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The Best Drama Movies Available on Netflix Instant Stream

Updated on March 15, 2015

Netflix is home to a massive library of movies that can be streamed instantly online at the click of a button. Pretty convenient, and not too bad for $8 a month! While there are hundreds of movies available, not all of them are great films. Therefore, sometimes you have to comb through to find the really great movies and I like to save them to my instant queue as I find them, so they are easy to find later on when you're ready to watch.

I've already included a list of the best Thrillers available on Netflix here. Below is a list of ten of the best films on Netflix that fall into the drama category. Hopefully you get a chance to check them out. Please comment and let me know which you liked or disliked!

The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)

One of the most insane Oscar nominees of 2013 is this based on a true story movie about crooked stockbroker Jordan Belfort, who rose from penny stocks to being a millionaire of the highest order. Of course, his insane lifestyle, drug habits and crooked ways are bound to catch up to him, and the film chronicles his rise and fall while focusing largely on the most inappropriate and insane details. Leonardo DiCaprio missed another close call at Best Actor for playing Belfort, but the film also includes a hilarious and great performance from Jonah Hill as his sidekick, and a breakout performance from Margot Robbie as his wife. It's certainly not family friendly, so keep the children in bed for this one, but it's as entertaining as they come.

Silver Linings Playbook (2013)

Another Oscar nominee, director David O'Russel's Silver Linings Playbook is a comedy drama starring Bradley Cooper as a man with some psychological issues who is fresh out of an institution, recovering from his issues, who befriends an equally troubled woman on his path to redemption. Jennifer Lawrence won an Oscar for playing that woman, in an incredible performance, which was one of many in a cast that also included Robert De Niro, Chris Tucker and Jacki Weaver. A charming, hilarious and inspiring film about moving on from the past and finding support in recovery, this is a must see on Netflix instant stream.

Savant skills come in handy at the casino.
Savant skills come in handy at the casino.

Rain Man (1988)

Another Academy Award winner, Rain Man took home 4 Oscars, including best Picture, Director and Actor (Dustin Hoffman). The film revolves around Charlie Babbitt, played by Tom Cruise, who finds out that his father has passed away and left his fortune to a brother he didn't even know he had. This brother turns out to be Autistic, and a genius, so Charlie decides to take him on a trip across country and show him some of the finer things in life in an attempt to get his hands on the fortune left behind by his late father. Dustin Hoffman is absolutely amazing as Raymond, and puts on a convincing and heart warming show. As the film goes on Charlie begins to be the one who is being led, and discovers new meaning as he attempts to navigate their travels with the challenges Raymond presents. One of the finest acting performances in recent times, Rain Man is a fantastic film that everyone should watch.

Crash won the Oscar for Best Picture.
Crash won the Oscar for Best Picture.

Crash (2005)

When you really look at it, Crash is a massive achievement and is an epic film in many ways. Weaving numerous stories into one city, the film shows the effects of racism, bigotry, love, bravery and family on numerous people and how the actions of one can affect many. It won 3 Academy Awards, including the award for Best Picture, and has recently been made available for Instant Streaming on Netflix. The film has a great cast, including a number of well known actors and actresses, whose characters weave in and out of each other's lives in various ways. What makes the film so fantastic is that is challenges your beliefs and morals, and asks you what you would do in certain situations, and whether your answer is REALLY what you would do, or what you hope you would do. The film surprises us often, and characters don't always end up being what we think they are or are not. One of the most powerful films you'll see on Netflix, Crash is a must watch.

Stand By Me (1986)

This classic coming of age tale is one of the most famous of it's kind, and tells the story of four boys and best friends who journey out to find a dead body that they've heard rumors about. The four of them, including one played by the late River Phoenix, are going through their own challenges and feeling pressure from the outside world, and their journey serves as a vehicle for revealing this to the audience. The film is simple, poignant and easy to relate to, and will surely resonate with almost all that watch it. It's often funny and often very sad, but one of the best coming of age films you'll ever see. Also, look out for a very young Kiefer Sutherland, who plays a horrible bully that crosses paths with the boys.

