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.
Emily the Criminal2022
The Power of the Dog2021
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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