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50 best mockumentary movies

  • 50 best mockumentary movies

    At one point in Rob Reiner’s seminal 1984 mockumentary, “This Is Spinal Tap,” Michael McKean’s pretentious rock star declares, “I believe virtually everything I read, and I think that is what makes me more of a selective human than someone who doesn’t believe anything.”

    The line does a fine job of summing up mockumentaries as a genre, which poke fun at real-life phenomena and events through seemingly “realistic,” faux-documentary film techniques. This art form has been around in a major way since 1938, when Orson Welles read a fake radio news broadcast adapted from H.G. Wells’ alien-invasion tale “War of the Worlds” and convinced many Americans that little green men had in fact touched down on Earth. Since then, film versions of mockumentaries have built upon that dynamic, blurring the line between real-life sensationalism and pointed, fictional comedy.

    Mockumentaries began to hit their stride in the 1960s with acclaimed films like 1964’s “A Hard Day’s Night” and 1969’s “Take the Money and Run” leading to the genre-defining British heavy metal spoof, 1984’s “This Is Spinal Tap.” From “Spinal Tap” came Christopher Guest, a director whose body of work (including films such as “Waiting for Guffman,” “Best In Show,” and “For Your Consideration”) became synonymous with high-profile, largely improvisational mockumentaries.

    Stacker compiled IMDb data to determine the 50 best mockumentaries of all time as of Sept. 11, 2020. Because fewer mockumentaries exist in comparison to other film genres, TV movies and a few films with runtimes between 30 and 60 minutes that met all other requirements were also included. Ties were broken by the number of votes, and each movie on the list has been considered in terms of what it has added to the cinematic development and history of the genre.

    Counting down from 50, here are the best mockumentaries of all time.

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  • #50. Chalk (2006)

    - Director: Mike Akel
    - IMDb user rating: 6.2
    - Votes: 1,296
    - Metascore: 70

    “Chalk” is a comedy mockumentary that centers on three teachers (Troy Schremmer, Chris Mass, and Janelle Schremmer) and one assistant principal (Shannon Haragan), who are muddling through another year at a classic American high school. Based on Akel’s and Mass’ real-life teaching experiences and almost entirely improvised, the movie was praised for flipping the “inspirational teacher movie” trope on its head. “‘Chalk’ mines nervous laughter from the gulf between teacher and student culture, and the contrast between how its simultaneously self-conscious and oblivious teachers see themselves, and how the rest of the world sees them,” wrote The A.V. Club’s Nathan Rabin

  • #49. LolliLove (2004)

    - Director: Jenna Fischer
    - IMDb user rating: 6.2
    - Votes: 1,349
    - Metascore: data not available

    In “The Office” star Jenna Fischer’s directorial debut, she and her then-husband James Gunn play an out-of-touch, wealthy Californian couple who decide to document their efforts to “help” the local homeless population by giving them lollipops with a positive slogan on the wrapper. As the couple continue to performatively give back to impress their peers, their disconnect from the people to whom they’re supposedly giving charity becomes more and more clear. Fischer went on to receive a Screen Actors Guild Emerging Actor Award for her role in “Lollilove” and joined the cast of “The Office” shortly later.

  • #48. The Big Tease (1999)

    - Director: Kevin Allen
    - IMDb user rating: 6.2
    - Votes: 2,312
    - Metascore: 53

    Craig Ferguson is Crawford Mackenzie, a Scottish hairdresser who is invited to the prestigious World Hairdresser International Federation’s annual contest while being filmed for a BBC documentary. Crawford is humiliated to arrive in Los Angeles and discover that he has only been invited to the event as an audience member, but sets out to prove himself on camera. TV Guide critic Ken Fox wrote that the film’s “potshots are perfectly aimed and Ferguson plays it all with so much heart you'll find yourself seriously rooting for a spiky-haired Scotsman in a skin-tight three-piece.”

