Every movie has some features of drama and the drama category can have other genres included. However, the main elements of drama movies are strong emotions and human relationships. TechTrends decided to put together a list of the best drama movies of all time for the enthusiasts and those who have recently taken an interest in this genre.
Drama is defined as a genre that focuses mostly on the in-depth development of realistic characters who are coping with emotional situations. Drama movies can also span a variety of other genres, like horror, thriller and comedy. For some of them, you may need to have a tissue in hand after the waterworks flowing or dive deeply into serious and though-provoking matters. This genre pushes viewers to struggle with moral issues and the hard decisions that separate right from wrong. Although there are a lot of great drama movies out there, TechTrends has picked the very bests. Not only will they leave you analyzing what you just watched, but they will also urge you to go through your belief system. Here is our list of the best drama movies of all time.
Best Drama Movies of All Time
Drama movie fans know that this genre can inspire empathy as well as critical thinking. The best drama movies of all time listed here have high ranks of IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes. Furthermore, they are based on their cinematic history and the development of drama. Although it still includes classic dramas like “The Godfather” and “Citizen Kane”, it also has more recent masterpieces like “Moonlight” and “Lady Bird”. Let’s get started without further ado.
- Director: Michael Curtiz
- Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 99%, IMDb 8.5
This tale of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid lights up the screen in this classic drama. When you look beyond the iconic elements that may seem cliché, you can see the romance that is unexpected, star-crossed and stirring. The story happens during World War II and the Nazi threat, with the main character fighting through his feelings for Bergman. Casablanca is still among the most rarefied and best drama movies of all time.
The Godfather 1972
- Director: Francis Ford Coppola
- Stars: Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 97%, IMDb 9.2
The Godfather is one of the best drama movies of all time and Ground Zero for all the subsequent mafia movies. The indelible characters portrayed by an impressive cast made this movie epic. Moreover, the director worked Mario Puzo’s Mafia novel like a virtuoso, with the ultimate pick inside a Mafia family’s life and the weaknesses it brings along.
Citizen Kane 1941
- Director: Orson Welles
- Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Dorothy Comingore
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 99%, IMDb 8.3
The next one among the best drama movies ever is Citizen Kane, with the stars and director’s high level of mastery. The film shows Charles Foster Kane’s rise and fall. He was a newspaper publishing tycoon and the story of his life shows a real-life magnate, William Randolph Hearst. This movie had definitely paved a new way for moviemaking when that art was in its infancy.
The Shawshank Redemption 1994
- Director: Frank Darabont
- Stars: Morgan Freeman, Tim Robbins
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 91%, IMDb 9.3
One of the greatest drama movies of all time is the Shawshank Redemption, which took many people by surprise. Notwithstanding it being based on a Stephen King story, it is not horror. Moreover, the movie does not show a dank depressive life in prison, but it shows a lot of hope and redemption. The two actors portraying the main characters did a remarkable job, showing off their finest hours. In addition, the ending will have you both drained and rejuvenated, which is what a great dramatic film will do. However, the movie has only made $28 million.
Good Will Hunting 1997
- Director: Gus Van Sant
- Stars: Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Stellan Skarsgard, Minnie Driver
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 98%, IMDb 8.3
One of the best drama movies you need to watch is Good Will Hunting. The theme of the movie revolves around child abuse consequences that resulted in Will Hunting growing up to be arrogant, stubborn and angry. The main character’s strong defence mechanism can be seen throughout the movie. Despite his brilliance and many chances to thrive, he is filled with fears of failure and loss, unwilling to come out of his shell.
- Director: James Cameron
- Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 87%, IMDb 7.9
James Cameron created an unforgettable epic romantic drama movie which is now considered as one of the best drama movies of all time. Titanic is crafted flawlessly, constructed intelligently, and acted strongly. As for the plot of the movie, it involves a woman named Rose, who is on the verge of sailing to her doom as she got engaged with a rich man by force. Filled with hatred for this prospect, she even tries to take her life. However, she is saved by Jack, with whom she falls in love. Ultimately, we all know what the outcome of Titanic is. The director, however, takes us beyond that and puts us in the skin of the ones who perished and the ones who survived. He also reminds us that no matter who we are, we are all in the same boat.
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- Director: Barry Jenkins
- Stars: Trevante Rhodes, Mahershala Ali, Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Naomie Harris
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 98%, IMDb 7.4
Moonlight follows the tale of a young black man who is trying to discover himself as he comes of age. The three actors that portray Chiron show off sensational performances as he takes a true emotional journey. As one of the best drama movies of all time, it reminds us what the art form is able to do, rolling out his life with style and grace.
