Skip to main content

The best dramas on Netflix right now

Netflix made a splashy debut into the film territory with its 2015 war drama Beasts of No Nation. Since then, the streamer has made a name for itself in original drama, boasting multiple nominees in the Best Picture category at the Academy Awards each of the past few years. Netflix now boasts one of the strongest dramatic libraries out of any streaming service, mainly because of its ability to attract top talent in front of and behind the camera. Their offerings also include stellar efforts from other studios, thanks to several well-made arrangements over the years.

Overall, Netflix has an impressive collection of dramatic movies, making it easier for you to avoid drama while searching for something to watch. To save you some time and effort, we’ve compiled a list of 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.

The Woman King (2022)
The Woman King
77 %
Genre Action, Drama, History
Stars Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch
Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood

Academy Award winner Viola Davis leads an impressive ensemble cast in Gina Prince-Bythewood’s historical epic The Woman King. Davis plays General Nanisca, the leader of an all-female group of warriors, the Agojie, tasked with protecting the kingdom of Dahomey.

As Nanisca trains the next generation of warriors, a foreign threat forces the Agojie to defend their kingdom and way of life. The Woman King received praise for its cast and action sequences, with many considering it among the best films of 2022. Unfortunately, it received no recognition from the Academy, with Davis’ snub in the Best Actress category being particularly controversial.

Carol (2015)
94 %
Genre Romance, Drama
Stars Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson
Directed by Todd Haynes

Acclaimed director Todd Haynes united Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and Oscar nominee Rooney Mara in the sweeping romantic drama Carol. The film follows the blossoming romance between Carol Aird, a mature woman going through a divorce, and Therese Belivet, an aspiring photographer, in 1950s New York.

Carol received universal acclaim from critics, who praised Haynes’ direction, Blanchett and Mara’s performances, and the film’s screenplay and production values. Carol often ranks among critics’ best movies of the 2010s, cementing its place as a modern classic.

American Gangster (2007)
American Gangster
76 %
Genre Drama, Crime
Stars Russell Crowe, Denzel Washington, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Directed by Ridley Scott

Academy Award nominee Ridley Scott directs Academy Award winners Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe in American Gangster. The film chronicles Frank Lucas’ criminal career in 1970s New York and the efforts of cop Richie Roberts to apprehend him. Although acclaimed by the industry, the film received criticism from its real-life subjects for the many creative liberties taken when adapting the story. Still, the cast received considerable praise, with Ruby Dee earning an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Les Misérables (2012)
Les Misérables
63 %
Genre History, Drama
Stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway
Directed by Tom Hooper

Tom Hooper, Oscar-winning director for The King’s Speech, brought the iconic stage musical Les Misérables to the screen in 2012. The decade-spanning epic stars Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, a man released from prison after serving a nineteen-year sentence who seeks to reinvent himself. He becomes the guardian of an orphaned child and cares for her while being pursued by a ruthless policeman at a time of deep social unrest in 18th-century France.

Although the film’s approach to live singing received mixed reviews — Russell Crowe’s vocal prowess earned particular scorn from critics and audiences –, Les Misérables was positively reviewed, with praise for Jackman and Anne Hathaway’s performances. Both earned Oscar nominations, with Hathaway winning Best Supporting Actress.

Mudbound (2017)
85 %
Genre Drama
Stars Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell
Directed by Dee Rees

Dee Rees directs the 2017 historical drama Mudbound. Set in World War II, the film centers on two veterans dealing with severe PTSD returning from the war as their families struggle with poverty in rural Mississippi. Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, and Mary J. Blige star. Mudbound received acclaim from critics, with the cast attracting near-universal praise. Blige earned considerable praise, including an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress and one for Best Original Song for the film’s theme, Mighty River.

Closer (2004)
Genre Drama, Romance
Stars Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman
Directed by Mike Nichols

The late Mike Nichols directed an all-star cast, including Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and Clive Owen, in his 2004 romantic drama Closer. The story follows two couples whose romantic lives become entangled, leading to infidelity and numerous realizations about love and relationships. Portman and Owen received Oscar nominations for their performances in this movie, based on the 1997 play of the same name. 

