The best dramas on Netflix right now

Most of us don’t relish conflict in real life. But on the silver screen? Conflict is the essence of drama, and seeing intense emotions play out on-screen between compelling characters is absolutely riveting. Dramas can make us re-examine ourselves, feel uplifted, and so much more — that’s why it’s such a crowded genre and the one you most often see at the Oscars. If you’re looking for a great drama, your Netflix subscription gives you access to a ton of good choices. But it also has a number of duds. We’ve sorted the wheat from the chaff for you. Here are the best dramas on Netflix right now.

Netflix may be a treasure trove when it comes to content, but it doesn’t have everything. Thankfully, we’ve also curated a list of the best dramas on Hulu and the best drama shows on Amazon Prime Video.

Recently added to Netflix

Wind River (2017) new

Wind River
87%
73 %
7.7/10
r 107m
Genre Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Stars Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Gil Birmingham
Directed by Taylor Sheridan
Wildlife officer Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) finds the body of an 18-year-old woman on an American Indian reservation in the dead of winter in Wyoming. The autopsy reveals that she was raped, pulling FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) into the investigation. As the two law enforcement officers join forces, they soon find that the teen’s death is part of a much larger conspiracy that threatens both of their lives.

The Lost Daughter (2021) new

The Lost Daughter
96%
85 %
7.1/10
r 122m
Genre Drama
Stars Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson
Directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal
Somewhat polarizing between critics and audiences, The Lost Daughter is an artsy drama about memory and the endurance of pain. Leda (Olivia Colman) is alone on a seaside vacation when she becomes obsessed with the relationship between a mother and daughter — as well as their extended family. As Leda gets closer to the family, she becomes overwhelmed by a wave of memories of her own early motherhood until an impulsive act shocks her deep into the recesses of her own mind, forced to face the choices she made as a young mother.

Apocalypse Now (1979) new

Apocalypse Now
93%
94 %
8.4/10
r 147m
Genre Drama, War
Stars Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Based on Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” Apocalypse Now is considered one of the greatest war movies ever made. The intense drama follows Secret Ops assassin Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) on a mission up a river during the Vietnam War to terminate the rogue Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). Netflix offers Apocalypse Now Redux, a 2001 re-release that includes new footage and improved color reproduction.

The Power of the Dog (2021) new

The Power of the Dog
95%
89 %
7.7/10
r 127m
Genre Drama, Western
Stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons
Directed by Jane Campion
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as cowboy Phil Burbank in this slow-burning Western. Phil’s entire life is tied up in the land, and he’s known throughout 1920s Montana as one of the best ranchers around. One night, he heads into market with his brother, George (Jesse Plemmons), where they meet Rose (Kirsten Dunst), the widowed proprietress of the Red Mill restaurant and her son, Peter. While George takes an immediate liking to Rose, Phil treats her barbarically. But when George returns to the restaurant to propose to Rose and bring her back to the Burbank ranch, Phil is forced to adapt. As such, he takes Peter under his wing. Or does he?

Moneyball (2011) new

Moneyball
94%
87 %
7.6/10
pg-13 134m
Genre Drama
Stars Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Directed by Bennett Miller
The story of the 2002 Oakland Athletics and their general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), Moneyball follows Beane’s crusade against the conventional baseball wisdom that has existed for a century. With a tight budget, Beane sets out to completely reinvent his team trusting the statistical findings and theories of Ivy League graduate Peter Brand (Jonah Hill). Challenging the old traditions, Beane uses statistics to increase his team’s margin for error and create a winning team out of bargain-bin players that scouts have long written off.

Passing (2021) new

Passing
90%
85 %
6.6/10
pg-13 98m
Genre Drama
Stars Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, André Holland
Directed by Rebecca Hall
In 1920s New York, Irene (Tessa Thompson) reconnects with an old childhood friend (Ruth Negga) whom she soon discovers is passing as white in the city. Irene soon finds her consideration of her own identity and her relationship with the world turned upside down by this shocking development.

The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)

The Fundamentals of Caring
77%
55 %
7.3/10
pg-13 97m
Genre Comedy, Drama
Stars Paul Rudd, Craig Roberts, Selena Gomez
Directed by Rob Burnett
Paul Rudd headlines The Fundamentals of Caring as Ben Benjamin, a frustrated writer whose marriage has crumbled. Ben reinvents himself as a caregiver, and he is soon hired to look after Trevor (Craig Roberts), a teenager suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Despite their shared emotional pain, Ben and Trevor form a bond and take a road trip together. Along the way, they run into a hitchhiker named Dot (Selena Gomez), a young woman who also wants to get away from her life. But while the trip is a fun experience, it also leads the trio to face some uncomfortable truths about themselves and each other.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

The Trial of the Chicago 7
89%
76 %
7.8/10
r 130m
Genre Drama, History
Stars Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Directed by Aaron Sorkin
Aaron Sorkin wrote and directed The Trial of the Chicago 7, based on the real experiences of anti-war protesters Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen), Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong), Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), Rennie Davis (Alex Sharp), David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch), Lee Weiner (Noah Robbins), and John Froines (Daniel Flaherty). Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) may not have been among the seven, but he was also on trial, and the film tells his story as well. Together, they took a strong moral stand even as the judge appeared to be hellbent on putting them away.

