By all accounts, 2007 was a great year for American films. In addition to a slate of wildly acclaimed fictional films, a number of well regarded documentaries made their way into theaters. Unfortunately, most of those documentaries didn’t fare so well at the box office. However, some of them have made it onto “Best Of” lists by film critics and bloggers at the end of the year. Hopefully, these deserving films will find a bigger audience on DVD. Head on over to your netflix queue, and check out the best documentaries of 2007 according to the critics.

A film still from No End in Sight

No End in Sight

One documentary in particular muscled its way past the throngs of fictional films to end up on many a critics’ top ten list. The film was Charles Ferguson‘s Iraq doc No End in Sight, which our own Tom Roston wrote about a couple of weeks ago. No End in Sight, which takes a thorough look at the politics, strategy and history of the Iraq War, was the top polling documentary in the Best Film category of the Village Voice/LA Weekly Film Poll; it also showed up on IndieWire’s Critics Poll as the third best polling doc in the Best Film category (trailing Into Great Silence and Lake of Fire), and the top vote getter in the Best Documentary category. No End in Sight was also singled out by two New York Times film critics on their year end lists, and heralded by critics from Entertainment Weekly, Slate, and many other publications.
Other documentaries that showed up on Best Film lists (comprised of both fictional and nonfictional films) included Tony Kaye‘s Lake of Fire, which looks at all sides of the abortion debate; Into Great Silence by Phillip Groning, about life in a French monastery; and Terror’s Advocate by Barbet Schroder, which follows a controversial lawyer who has defended a Nazi war criminal, a Holocaust denier and other alleged terrorists.

These films also ended up near the top in various Best Documentary lists from critics, polls and bloggers. The Best Documentary lists, however, also bring attention to little-seen films like Jason Kohn‘s film about contemporary Brazil, Manda Bala; Jennifer Venditti‘s portrait of an troubled adolescent Billy the Kid; and Jennifer Bachiwal‘s Manufactured Landscapes, which follows Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky.

Here’s just a sampling of some of the Best Documentary 2007 lists on the web:
Village Voice/LA Weekly Film Poll – Best Documentary List
indieWIRE Critics Poll – Best Documentary List Documentaries – Top Ten Documentaries of 2007
Roger Ebert’s list of the year’s Best Documentaries (scroll to the bottom of the page to see the list)
Blogger and filmmaker AJ Schnack’s 10 favorite nonfiction films of 2007
GreenCine’s Best of 2007: Best Documentaries

Do you agree or disagree with the critics? Which docs do you think are overrated? And which ones have been overlooked. What are your top ten documentaries of 2007?

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Former POVer Ruiyan Xu worked on developing and producing materials for POV's website. Before coming to POV, she worked in the Interactive and Broadband department at Channel Thirteen/WNET. Ruiyan was born in Shanghai and graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Modern Culture and Media.