Apparently Morgan Spurlock is going to host a show where he counts down the best documentaries of all time. Since asking Spurlock to host such a show is like asking Avril Lavigne to host a countdown of the best bands of all time, we here at Picktainment are going to beat him to the punch. So here are the top 20 documentaries of all time and one honorable mention.

Honorable Mention: Warren Miller Films (1950-Present) – As an avid skier I’m compelled to include a Warren Miller film in a list of the greatest documentaries, but since they are over 50 of them and they are all essentially just a bunch of great skiers skiing in awesome places it’s impossible to single one out as the best. So just look at all of the collective films as one entity and know that all of them are beautifully shot and Warren Miller in many ways broke new ground with sports documentaries and certainly in the popularization of extreme snow sports. Thus, they get an honorable mention.

20. Endless Summer (1966) – I’m only including the original because the sequels aren’t as good. As for its merits, it’s a Warren Miller film with surfing instead of snowboarding, but there’s the added element of a global trip so it ends up embodying a certain type of carefree, adventure-seeking lifestyle.

19. Darwin’s Nightmare (2004) – Admittedly I found it very slow-going, but when all the various threads come together in the end it makes it worthwhile. It details how the introduction of a foreign fish to Lake Victoria screws up the local ecosystem and how the fisheries make money by selling the destructive fish to European markets leaving Africa’s ecosystem scarred and its people exploited.

18. Don’t Look Back (1967)/No Direction Home (2003) – I’m combining the two Bob Dylan documentaries because while both were good, frankly the movie I’m Not Here did a better job capturing the mystic, madness and genius of Dylan in an artistic and confusing way that is befitting of his life.

17. :03 Seconds from Gold (2002) – I know some lists don’t count HBO documentaries, but I do. Of all the HBO docs, this one isn’t well known but it covers the basketball gold medal game in the 1972 Olympics. Most people don’t know that story, but the U.S. was ripped off by terrible and dubious officiating and so lost to the USSR. The U.S. players refused to accept their silver medals and their anger about the events still come across as they’re interviewed.

16. The Fog of War (2003) – Errol Morris won an Academy Award for this and not The Thin Blue Line, which is crazy. This one gets included due to its unprecedented access as former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara sits down for an honest discussion of the Vietnam War.

15. The Battle of Chile (1975-79) – This is a Ken Burns-style documentary covering the war in Chile and Pinchot’s rise to power. There isn’t much else to say beside the fact that it documents a bloody war and dictatorial rise to power that most people have never heard of.

14. Gimme Shelter (1970) –I’m a big fan of The Rolling Stones so already I’m onboard with the doc, but the movie reaches its guitar solo when the Stones, along with other bands, play at Altamont. The Hells Angels, providing security for the free concert, get in fights with the crowd and ultimately, as Mick belts out “Under My Thumb,” a fan is stabbed to death by a Hells Angel. There on the screen you can see the spirit of the 60s fade to black.

13. When We Were Kings (1996) – This look at the Ali vs. Foreman “Rumble in the Jungle” often gets cited as the quintessential sports doc, but to be honest, the event it covers offers most of the gravity while the film fails to really get into the surrounding issues (like Mobutu’s corruption, etc.). But any time Norman Mailer is going to talk about boxing, you can sign me up.

12. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (2003) – A group of Irish liberals want to make a doc about how great Hugo Chavez is, only as they are filming, a fluff piece a coup removes Chavez from office and he starts a minor revolution to retake the Presidency. Whatever your politics, the fact that these guys are filming right in the midst of a coup and revolution provides for some unbelievable footage.

11. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991) – Making Apocalypse Now! cost the studio entirely too much money because Coppola basically went insane with equipment and rewrites and story direction, while poor Martin Sheen had a heart attack. Not just the kids from college theater classes will enjoy all the artistic mayhem.

10. World Safari (1977/1984/1988) – Alby Mangels is a personal hero of mine so I’m including his trilogy of around-the-world travel documentaries. In each one Alby goes to far-flung places with little or no money or planning. It’s happy-go-lucky misadventure after happy-go-lucky misadventure, and therein it’s traveling at its highest art form.

9. Bowling for Columbine (2002) – I’m not a big fan of Michael Moore; in fact, I think he is kind of an asshole. But this was his first really big doc and with good reason. It’s a smart and intermittently absurd look into a tragedy and ridiculously lax gun legislation.

8. Grizzly Man (2005) – A documentary about a guy making a documentary about bears, but the guy making the bear documentary is insane so the meta-documentary about the guy making the documentary is a fascinating study in someone’s loose grip on reality and need to feel like they are doing something meaningful.

7. Man on Wire (2008) – I’m not an “artsy” person, but really, this documentary is unbelievably beautiful, and there is no chance I could describe it any further without doing its visuals an injustice.

6. The Thin Blue Line (1988) – I rank it ahead of Man on Wire because this movie got a guy off death row. In terms of cinematic accomplishments, it really tapped into America’s fascination with crime drama and perhaps was one of the building blocks for the boom of cop and law shows on television and in movies.

5. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005) – All of director Alex Gibney’s documentaries are good, but this one is the big enchilada. Peeking into Enron’s misdeeds, the doc manages to explain the economic maneuverings and illegality in a way that is understandable to non-economists and then wades into the waters of political corruption. And the fact that it so beautifully, although tragically, does so right before the country’s financial collapse, makes it all the more poignant. You really can’t fully appreciate the mess we’re in economically and politically until you’ve seen this film.

4. Do You Believe in Miracles? The Story of the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team (2001) – Another great HBO sports doc, this one goes through the formation and journey of the U.S. hockey team that beat the unbeatable USSR team in the Olympics. I know they made a movie about this, but honestly I don’t know why. The doc was phenomenal to the point that I was choked up at points, so why the need to dramatize something that was real and already dramatic?

3. Restrepo (2010) – Some documentaries rely on interviews, others on hard reporting. This one utilizes both of those means but ultimately just lets the camera do the work. The result is the most authentic representation of modern warfare that can possibly be experienced from a safe distance.

2. Hoop Dreams (1994) – The fact that this came out in 1994 is amazing to me, since the issues it concentrates on – race, poverty, and educational institutions operating as a cover for athletic exploitation – are probably more entrenched in 2011. As you follow William and Arthur trying to become pros, you go from chastising them for chasing such an unreasonable goal to hoping against hope that they make it so they can escape the life of poverty that will otherwise envelop them. It’s a sad picture made all the more sad when you realize it’s just holding a mirror up to modern society. I am constantly flabbergasted that no one has made an updated film like this about either college presidents and the BSC or the AAU basketball circuit.

1. When the Levees Broke (2006) – Any time you make a list like this there is going to be some debate about what should’ve been included and where things should’ve been ranked. However, for me, you can debate any of the other 19 documentaries and their ranks, but When the Levees Broke has to be number one. It focuses on one of this country’s greatest disasters ever and does so in a way that exposes the societal and political failings that led to and perpetuated it. And as sad and heart wrenching as it is, it still somehow manages to celebrate the uniqueness of New Orleans and its inhabitants. In watching each of the four parts, you undergo a range of emotions, from awestruck, to sad, to angry, and every one of those feelings sits in your guts and leaves a scar on your memory. That’s what a great documentary does: not only does it enlighten you or entertain you, it scars you up a bit so you go out into the world with a slightly altered perspective, one that sees beyond the superficial and into the underlying abyss. That’s why this is the unquestioned number one.