Rocky (1976)
70 %
Genre Drama, Romance
Stars Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young
Directed by John G. Avildsen

Sylvester Stallone wrote and starred in 1976’s Rocky, a sports drama now considered an American classic. The film follows Rocky Balboa, an Italian-American small-time club fighter who receives a once-in-a-lifetime chance to challenge the world heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed. Rocky received ten Oscar nominations and won three, including Best Picture at the 1977 Oscars. It spawned a massive franchise, including five sequels and the highly-successful Creed spin-off trilogy.

The Harder They Fall (2021)
The Harder They Fall
68 %
Genre Western
Stars Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Regina King
Directed by Jeymes Samuel

Jeymes Samuel makes his feature directorial debut with The Harder They Fall, starring Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, and Lakeith Stanfield. The plot centers on an outlaw who reunites his gang upon realizing his long-time enemy will soon get released from prison. The Harder They Fall is among the few Westerns with an all-Black cast, with characters loosely based on real-life figures from the American West.

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
If Beale Street Could Talk
87 %
Genre Romance, Drama
Stars KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King
Directed by Barry Jenkins

If Beale Streets Could Talk, Barry Jenkins’ follow-up to the Oscar-winning Moonlight, is an adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel of the same name. The film tells the story of Clementine “Tish” Rivers, a pregnant young woman on a mission to clear her lover’s name after he was wrongly accused of a crime. If Beale Street Could Talk earned three Oscar nominations at the 2019 Oscars, winning Best Supporting Actress for Regina King’s outstanding performance.  

Emily the Criminal (2022) new
Emily the Criminal
75 %
r 97m
Genre Crime, Drama, Thriller
Stars Aubrey Plaza, Theo Rossi, Megalyn Echikunwoke
Directed by John Patton Ford
Aubrey Plaza gives one of her finest turns to date in this crime drama full of clever and insightful social commentary. The plot centers on Emily Benetto, a young woman living in Los Angeles and drowning in student loan debt. Unable to secure a high-paying job due to a minor felony conviction, Emily becomes involved in a credit card fraud ring, leading to dangerous and potentially deadly consequences.
Da 5 Bloods (2020)
Da 5 Bloods
82 %
r 156m
Genre War, Drama
Stars Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters
Directed by Spike Lee

Spike Lee directs an ensemble cast including Delroy Lindo — robbed of an Oscar nomination — Jonathan Majors, and the late Chadwick Boseman in Da 5 Bloods. The plot follows a group of four aging Black Vietnam veterans who return to the country to retrieve the remains of their squad leader and the gold treasure they buried during their war days.

