The 15 best drama movies on Netflix (January 2022)

The Town and Power of the Dog
The Town and Power of the Dog. Pic credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/Netflix

Netflix is home to some of the best drama movies for anyone looking for some thought-provoking cinema.

With its own original films and movies that it has licensed over the years, there is something here for everyone.

While browsing the movies available, there are hit dramas from names like David Fincher, Ron Howard, P.T. Anderson, and many more, with several award-winning films to choose from.

There are war dramas, political dramas, romantic dramas, and crime dramas, so no matter what you are looking for, it is almost assured that Netflix has what you want.

Updated in January 2022: Every month, Netflix deletes movies from its streaming service when contracts expire.

The good news is that Netflix also had plenty of great drama movies to replace them. Here is our updated list of the best drama movies available on Netflix.

The Town

Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner in The Town
Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner in The Town. Pic credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Ben Affleck directed the Boston crime drama The Town in 2010, his follow up to Gone Baby Gone.

The movie stars Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, and Rebecca Hall in a movie about a group of Boston bank robbers who want to pull off one final score – robbing Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox.

The Town, based on true-life events, received high critical praise and was a box office success as well. The movie went on to earn Renner an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Rotten Tomatoes give The Town a fresh 92% rating, with critics calling the movie “tense, smartly written, and wonderfully cast”

True Grit

Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit
Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit. Pic credit: Paramount Pictures

In a movie no one could have expected a decade before its release, the Coen Brothers directed a western remake of an old John Wayne movie in True Grit.

The Coen Brothers cast Jeff Bridges as a lawman who agrees to accept money from a 14-year-old girl to go after an outlaw who killed her father. Hailee Steinfeld (Hawkeye) stars as the girl.

Also appearing in the movie is Matt Damon as a Texas Ranger who stands in their way, while Josh Brolin stars as Tom Chaney, the man who murdered the girl’s dad.

True Grit picked up 10 Oscar nominations, including for Best Actor and Best Director, but it didn’t win any awards.

Wyatt Earp (1994)

Kevin Costner in Wyatt Earp
Kevin Costner in Wyatt Earp. Pic credit: Warner Bros.

Wyatt Earp had one major problem when it was released in 1994. It came out six months after Tombstone, which was about mostly the same story.

The big difference was that Tombstone was a fun, action-paced movie with great acting and a zippy plot. Wyatt Earp was slower and almost more of a drama, a biography of Earp himself.

Kevin Costner starred as the lawman in Wyatt Earp and he had a great supporting cast with names like Gene Hackman, Dennis Quaid, and Bill Pullman in the movie.

The Power of the Dog (2021)

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog. Pic credit: Netflix

A Netflix original movie hit in 2021 that has a chance to win a lot of awards when the Oscars comes around. This movie is a western drama called The Power of the Dog.

Directed by Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog tells the story of two brothers who meet a young woman who is raising her son alone. The brothers are Benedict Cumberbatch’s older, cruel Phil and Jesse Plemons younger, kind-hearted George.

While Phil tries to break down Rose (Kirsten Dunst), George really cares about her. This all leads to Rose’s son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) coming into the picture to do what he can to save his mother.

The Hand of God (2021)

The Hand of God
The Hand of God. Pic credit: Netflix

Released in 2021 as a Netflix original movie, The Hand of God is an Italian drama movie that won the Grand Jury Prize in competition at the Venice International Film Festival.

The movie tells the story of a young man named Fabietto, who lives with his parents in Naples. He doesn’t have friends and wants to go to college to study philosophy, but spends most of his time watching soccer.

When tragedy strikes his family, Fabietto comes of age in a brutal manner. The name of the movie comes from the nickname of soccer player Diego Maradona.

Stand by Me (1986)

Stand by Me
Stand by Me. Pic credit: Columbia Pictures

One of the greatest Stephen King movies ever made wasn’t even a horror movie. While everyone knows about The Shawshank Redemption, more people need to seek out and rediscover Stand by Me.

Directed by Rob Reiner (Misery), Stand By Me tells the story of a group of young boys who set out on a great adventure when they learn there might be a dead body in the woods.

The cast was fantastic, with Corey Feldman, River Phoenix, Jerry O’Connell, and Wil Wheaton as the young boys and Keifer Sutherland as the dangerous older teen that threatened their lives.

This is one of the best coming-of-age movies of the 1980s and might be the most understated Stephen King adaptation of all time.

Taxi Driver (1976)

Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver
Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. Pic credit: Columbia Pictures

Martin Scorsese is one of the most respected voices of ’70s cinema and directed some of the best crime drama movies you will see on Netflix

One of these movies was the brilliant Taxi Driver in 1978, a film that picked up four Oscar nominations but was passed up for all four, including Best Director (Scorsese), Best Actor (Robert De Niro), and Best Supporting Actress (Jodie Foster).