Shutter Island (2010)

Shutter Island
68%
63 %
8.2/10
r 138m
Genre Drama, Thriller, Mystery
Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley
Directed by Martin Scorsese
While it may fit more precisely in the thriller genre, Shutter Island is too classically twisty to not include it on this list. Martin Scorsese directs this mystery in which nothing is quite as it seems. After the implausible escape of a brilliant murderess from a fortress-like insane asylum on a remote New England island, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner (Mark Ruffalo) arrive on the island. The woman appears to have vanished out of thin air, but there are hints of terrible mistreatment and awful living conditions all over the island. But as Teddy’s investigation deepens, he begins to battle with his own paranoia that he won’t make it off the island alive.

Pieces of a Woman (2020)

Pieces of a Woman
75%
66 %
7.1/10
r 127m
Genre Drama
Stars Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn
Directed by Kornél Mundruczó
Tragedy runs rampant in Kornél Mundruczó’s Pieces of a Woman, starring Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf as Martha and Sean, a Boston couple welcoming their first baby by way of a home birth. When the beautiful moment turns into devastation, Martha slips into a spell of overbearing grief, an emotional bubble that begins to eat away at the young woman and her closest relationships. Featuring one of the most intense first acts in recent dramatic history, Pieces of a Woman is led by a powerhouse performance from Kirby, elevating our sense of grief and pain to whole new levels.

A Ghost Story (2017)

A Ghost Story
91%
81 %
6.9/10
r 93m
Genre Drama, Fantasy
Stars Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Will Oldham
Directed by David Lowery
The supernatural meets the tear-jerking woes of leaving home and starting over in writer-director David Lowery’s A Ghost Story. C and M (Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara) are a young couple that has just moved into what we assume is their first home together. Unbeknownst to the pair, there’s an ethereal essence hovering throughout the property and making a racket in the night. In the wake of a tragedy, it turns out that the mystical wanderer is much closer to the couple than they could ever imagine. A searing examination of life, death, love, and everything in between, A Ghost Story will make you question your existence, as well as your appetite for chocolate pie (a notable scene).

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020)

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
97%
87 %
7.0/10
r 94m
Genre Drama, Music
Stars Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman
Directed by George C. Wolfe
Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis were nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress for their powerhouse turns in the adaptation of August Wilson’s play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. While neither Boseman nor Davis won, this is a movie that will only add to their respective legends. Davis portrays an iconic blues singer, Ma Rainey, during a contentious studio recording in 1927. The late Boseman plays Levee Green, Ma’s ambitious trumpeter who dreams of having a band of his own. Unfortunately, Levee’s antagonistic personality threatens to destroy all of his hopes in one night. Regardless, Boseman imbues the role with raw emotion and an unforgettable performance.

Mank (2020)

Mank
83%
79 %
6.9/10
r 132m
Genre Drama, History
Stars Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins
Directed by David Fincher
Mank was the passion project of writer Jack Fincher, who wrote the screenplay in the ‘90s. Three decades later, Jack’s son, David Fincher, directed the film for Netflix and earned a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. Fittingly, the movie is about the making of one of the all-time great films: Citizen Kane. Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) is chosen by Orson Welles (Tom Burke) to write his magnum opus, which was inspired in part by the powerful publisher William Randolph Hearst. In flashback, we learn that Herman has a history with both William and William’s much younger lover, Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried). Creating a masterpiece isn’t easy, but it sure is entertaining.

Mystic River (2003)

Mystic River
88%
84 %
7.9/10
r 138m
Genre Thriller, Crime, Drama, Mystery
Stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon
Directed by Clint Eastwood
In Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River, three lifelong friends are torn apart by crimes three decades apart. When he was a child, Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins) was kidnapped and raped before his eventual release. In the present, Dave comes home with bloody clothes and claims that he killed a child molester. However, Dave’s friends, Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn) and Detective Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon), suspect that he actually killed Jimmy’s daughter, Katie (Emmy Rossum). And when Dave’s answers prove to be elusive, his friends pursue their own brand of justice.

Concrete Cowboy (2020)

Concrete Cowboy
80%
67 %
6.3/10
r 111m
Genre Drama, Western
Stars Idris Elba, Caleb McLaughlin, Jharrel Jerome
Directed by Ricky Staub
When 15-year-old Cole (Caleb McLaughlin) is uprooted from the hard streets of Detroit, the youth is sent to live with his father, Harp (Idris Elba), in Philadelphia. What Cole could never expect to experience in a new city setting is an Old West lifestyle, propagated by his father and a larger band of inner-city Black cowboys. Patrolling the streets on horseback, the nomadic cavalcade acts as a vigilante group for crime-plagued North Philly. Inspired in part by the Fletcher Street Stables and based upon the novel Ghetto Cowboy by Greg Neri, Concrete Cowboy is powered by an incredible script, superb cinematography, and an especially impressive father-and-son dynamic between Elba and McLaughlin.