- Director: Spike Lee
- Stars: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Topher Grace, Laura Harrier
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 96%, IMDb 7.5
This is based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. And director Spike Lee depicted the struggle years of black people masterfully. He captured racist America in an incredible way while also adding a comedic twist. Ron Stalworth is keen on making a name for himself. Therefore, he embarks upon a dangerous mission. This has become one of the greatest drama movies of all time that you need to watch.
Lady Bird 2017
- Director: Greta Gerwig
- Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet, Laure Metcalf
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 99%, IMDb 7.4
This heartfelt story depicts the bittersweet transition from adolescence to adulthood. Lady Bird is among the best drama movies of all time and it keeps a perfect balance between drama and comedy. This soon-to-be high school graduate is longing for a life far from her home. The director tried to shed light on her character, being rebellious and raucous, by making her relatable. Moreover, the film is greatly carried by the dynamic between a mother/daughter duo. It is sometimes tense and sometimes hilarious.
Call Me by Your Name 2017
- Director: Luca Guadagnino
- Stars: Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 94%, IMDb 7.9
One of the best drama movies you need to watch is Call Me by Your Name, which is about first love and an adaptation of Andre Aciman’s bestselling novel. Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer perform remarkably as there is amazing chemistry between them. The two characters meet each other and begin to discover their sexual orientation which will alter their lives forever.
A Star Is Born 2018
- Director: Bradley Cooper
- Stars: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 90%, IMDb 7.6
A Star Is Born is yet another one of the best drama movies of all time. This incredible movie looks at important issues like substance abuse, suicide and what fame does to a person in some cases. Musician Jackson Maine discovers Ally, who is a struggling artist and has given up on her dreams, and then he falls in love with her. However, with Ally’s career thriving, their relationship begins to break down since Jackson is dealing with his own internal demons. A key theme of the movie is how addiction can ruin the lives of the victims as well as their loved ones.
- Director: Bong Joon-ho
- Stars: Song Kang-Ho, Sun-Kyun Lee, Yeo-ieong Cho
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 98%, IMDb 8.5
The movie Parasite gives us a sense of a black comedy about differences in class and that is what it actually is. However, it also brings in surreal darkness and pushes us to guess until the very end. Making it to the list of the best drama movies of all time, this movie pulls zero punches and every one of them lands hard. This thought-provoking, unforgettable movie has an exceptionally well-written script, and in some moments, it urges the audience to think/feel deeply.
The Irishman 2019
- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Stars: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Joe Pesci
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 95%, IMDb 7.8
Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci, who carry lifetimes of experience, perform with practiced ease, making this one of the best drama movies of all time. The story takes place in the 1950 when Frank Sheeran, a truck driver, gets involved with Russel Bufalino and his crime family. With Sheeran climbing the ranks and becoming a hitman, he then starts working for Jimmy Hoffa, who is a Teamster tied to organized crime.
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Little Women 2019
- Director: Greta Gerwig
- Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 95%, IMDb 7.8
Director Greta Gerwig made an adaptation of the Little Women novel written by Louisa May Alcott. The story takes place in Civil War era Massachusetts and is mainly about the March sisters. With the father at war, the sisters are with their mother, who was an outspoken woman of her time. The story shows how Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth grow up, find love and discover who they are in the world. The theme of the movie revolves around unconditional love, sacrifice and how important it is to stick up for what you believe.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire 2019
- Director: Céline Sciamma
- Stars: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami, Valeria Golino, Christel Baras
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 98%, IMDb 8.1
Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a marvelous movie that helps you dive deep into the colors of 18 century France. The director does an extremely confident work of unfolding Marianne and Héloïse, who will get together by destiny. The Countess hires a painter to create a portrait of her daughter, Héloïse, to be given to a nobleman to marry her. However, she is reluctant to get married and does not want to work with any painter. Therefore, Marianne comes as a companion and hides the truth that she is there to paint her portrait. The two become friends and Marianne learns all about her.
King Richard 2021
- Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green
- Stars: Will Smith, Jon Bernthal, Aunjanue Ellis
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 90%, IMDb 7.5
King Richard, one of the best drama movies ever, is a hard-hitting tale of a father who is keen on helping his girls reach their maximum potential and gain confidence in their abilities. On the tennis courts in Compton, Calif., Richard helps his girls build commitment and intuition. Regarding the humane aspect of their family, the movie shows how they fought their way through poverty in a neighborhood that is crime-infested.
Good movies are the ones that bring art to life and push people beyond their limits of imagination. Although they may need a little effort to watch, they are capable of changing people’s lives. Dramas are able to encapsulate many of the film’s greatest aspects. Some may make us cry, while others make us laugh. When you watch a good drama, be certain that you will walk away having gained a little more enlightenment. Make sure to watch all the movies on the list.