Hustle (2022)
68 %
r 118m
Genre Drama, Comedy
Stars Adam Sandler, Queen Latifah, Juancho Hernangómez
Directed by Jeremiah Zagar
The king of the underdogs, Adam Sandler, stars in Jeremiah Zagar’s drama Hustle. The veteran actor plays Stanley Sugerman, a down-on-his-luck basketball scout for the Philadelphia 76ers looking for an opportunity. When he discovers a promising but inexperienced young talent in Spain, Sugerman sets out to prove they are both worthy of making it to the NBA.
Roma (2018)
96 %
r 135m
Genre Drama
Stars Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Four-time Academy Award winner Alfonso Cuarón directs Roma, a semiautobiographical film based on his childhood in 1970s Mexico. The story follows Cleo, a Mixteco housekeeper living with an upper-middle-class family. Things get complicated when Antonio, the patriarch, leaves to be with his mistress while Cleo discovers she is pregnant, throwing the family’s fragile balance into disarray. Nominated for 10 Oscars at the 2019 ceremony, Roma became the first-ever Mexican film to win Best Foreign Language Film.
All Quiet on the Western Front (2022) new
All Quiet on the Western Front
77 %
r 147m
Genre Action, Drama, History, War
Stars Felix Kammerer, Albrecht Schuch, Aaron Hilmer
Directed by Edward Berger
The 1930 adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s classic World War I novel is considered an all-time great war movie, but modern special effects add another level of heightened reality in this Netflix original. Motivated by romantic dreams of heroism and glory, Paul Baumer (Felix Kammerer), and his friends Albert (Aaron Hilmer) and Muller (Moritz Klaus) answer the call to fight for Germany on the Western Front of World War I, but the initial euphoria of fighting for their country and a just cause quickly turns into a terrifying hellscape in the trenches.
Still Alice (2014) new
Still Alice
72 %
pg-13 101m
Genre Drama
Stars Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart
Directed by Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Julianne Moore won Best Actress for her portrayal of Alice Howland, a renowned linguistics professor who suddenly starts to forget words. Initially nonplussed, the issue spirals, and Alice receives an early onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis that devastates her husband, John (Alec Baldwin), and their three grown children, Lydia (Kristen Stewart), Anna (Kate Bosworth,) and Tom (Hunter Parrish). As she struggles to maintain her mind, Alice’s bond with her family is tested to its limit.
Phantom Thread (2017)
Phantom Thread
90 %
Genre Drama, Romance
Stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
If Daniel Day-Lewis is truly retired from acting, then he went out on a high note in Phantom Thread. In the film, Day-Lewis portrays Reynolds Woodcock, a fashion designer in the ‘50s whose dresses are highly sought after. After encountering a waitress named Alma Elson (Vicky Krieps), Reynolds courts her to become both his muse and his lover. However, Reynolds’ controlling ways alienate Alma, who wants to reassert control over her own life. And she will go to some surprising lengths to get it.
The Lost Daughter (2021)
The Lost Daughter
85 %
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.
The Power of the Dog (2021) new
The Power of the Dog
89 %
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?
Passing (2021)
85 %
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
55 %
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
76 %
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.

Pieces of a Woman (2020)
Pieces of a Woman
66 %
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.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020)
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
87 %
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)
79 %
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.
Concrete Cowboy (2020)
Concrete Cowboy
67 %
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.

Marriage Story (2019)
Marriage Story
94 %
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
75 %
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.
The Irishman (2019)
The Irishman
94 %
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:
David Caballero
Freelance Writer
David is a Mexican freelance writer with a deep appreciation for words. After three years in the cold world of Marketing…
The best movies on Disney+ right now (June 2023)
best action movies on netflix version 1573829875 raiders of the lost ark

Disney+ has some of the best movies to watch thanks to its recent legacy additions. With properties like Star Wars, Marvel, and National Geographic, it's no secret that Disney aims to pull in the broadest range of audiences. It's perhaps one of the most accessible platforms, and this regularly updated list will help you comb through the Disney+ catalog for the best movies to stream right now.

On top of its wide library of movies, consider taking a look at the Disney Bundle if you're not already a subscriber. It nets you Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu's ad-based subscription for just $13 a month. It's a respectable value for everything you're getting, including the Marvel Studios, Star Wars, and live sports coverage.

Read more
Best streaming devices for 2023: Apple TV, Roku, and more
An Apple TV 4K sits on a media stand.

There now are so many ways for you to get all the shows and movies you want on all your favorite streaming services, be it Netflix, Max, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+. For many, using whatever is built into to your TV is just fine. That could be one of the more popular streaming platforms, like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Google TV. But there are plenty of reasons to use an external streaming device, too.

The major players in the streaming device game — Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Google TV, Roku — are all fighting for your money, so we're here to make sure you throw it at the right streaming device for you and your budget, which typically ranges from as low as $30 to as high as $200.

Read more
The best shows on Disney+ right now (June 2023)
The cast of The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones.

Disney's streaming platform is a bit quiet until Secret Invasion premieres, but Disney+ still has some of the best TV shows to stream right now. New shows come to Disney+ every month, helping the platform highlight its variety and give viewers content that ranges from welcome legacy additions to smaller-scale original series. It's a solid library to sift through until the next high-profile premiere.

But on top of Disney+'s usual big-budget productions, there are also documentaries, animated shows, and more to watch. Even so, that depth in content can feel daunting to sort through, so we've taken the time to comb through the platform's catalog to give you a streamlined guide to the best shows to stream on Disney+ right now.

Read more