1. Bustin' Down the Door
A 2008 documentary that documents in the most dramatic fashion the Hawaiian winters of '74/'75 and '75/'76. Why do these winters matter? In 1974, surfers from Australia and South Africa dominated the big-wave events on the North Shore.
The Hawaiians weren't thrilled, but what made an already tense situation reach life-or-death levels was when the Australians boasted about their exploits in print. This documentary is a meticulous account of that violent and terrifying winter of '75/'76.
2. Lost Atlas
Kai Neville's follow-up film to his high-performance statement Modern Collective. Lost Atlas, however, finds a filmmaker suddenly able to express his intention without any technical limitations. Dusty Payne's sequence is still regarded by many as the best in a surf film for a long time.
3. Riding Giants
Stacey Peralta, the one-time skate-superstar-turned-celebrated-filmmaker (Dogtown and Z-Boys), narrates and directs this documentary about the rise of big-wave surfing. Stacey doesn't do anything by halves. Riding Giants is as compelling as it is important as a document of an often-misunderstood art.
4. Blue Horizon
A sponsor-funded film from 2003 that was meant to show the lifestyle differences of the free surfer (Dave Rastovich) and the competitive animal (Andy Irons) ended up becoming a stunning account of winning and losing at the highest level.
"I just want to crush Kelly's pretty picture," says Andy Irons. The filmmaker Jack McCoy later captured Slater weeping in the shower after a crushing world title defeat against Andy at Pipeline.
5. Blue Crush
This isn't meant to be a shock choice. Yeah, it's Hollywood and, yeah, it's cheeseball at times. But the moment in this 2002 feature when Hawaiian bodyboarder-turned-actor Chris Taloa tells Kate Bosworth to "stop with this surfing the sandbar horsesh*t" and tries to paddle her into a set at Pipe? If you surf, if you've ever contemplated actually riding 10-foot Pipe, your heart will be in your mouth.