Williams and Damon are great.
Williams and Damon are great.

Good Will Hunting (1997)

One of Matt Damon's best young roles, he and Ben Affleck won the Oscar for best writing in this story about a psychologist who finds out that the janitor is actually a Math genius, and decides to help him harness his skills. Robin Williams is fantastic and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as psychologist Sean Maguire and Damon isn't half bad either as the troubled but gifted young man who is dealing with a lot of demons. The film touches on a range of emotions, and manages to be charming, sad, funny and uplifting all at once. One of Robin Williams very best performances and true proof that he was more than just a comedy actor, definitely give this one a watch.

The Master (2012)

This film will likely divide many viewers due to its slow pace and unclear plot, but for those that love a cerebral and incredibly acted drama that leaves a little up to interpretation and analysis, The Master will surely deliver. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master stars Joaquin Phoenix as a troubled former navy man who is lost in life, but who comes across what some would call a 'cult' led by an incredibly charismatic leader, played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman and his mysterious wife, played with brute force by Amy Adams. The movies main point is difficult to tie down sometimes, but it gives us plenty to wonder, touching on the desire for a leader and the need of many to find answers and something to cling to. In my opinion, one of the best films of 2012.

Bardem is powerful in Biutiful.
Bardem is powerful in Biutiful.

Biutiful (2010)

Narrowly losing out on a Foreign Language Oscar, this dark and gritty film revolves around a man who is diagnosed with terminal cancer that wants to provide for his two children as a single father, and ensure they are provided for after he is gone, all while trying to avoid Barcelona's criminal underworld that he has been a part of. A truly unflinching film, that pulls no punches, Biutiful is often tough to watch, but it's ability to punch you in the guy is one of it's greatest traits. Bardem was nominated for Best Actor, as rightfully so, as he is powerful and vulnerable at the same time, as we watch his slow demise alter and change his life. While I haven't seen "In A Better World", which took home the foreign film Oscar, I find it hard to believe that there was a better film than this in the category.

The English Patient (1996)

Another Oscar winner makes the list, as director Anthony Minghella's 'The English Patient' tells the story of an impossible romance during the horrors of World War 2. The film stars Ralph Fiennes as a horrible burned and disfigured man in a military hospital, being tended to by a young nurse (Juliette Binoche). As she converses with the man she begins to learn more of his story, including who he is, and how he came to be there. She also hears his story of a doomed romance between himself and the wife of his once friend. The love interest is played wonderfully by the incredible Kristin Scott Thomas and her husband equally well by Colin Firth. The English Patient is fairly short on joy, but is an incredible (and incredibly long!) story with great performances and a great adventurous plot. This is highlighted by it's 9 Academy Awards.

Sophie's Choice (1982)

Meryl Streep is widely regarded as the world's greatest living actress, and perhaps her finest work is Sophie's Choice, this heartbreaking film about a woman and Polish refugee, who has been through remarkable and horrible ordeals during a stint in a prisoner of war camp. The film is remarkably acted by Streep and her fellow cast members Kevin Kline and Peter MacNichol, and the story unfolds slowly and methodically, leading us towards the awful truth that the characters have been forced to live with. An older film, and a must see for fans of Streep in particular.

Well, there is a list of ten of my favorite drama films that you will find on Netflix for Instant Streaming. Be sure to check them all out and let me know which were your favorite. If you don't have Netflix, I would strongly suggest you consider signing up!


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    • jmartin1344 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Royal Oak, Michigan

      Thanks for the heads up! I'll fix.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Rain Man is also no longer on Instant Streaming!! Only DVD.

    • jmartin1344 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Royal Oak, Michigan

      Thanks Bernie, I appreciate it! I might actually update this list as Netflix has changed some since I wrote it and there are a few more now!

    • BernietheMovieGuy profile image

      Bernie Ment 

      5 years ago from Syracuse, NY

      A nice list to be sure. I have seen most of these and while I may not agree with all of your choices, some, like Winter's Bone and Apocalypse Now, are certainly well worthy of at least one, if not repeated, viewings. Thanks for the list. Voted up!


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