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5 best dramas of 2023, ranked

This has been a fantastic year in film, especially for dramas. Superhero films have dominated the box office for nearly 20 years. Yet, a historical drama, Oppenheimer, grossed more at the worldwide box office than the year’s highest-grossing comic book movie, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. If you told someone that during The Avengers era, they wouldn’t believe you.

Not every drama had to dominate the box office like Oppenheimer to be called a success. Many critically acclaimed dramas have garnered recognition at some of the industry’s top award shows. Other dramas have been popular on streaming, where they found a new audience. Below, we selected five of the best 2023 dramas and where you can watch them. Our picks include Oppenheimer, a riveting courtroom thriller, and a wrestling drama that will break your heart.

5. The Iron Claw (2023)

Four brothers sit or stand alongside a fence.
Eric Chakeen / House Claw LLC

In the 1980s, the Von Erich family ruled professional wrestling. Based in Texas, the Von Erichs were a wrestling dynasty consisting of father, Fritz (Holt McCallany), and his sons: Kevin (The Greatest Beer Run Ever‘s Zac Efron), David (Harris Dickinson), Kerry (Jeremy Allen White), and Mike (Stanley Simons). Fritz and his boys helped popularize wrestling and took the sport to new heights thanks to their eccentric characters and family dynamic.

While A24’s The Iron Claw chronicles their rise to superstardom, it also focuses on their tragic fall. Without diving too much into spoilers, The Iron Claw pus Kevin at the center of the film and depicts how he handles unspeakable tragedies within his family, which became known as the “Von Erich curse.” Efron has never been better and should be a dark horse to receive an Oscar nomination. Tears will most certainly be shed while watching The Iron Claw.

The Iron Claw arrives in theaters on December 22, 2023.

4. Oppenheimer (2023)

Two men talk in Oppenheimer.
Universal Pictures

Ten years from now, 2023 in film will be defined by one word: Barbenheimer. The hype was real as critics and audiences alike showed up for Barbie and Oppenheimer. While Barbie is the highest-grossing film of 2023, Oppenheimer is currently third, an impressive feat for a three-hour historical biopic.

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer stars Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist who helped develop the atomic bomb. The film depicts Oppenheimer’s complicated life, from his time working on the Manhattan Project to the government hearing that revoked his security clearance and damaged his public reputation. Nolan is the only filmmaker who could pull off the recreation of The Trinity Test with such aplomb. Oppenheimer is a tour de force from start to finish and remains the favorite to win Best Picture at the 2024 Oscars.

Rent or buy Oppenheimer on YouTube, Prime Video, Apple, or Google.

3. Past Lives (2023)

Two people sit next to each other on a boat and stare in Past Lives.

No film told a more beautiful story in 2023 than Past Lives, Celine Song’s romantic drama from A24. Based on events in Song’s life, Past Lives follows Nora Moon (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) and their evolving relationship over 24 years. The film begins in South Korea with Nora and Hae Sung as childhood sweethearts. The second timeline picks up 12 years later, with the duo reconnecting over video chat as Nora lives in New York City and Hae Sung remains in South Korea.

The final timeline picks up 12 years later, with Nora living in the city’s East Village with her husband, Arthur (John Magaro). Hae Sung visits Nora, and the former soulmates discuss their feelings for one another and contemplate if they should end up together. Past Lives is about saying goodbye to your past, even if it’s difficult or causes pain. It focuses on the necessity to close an old door to move on and open the door to your future. This heartfelt depiction of human intimacy is one of the many reasons why I absolutely loved Past Lives.

Rent or buy Past Lives on YouTube, Prime Video, Apple, or Google.

2. Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)

A man leans up against a car while another man holds his arm in Killers of the Flower Moon.

Whenever Martin Scorsese puts out a movie, it’s an important moment in pop culture. At 81, who knows how many films Scorsese has left in the tank, meaning we all need to cherish these efforts from the greatest living American filmmaker. It also helps that Scorsese has not lost his fastball, as Killers of the Flower Moon is one of the director’s best films of the 21st century. Based on David Grann’s 2017 nonfiction book, Killers of the Flower Moon depicts the tragic murders of members of the Osage Nation in 1920s Oklahoma. The murders were carried out by ruthless and corrupt businessmen who wanted to control the oil and wealth of the Osage people.

At the film’s center is Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio), a war veteran who becomes a pawn for his uncle, William King Hale (Robert De Niro), the true mastermind behind the crimes. Seeking justice for her murdered relatives is Molly Kyle (Lily Gladstone), an Osage member who marries Ernest. In the wrong hands, Killers of the Flower Moon would not work, but Scorsese gives these injustices the time and care they deserve, never shying away from the hard truth and depiction of pure evil.

Rent or buy Killers of the Flower Moon on Amazon Prime Video and other digital vendors. 

1. Anatomy of a Fall (2023)

A woman and boy stare at a dead man in the snow.

Let’s set the scene for Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall. Samuel (Samuel Theis) is lying in the snow, dead after a tragic fall from the third floor of his French chalet. Daniel (Milo Machado-Graner), Samuel’s visually impaired son, finds his father’s lifeless body after coming back from a walk. Did Samuel fall out the window, or was he pushed? Was it an accident, a suicide, or a murder? After an investigation by the authorities, Sandra (Sandra Hüller), Samuel’s wife and Daniel’s mom, is indicted. Sandra is adamant that she did not kill Samuel and mounts a defense to prove her innocence.

This is where Anatomy of a Fall appears to become a courtroom thriller, and it technically is as the trial plays out. However, the audience soon realizes that Anatomy of a Fall is not about finding a killer, but examining how people form their truths through their biases and beliefs. Not only is Anatomy of a Fall a great drama, but it’s one of the five best thrillers of 2023.

Anatomy of a Fall is now in theaters. The film is expected to arrive on VOD on December 22, 2023.

Editors' Recommendations

Dan Girolamo
Dan is a passionate and multitalented content creator with experience in pop culture, entertainment, and sports. Throughout…
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