square Park. Since then, New York's annual drag festival Wigstock has celebrated the art of drag and queerness for nearly 20 years. Wig offers an inside look into the dynamic, contemporary movement.
Ice on Fire
Scientists, farmers, and innovators across the globe offer untold solutions to slow down rapid environmental changes. With sweeping cinematography from Norway to Alaska, Iceland to Colorado, Ice on Fire highlights the climate crisis and proposes ideas for reducing carbon emissions using traditional and new renewable energy sources, utilizing "draw down" methods, and others.
The Alzheimer's Project
Alzheimer's disease slowly deteriorates memory and thought, and has no cure. However, The Alzheimer's Project, a documentary series, reveals groundbreaking research that is reinvigorating a race for the cure. For the five to 11 million Americans the progressive brain disorder may affect by 2040, timing is crucial.
Cities are far from perfect. In Baltimore, for example, the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in police custody amplified tensions between authorities and the community. Baltimore Rising follows community members on all sides (activists, police officers, community leaders, gang affiliates) as they pursue change, including coming together in eye-opening ways.
David Bowie: The Last Five Years
In music legend David Bowie's final years, he gifted the world with two albums and a musical, ending nearly a decade of silence. David Bowie: The Last Five Years highlights these major projects and delves into his creative process, including interviews with Bowie's closest collaborators.
El Espiritu De La Salsa!
Dance, such as salsa (meaning "sauce" in Spanish) can be a transformative experience. With hypnotic Afro-Cuban beats and Caribbean rhythms, El Espiritu De La Salsa! follows a group of New Yorkers from varying walks of life who have come to learn the dance, and the life lessons gleaned along the way.
Game of Thrones: The Last Watch
Game of Thrones may be over, but there's another way to get your fix. Watch this two-hour documentary to go inside the making of the last season of the widely-acclaimed show.