  • #47. I'm Still Here (2010)

    - Director: Casey Affleck
    - IMDb user rating: 6.2
    - Votes: 20,558
    - Metascore: 48

    Collaborating with his friend, director Casey Affleck, Joaquin Phoenix plays a fictionalized version of himself who quits his acting career and embarks on a haphazard transition into a full-time hip-hop career. The actor appeared in character during several public appearances in the midst of filming, giving even major outlets like E! Online the impression that he really was quitting Hollywood to pursue music.

  • #46. CB4 (1993)

    - Director: Tamra Davis
    - IMDb user rating: 6.3
    - Votes: 8,637
    - Metascore: 49

    This mockumentary follows the fictional rap group named “CB4” (played by Chris Rock, Allen Payne, and Deezer D) whose name comes from the prison block where their band was originally formed (Cell Block 4). "CB4" mainly parodies the “gangsta rap” genre (particularly taking aim at rappers from the group N.W.A.), and is composed of many segments featuring celebrities such as Halle Berry, Ice Cube, Flavor Flav, and Shaquille O’Neal.

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  • #45. For Your Consideration (2006)

    - Director: Christopher Guest
    - IMDb user rating: 6.3
    - Votes: 13,762
    - Metascore: 68

    Conceived as a parody of Hollywood award season “for your consideration” campaigns, Christopher Guest’s comedy centers on three actors (Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, and Harry Shearer) who are seized by ambition after hearing internet gossip that their roles in a drama they’re in the midst of filming could generate awards-season attention. However, things don’t go as planned after the studio president overseeing the film suggests some last-minute changes. O’Hara in particular was praised for her role in “For Your Consideration'' and was nominated for Best Female Lead at the Independent Spirit Awards.

  • #44. 2gether (2000 TV movie)

    - Director: Nigel Dick
    - IMDb user rating: 6.4
    - Votes: 1,429
    - Metascore: data not available

    The mockumentary subject of “2gether” is its titular fictional boy band, whose members all fulfill a particular niche: “The Heartthrob” (Evan Farmer), “The Shy One” (Noah Bastian), “The Cute One” (Michael Cuccione), “The Older Brother” (Kevin Farley), and “The Bad Boy” (Alex Solowitz). Apart from serving as a spoof of ‘90s boy bands like Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync, the film was also the first feature produced exclusively for MTV. The actors recorded two real musical albums as 2gether (“2gether” and “2Gether: Again”), both of which were released in 2000.

  • #43. Brothers of the Head (2005)

    - Directors: Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe
    - IMDb user rating: 6.4
    - Votes: 1,705
    - Metascore: 67

    Harry and Luke Treadaway play Tom and Barry Howe, British conjoined twins who are groomed by a music promoter and form a punk-rock band called Bang Bang. When music journalist Laura (Tania Emery) profiles the twins, her blossoming romance with Tom leads to tensions between the brothers. “Brothers of the Head” is based on Brian Aldiss’ 1977 novel of the same name.

  • #42. C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America (2004)

    - Director: Kevin Willmott
    - IMDb user rating: 6.4
    - Votes: 4,727
    - Metascore: 62

    Through the efforts of fictional British documentarians, “C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America” imagines an alternate history where the South won the Civil War. The movie unfolds chronologically, documenting major Confederate historical events from the 1800s to the early 21st century. Director Kevin Willmott said the film was inspired by Ken Burns’ 1990 documentary “The Civil War,” and that he hopes that its exploration of American racism will make audiences “start talking."

  • #41. David Holzman's Diary (1967)

    - Director: Jim McBride
    - IMDb user rating: 6.5
    - Votes: 1,453
    - Metascore: data not available

    In an early example of mockumentary filmmaking, “David Holzman’s Diary” stars L.M. Kit Carson as David, a young New York City filmmaker who decides to document several days in his life after being laid off from his job. In The New York Times’ review of the movie, critic Nora Sayre called it “a totally delightful satire of cinéma vérité” that “mocks those ghastly reels from the 1960s, when various filmmakers immortalized themselves or their friends by trying and failing to be spontaneous.” “David Holzman’s Diary” also serves as a portrait of New York in 1967, as David wanders his Manhattan neighborhood and fears that he will soon be drafted into the Vietnam War.

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