The ''Tabloid'' director has been making eye-opening investigative docs for over 30 years

By Adam Markovitz
Updated July 15, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT

1. The Fog of War (2003)
This candid interview with Robert S. McNamara — the steely former secretary of defense who shaped the Vietnam War — won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.

2. Standard Operating Procedure (2008)
Morris staged elaborate reenactments to illustrate the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib.

3. Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (1997)
Archival clips from oddball B movies punctuate this profile of four men with weird jobs, including a lion tamer and a topiary sculptor.

4. The Thin Blue Line (1988)
The thriller-taut doc helped free its subject, Randall Adams, who was serving a life sentence for a 1976 murder he didn’t commit.

5. Gates of Heaven (1978)
Morris’ first movie is a moving, tragicomic portrait of the people whose lives were touched by the closing of a California pet cemetery.