What are the best drama movies on Netflix? The 23 titles below feature the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Meryl Streep, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Aamir Khan, and Parvathy. And they come from directors such as Vikramaditya Motwane, Chaitanya Tamhane, Rima Das, Ivan Ayr, Neeraj Ghaywan, Hardik Mehta, Venkatesh Maha, Lenin Bharathi, Mati Diop, Destin Daniel Cretton, and Paul Thomas Anderson. A “⭐” marks an editors’ choice.
You might find more drama movies in our list of best movies. If you’re looking for more movies on Netflix, we’ve recommendations for some select other genres as well that you should check out. We also have similar articles for best drama movies on Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ Hotstar.
In a suburb of the Senegalese capital Dakar, construction site workers not paid for months decide to leave the country. That includes a young woman’s true love who goes missing at sea with others, but then returns under supernatural circumstances. Debutante director Mati Diop offers social commentary on class struggle and the refugee crisis. A Netflix original.
Set in the eponymous Andhra Pradesh town, this Telugu film spans four love stories across religion, caste, and age — from a schoolboy to a middle-aged unmarried man. A debut for writer-director Venkatesh Maha, featuring a cast mostly made up of non-professional actors.
This National Award-winning debut for writer-director Chaitanya Tamhane follows an abetment of suicide case slapped on a protest singer (Vira Sathidar) — and through it, examines the sociopolitical realities of modern-day India. Largely performed by non-professional actors.
After his wife (Nicole Kidman) admits that she fantasised about a man she met a year ago, a physician (Tom Cruise) discovers an underground secret sex group run for the rich, where he embarks on a night-long surreal adventure of masked orgies. Stanley Kubrick’s final film.
Based on Jon Krakauer’s nonfiction book, Sean Penn goes behind the camera to direct the story of a top student and athlete who gives up all possessions and savings to charity, and hitchhikes across America to live in the Alaskan wilderness.
Before he made Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton gave us this true story of a young Black Harvard Law alumnus (Michael B. Jordan) who appealed the murder conviction of a poor Black man (Jamie Foxx) sentenced to death.
National Award-winning director Hardik Mehta concocts a tribute to Bollywood’s character actors with this tale of a washed-up actor (Sanjay Mishra) who comes out of retirement after realising that he’s one film away from the magic number of 500, hoping to end on a memorable high.
Meryl Streep plays a housewife who walks out on her workaholic husband (Dustin Hoffman) and their six-year-old son to “find herself”, and returns with a full-time job and the desire to retain full custody of the child. Praised for its exploration of social issues and how it doesn’t take the side of either parent.
Set in the ever-increasingly-gentrified San Francisco, a young Black man (Jimmie Fails) and his best friend (Jonathan Majors) set out to reclaim the now-expensive Victorian house built by the former’s grandfather, putting them on a journey for belonging in a city that seems to be leaving them behind.
Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s overlong mosaic of eclectic characters — Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Julianne Moore among others — finds them weaving through each other’s lives and looking for love, meaning, and forgiveness on a random day in California’s San Fernando Valley.
Neeraj Ghaywan ventures into the heartland of India to explore the life of four people in his directorial debut, all of whom must battle issues of caste, culture and norms. Winner of a National Award and the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes.
Set along the mountainous border that divides the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala — the location is a character in its own right — a labourer desires of owing his own patch of land but struggles with the political powers that-be. A debut effort for director Lenin Bharathi that’s better off when it’s not chasing a narrative.
Based on the true story of Oakland Athletics and manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), it follows the latter’s attempts to build a competitive team by relying solely on statistical analysis, with help from a Yale graduate (Jonah Hill).
A shy, introverted man and a woman who work at a Hungarian slaughterhouse discover they share the same dreams after an incident, and then try to make them come true.
Aamir Khan leads the ensemble cast of this award-winning film that focuses on four young New Delhi men who turn into revolutionary heroes themselves while playacting as five Indian freedom fighters from the 1920s for a docudrama.
Though frequently melodramatic, this coming-of-age story — produced by Aamir Khan and wife Kiran Rao — of a Muslim girl from Vadodara who dreams of being a singer dealt with important social issues and broke several box office records during its theatrical run.
A short-tempered young policewoman and her cool-headed female boss must contend with ingrained misogyny in their daily lives and even at work, where it impacts their coordinated attempts to tackle the rise of crimes against women in Delhi. A Netflix original.
An inter-linked anthology of four stories, involving an unfaithful wife, a transgender woman, a bunch of teenagers, which deal in sex, stigma, and spirituality. Runs at nearly three hours.
Shah Rukh Khan stars as a successful NASA scientist in this based on a true story drama, who returns home to India to take his nanny to the US, rediscovers his roots and connects with the local village community in the process.
Inspired by real life, the tale of friendship that formed between Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce), the future Pope Francis, after the latter approached the former regarding his concerns with the direction of the Catholic Church. A Netflix original.
Vikramaditya Motwane made his directorial debut with this coming-of-age story of a teenager who is expelled from boarding school and returns home to the industrial town of Jamshedpur, where he must work at his oppressive father’s factory.
Before Chhapaak, this Parvathy-starrer Malayalam-language social drama delivered a more nuanced and deeper exploration of the seed of acid attacks and how they aim to push women to the fringes of society, through the tale of an aspiring pilot fighting for her dreams — and justice.
A young Assamese girl of a widow pines to own a guitar and start her own rock band, but societal norms routinely get in the way. Rima Das writes, directs, shoots, edits, and handles costumes.