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The Best Ever YouTube Documentaries

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Herd takes you into the wild with beautiful horses

Is your television on the blink? Has your ex finally logged you out of their Netflix account? Whatever the reason, sometimes you need to fall back on YouTube to deliver the goods. It’s one thing falling down a YouTube wormhole of bizarre videos that lasts until 3 am and leaves you feeling more confused than when you started, it’s totally another to watch a made-for-YouTube documentary. Increasingly this do it yourself platform is being used by professionals to get their work directly to viewers with as little fuss as possible. This means that some of the documentaries on the platform provide raw and unfiltered views into the worlds that they portray. We’ve pulled together several of the very best YouTube documentaries that will give you an honest look into true stories that you may never have even considered.


Nosebleed is a very real look into the world of poker

Nosebleed regularly ranks as one of the best poker documentaries out there, so the fact it is available to watch on YouTube is brilliant. This feature-length documentary largely follows the story of two French poker players as they navigate the world of ultra-competitive online poker. Often poker films and documentaries are hyped up to the point where, for any serious player, it’s almost difficult to enjoy them. Nosebleed instead focuses on the day-to-day life of a poker player, including the bits that don’t make for a cinematic masterpiece. One such scene involves the two players waiting for another player to come online to try and play against him. It’s dull, but it’s also a window into what life as a professional poker player is actually like. Of course, there are the high octane parts as well, but having the chance to see a balanced view is the important thing about this documentary and it’s all the better for the moments of calm, or dare we say it, boredom.

This is the Zodiac Speaking

Anyone who’s even remotely interested in the true crime genre will be familiar with the story of the Zodiac killer. Prolific in the late 1960s in Northern California, this killer left at least five victims behind. He also left a cryptic note which he insisted was printed in a newspaper in the hopes that people would work it out. There have been many documentaries about the Zodiac Killer, but this feature-length documentary by David Prior is maybe the most immersive. It’s composed largely of archival footage, showing the key players in this investigation. If you were a fan of the film starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey-Jr then this should be added to your YouTube playlist immediately. Prior is known for his unusual documentary-making style. His works are often described as visual essays rather than documentaries as they are so information-heavy. If you enjoy this style then it’s worth checking out some of his other documentaries, in particular Voir, a series that was commissioned for Netflix and asks film lovers about their favorite ever cinematic moments. There are some famous faces in the series so there’ll definitely be people you’re keen to find out about.


This documentary is, in a sense, promotional material, but it’s also beautiful, so it absolutely deserves its spot on the list. Herd tracks an adventure into the wildlife with horses and at an hour-long is totally immersive. For those who enjoy horse-based viewing, it doesn’t get much better than this, but it will also appeal to those who are on board with the slow cinema trend or indeed love a nature documentary. Exploring rugged wilderness and tender moments with these beautiful creatures is the perfect way to wind down from a stressful day. Not only is this one of the most relaxing YouTube documentaries out there, but it’s also been widely recognized as such. Herd has been nominated for handfuls of awards and won Best Cinematography, Best Director, and Best Documentary outright at some of them. If you feel like being whisked away on a spiritual retreat, complete with herds of magnificent horses then you’ll be hard pushed to find something better than this.

Author: Bruna Freire

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