The movie has De Niro starring as a Vietnam vet who takes an interest in a political intern (Sharon Stone) and a teenage prostitute (Foster) and is determined to protect them both at all costs.

A River Runs Through It (1992)

A River Runs Through It
A River Runs Through It. Pic credit: Columbia

Directed by Robert Redford, A River Runs Through It is a 1992 drama movie based on the novel by the same name.

The movie stars Brad Pitt and Craig Sheffer as the sons of a Presbyterian minister, played by Tom Skerritt.

They grew up, one rebellious and one studious, and the movie shows their lives from World War I through the Great Depression.

A River Runs Through It won an Oscar for Best Cinematography and this is the movie that showed a young Brad Pitt’s promise in Hollywood.

Moneyball (2011)

Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in Moneyball. Pic credit: Columbia Pictures

Brad Pitt starred as Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, the man who brought the idea of sabermetrics into Major League Baseball.

This is a true story that showed how a man who managed a team with a limited budget could build a contender by relying on computer stats over what the scouts see with their eyes.

The movie was a huge success for a sports movie, making $110 million worldwide and picking up six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Pitt, and Best Supporting Actor for Jonah Hill.

Lady Bird (2017)

The best sad movies on Netflix (June 2020)
Saoirse Ronan and Tracy Letts in Lady Bird. Pic credit: A24

In much the same way that director Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story) mastered realistic dialogue and making everyday situations seem extraordinary, Greta Gerwig has done the same for female-centric movies.

In Lady Bird, Gerwig found two great actresses to tell the story of a mother and daughter who just can’t seem to connect. Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf both picked up Oscar nominations for their roles.

This sad movie, currently available to stream on Netflix, also picked up nominations for Best Picture, and Gerwig became only the fifth female film director in history to pick up a Best Director nomination.

Mystic River (2003)

Mystic River
Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon in Mystic River. Pic credit: Warner Bros.

Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon star as Jimmy and Sean, childhood friends who grew up to become an ex-convict and a police detective, respectively.

A third childhood friend, Dave, was kidnapped and sexually abused for days as a child and grew up with some serious problems as a result.

When Jimmy’s daughter is murdered, he believes Dave is guilty and sets out for vengeance while Sean is investigating the case, believing that Dave might not be guilty after all.

A Monster Calls (2016)

A Monster Calls
A Monster Calls. Pic credit: Lionsgate

A Monster Calls is a drama movie that tugs the heart as it focuses on a young boy whose mother is terminally ill.

He is only 13 and doesn’t know how to deal with this, but he takes care of his mother every day. However, when he is sent to live with his grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) and is no longer able to care for her, he starts to see a monster coming to visit.

This monster, voiced by Lian Neesom, tells the boy three stories and then asks that he tell him one as well. Through it all, the boy is drowning in terror and has no idea how to make it through without his mom.

Mank (2020)

Gary Oldman in Mank. Pic credit: Netflix

David Fincher is back with his new movie, and it is a Netflix original.

In Mank, Fincher creates a black and white movie that tells the story of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his life as he works on the script for Orson Welle’s Citizen Kane.

Since Citizen Kane was an unflattering look at real-life media mogul William Randolph Hearst, this was a job that almost ruined Mank’s life.

In December on Netflix, the movie premiered and was one of the top new releases of the month for the streaming giant.

The Irishman (2019)

A shot from The Irishman
Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro were just two of many big names to star in The Irishman. Pic credit: Netflix

Martin Scorsese found it hard to get his latest mafia movie made, so he turned to Netflix. The streaming giant gave him the chance to make his movie and what resulted was The Irishman.

The very long drama movie (over three hours) starred many Scorsese favorites, including Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Bobby Cannavale, and Harvey Keitel.

The film is a loose retelling of the story of a truck driver-turned-hitman named Frank Sheeran (De Niro) who worked for a crime family and Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino).

The Netflix original movie picked up 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Director.

There Will Be Blood (2007)

Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will be Blood. Pic credit: Miramax

Paul Thomas Anderson has created some of the most breathtaking indie-style films of the last three decades, and There Will Be Blood might be his best.

Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Daniel Plainview, an oilman in this loose adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s Oil! Plainview is striking oil at the expense of towns that he leaves dead in his wake in the film.

He meets a young evangelist named Eli (Paul Dano), who tries to stand in his way. What results is a battle of wills where one man must fall.

The film, which can be compared to classic horror movies like Dracula, picked up eight Oscar nominations with Day-Lewis winning Best Actor.

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