Flavorwire’s 10 Best Documentaries of 2017

'Jane,' 'The Work,' 'Whitney: Can I Be Me,' and more of the year's nonfiction highlights.

9. A Gray State

On Christmas Day in 2014, an independent filmmaker named David Crowley killed his wife, his five-year-old daughter, and himself. But because of cryptic clues he left behind, and the fact that he was making a Libertarian fringe thriller for the Alex Jones set, this horrible tragedy became fodder for that fringe audience, many of whom believe he was silenced for his anti-government leanings. Erik Nelson’s sad and often chilling documentary is born of the same climate that infests our airwaves and social media with the most feverish of conspiracy theories, while disclosing that those elaborate scenarios paper over a far more common story: that of a couple succumbing to despair, and to the same kind of paranoia that infused his work. This is a hard movie to watch, as his private audio and video recordings serve as journals of a descent into madness. But it’s a harrowing portrait of how easily our own darkness can take us over, if we let it.