Sky High (2020)

Sky High
39%
5.6/10
121m
Genre Action, Drama, Thriller
Stars Miguel Herrán, Carolina Yuste, Asia Ortega
Directed by Daniel Calparsoro
When Angel (Miguel Herrán) leaves the slums of Madrid behind, he becomes smitten with the lovely Estrella (Carolina Yuste). As the youth struggles to prove himself in a newfound life of crime, an unrelenting detective will stop at nothing to put Angel behind bars. A gritty, well-executed drama featuring impressive performances from the main ensemble, Sky High may not get the attention of other Netflix fodder, but it’s a film that definitely deserves to be noticed.

Rain Man (1988)

Rain Man
89%
65 %
8.0/10
r 134m
Genre Drama
Stars Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino
Directed by Barry Levinson
Hotshot car dealer Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) discovers his estranged father has died and returns home to Cincinnati expecting to inherit his father’s entire estate. When he arrives, however, he learns that he has an autistic older brother named Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) and that his father’s fortune is being left to the mental institution where Raymond lives. Believing he can rewrite the will and get his hands on the money, Charlie checks Raymond out of the facility to live with him to Los Angeles. On a cross-country road trip, Charlie finds a deep connection to Raymond that he never expected to arise.

Marriage Story (2019)

Marriage Story
94%
94 %
7.9/10
r 137m
Genre Drama
Stars Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern
Directed by Noah Baumbach
Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story was one of an astonishing number of Netflix Originals to win Academy Awards in 2019. On the surface, it’s an ordinary movie about an ordinary situation: Man and wife struggle through a divorce. But the depths through which Baumbach explores his characters and gut-wrenching performances from Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver make it hard to look away as these two people who clearly still love each other come to the unavoidable conclusion that they just can’t stay married.

The Two Popes (2019)

The Two Popes
89%
75 %
7.6/10
pg-13 125m
Genre Drama, Comedy, History
Stars Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce, Juan Minujín
Directed by Fernando Meirelles
Headlined by tour de force performances from two legendary actors, The Two Popes centers on the transition from Pope Benedict and Pope Francis. A quiet movie that takes place behind the Vatican walls, the two popes could not be more different, but they’re bound by a devotion to the Catholic Church and a shared desire to leave the world a better place. Regardless of your feelings on the Catholic Church, The Two Popes is an entertaining, heartwarming movie about finding common ground through difference. Something we could all learn a little about these days.

There Will Be Blood (2007)

There Will Be Blood
91%
93 %
8.2/10
r 158m
Genre Drama
Stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Kevin J. O'Connor
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Daniel Day-Lewis is as electrifying as ever in Paul Thomas Anderson’s grim depiction of the American oil rush in early 20th-century California. Day-Lewis plays Daniel Plainview, an aspiring oil baron who will do anything to make a quick buck. So when Paul Sunday (Paul Dano) arrives on his farm and claims there’s oil on the Sunday property, the two men make an arrangement. Daniel journeys to the town of Little Boston with his son in tow and angle to purchase the Sunday Ranch for drilling. But Sunday hasn’t been exactly contrite. There Will Be Blood descends into a hellscape of business clashing with faith and the supernatural, all powered by Day-Lewis’s Oscar-winning performance.

Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems
92%
91 %
7.4/10
r 136m
Genre Drama, Thriller, Crime
Stars Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Lakeith Stanfield
Directed by Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie
Uncut Gems is a drama for those with extremely high stress-tolerance. The Safdie Brothers’ drama about a gambling-addicted jeweler is a nonstop adrenaline rush. Adam Sandler plays Howard Ratner, a high-end New York City jeweler who is constantly looking out for his next big windfall. So when NBA All-Star Kevin Garnett takes an interest in Howard’s most recent high-value acquisition, Ratner makes a bet on his good fortune. When his bets on Garnett start paying off, Ratner takes his winnings and makes increasingly high-stakes, irresponsible bets that could net him a retirement fund. Unfortunately, he’s in too deep for some people in his life to wait for that payoff.

The Irishman (2019)

The Irishman
95%
94 %
7.8/10
r 209m
Genre Crime, Drama, History
Stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci
Directed by Martin Scorsese
One of the first Netflix Original Films to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman is one of his most ambitious films to date. Scorsese helped establish the gangster genre with films like Goodfellas and Casino, but The Irishman is notably more subdued than those seminal films. The story follows Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), an employee of legendary union leader and mob boss Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), as he rises from bodyguard to confidante. But as Hoffa becomes more trouble than he’s worth, the other mafia bosses feel it may be time to move on from him, and Sheeran’s the key to it all.

Editors' Recommendations

Movie images and data from: