#5: THE COVE (2009)
You may have heard about this Oscar-winning documentary on Japanese dolphin hunts when the movie debuted in theaters last fall. If you didn't catch it then, it's still worth a look. In the film, the directors follow a team of activists that includes Richard O'Barry, the former dolphin trainer on the TV series Flipper (who now advocates for humane treatment of the animals), as they attempt to document a brutal tactic employed by tuna fishermen. The fishermen corral dolphins into a hidden cove off the coast of Japan where dolphins are either slaughtered or captured and sold to aquariums and other marine entertainment facilities. The film also exposes how dolphin meat is collected from the cove and fed to Japanese schoolchildren, a practice made particularly disturbing by the fact that dolphin meat is exceedingly high in brain-damaging mercury as a result of animals' preference for tuna (the reason the fishermen like to get rid of them in the first place). The Cove is not for the squeamish, but any lover of dolphins will probably want to take a look at how such intelligent and seemingly friendly animals are treated, not just in Japan, but around the world.