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Best drama movies from the last decade

  • Best drama movies from the last decade

    While the core tenants of drama remain fundamental to the movie-going experience, the genre itself has arguably suffered in recent years. That’s not to say one can’t find adult drama at the local cineplex, rather that it’s frequently overshadowed and overpowered by a gamut of franchise fare. So it’s no surprise that the genre has largely migrated to television, where it is in overabundant supply. Along similarly predictable lines, a number of the decade’s best adult dramas hail from overseas.

    Returning to U.S. theaters, one might argue that drama is now as much a component or supplement as it is a straightforward genre unto itself. For example, recent blockbusters like “Joker,” “Interstellar,” and even “Avengers: Endgame” employ several dramatic tropes. That’s not to mention works from auteurs such as Quentin Tarantino or Wes Anderson, which incorporate dramatic conflicts into otherwise violent or comedic situations. And while films such as “Whiplash” or “Moonlight” certainly qualify as straightforward drama, they’ve largely become the exception and not the rule in terms of what dominates the cultural mainstream.

    Internationally, it’s a different story altogether. Arguably less tethered to risk aversion or the demands of a global marketplace, countries like Iran, Turkey, France, Italy, South Korea, Japan, and numerous others continue to churn out attention-grabbing, dramatic fare. As such, the following list of highest-ranking dramas is downright global in scope and incredibly diverse. This might be the most diversified list (from a production and distribution perspective) of genre films that Stacker has ever compiled.

    So which titles made the cut? To find out, Stacker compiled IMDb data on all dramas from the 2010s and ranked them according to their user ratings (out of 10), relying on IMDb user votes to break any rating ties. To qualify, the film had to be listed as "drama” on two or more of the major databases (IMDb, Metacritic, Wikipedia, Letterboxd, Rotten Tomatoes, etc.), released in the United States theatrically or on streaming services between Jan. 1, 2010 and today, have at least four critic reviews, and have at least 10,000 votes on IMDb. TV movies and Bollywood productions were not considered.

    At Stacker, we recognize that genre is meant to help describe and communicate the tone and style of a film, not to serve as a limiting factor on what films can and cannot be. There are no hard and fast lines that define dramas, and we think leaning into more open interpretations of what fits into certain genres is best practice for getting a pool of films that represent all possible expressions of a particular genre. Every film on the list has been considered according to the cinematic history and development of dramas. With that in mind, here are the best dramas from the past decade.

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  • #100. Gravity (2013)

    - Director: Alfonso Cuarón
    - IMDb user rating: 7.7
    - Votes: 724,560
    - Metascore: 96
    - Runtime: 91 min

    When their shuttle is destroyed, a stranded medical engineer (Sandra Bullock) and astronaut (George Clooney) struggle to survive in space. Director Alfonso Cuarón employed a range of innovative effects when bringing this 3D story to life. The film earned more than $700 million at the worldwide box office and landed Cuarón an Academy Award for Best Director.

  • #99. A Taxi Driver (2017)

    - Director: Jang Hun
    - IMDb user rating: 7.8
    - Votes: 10,467
    - Metascore: 69
    - Runtime: 137 min

    This gripping South Korean drama takes place during the Gwangju Uprising in 1980. Upon accepting a healthy sum in fare, a cab driver agrees to take a German reporter from Seoul to Gwangju and back again. Soon enough, the driver finds himself in the midst of radical anti-government protests.

  • #98. The Turin Horse (2011)

    - Directors: Béla Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky
    - IMDb user rating: 7.8
    - Votes: 13,932
    - Metascore: 80
    - Runtime: 155 min

    Presented in black and white, this acclaimed drama opens with a brief story about German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and his mental breakdown. That leads to a direct pathway to the tale of two rural Italian farmers and their loyal horse, all of whom endure various forms of agony and despair. According to director Béla Tarr, the film is about the “heaviness of human existence.”

  • #97. My Life as a Zucchini (2016)

    - Director: Claude Barras
    - IMDb user rating: 7.8
    - Votes: 18,036
    - Metascore: 85
    - Runtime: 70 min

    Nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2017 Academy Awards, this Swiss-French stop-motion comedy-drama centers on a young boy nicknamed Courgette. Upon losing his mother in a horrible accident, Courgette ends up in a foster home. What starts as a struggle to adapt becomes an endearing story of love and companionship.

  • #96. Like Father, Like Son (2013)

    - Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
    - IMDb user rating: 7.8
    - Votes: 18,901
    - Metascore: 73
    - Runtime: 121 min

    A workaholic businessman discovers that the son he’s been raising was switched at birth. Now, he must choose between his biological son and the one he raised. Director Hirokazu Koreeda won the Jury Prize at Cannes, where the film also was nominated for the prestigious Palme d'Or.

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  • #95. Land of Mine (2015)

    - Director: Martin Zandvliet
    - IMDb user rating: 7.8
    - Votes: 29,655
    - Metascore: 75
    - Runtime: 100 min

    In the aftermath of World War II, a group of German POWs is tasked with clearing thousands of land mines from Denmark’s beaches. Watching over them is a Danish sergeant, who struggles to retain his tough demeanor as the drama unfolds. This film is based on true events.

  • #94. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011)

    - Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
    - IMDb user rating: 7.8
    - Votes: 35,837
    - Metascore: 82
    - Runtime: 157 min

    Striking a deft balance between police procedural and arthouse film, this award-winning Turkish drama grapples with the meaning of truth itself. Joined by two murder suspects, investigators search for a buried body on the outskirts of Keskin. Along the way, the line between corruption and justice begins to blur.

  • #93. The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012)

    - Director: Felix van Groeningen
    - IMDb user rating: 7.8
    - Votes: 37,059
    - Metascore: 70
    - Runtime: 111 min

    It’s love at first sight between two Belgians named Didier and Elise, whose chemistry is maintained by a mutual passion for bluegrass music. When the couple experiences an unexpected tragedy, it puts their romance to the test. All the live music is performed by the actors themselves, shedding light on a robust Dutch and Belgian bluegrass scene.

  • #92. The Past (2013)

    - Director: Asghar Farhadi
    - IMDb user rating: 7.8
    - Votes: 41,902
    - Metascore: 85
    - Runtime: 130 min

    From the acclaimed director of “A Separation” comes this powerful drama, which similarly tackles domestic themes. After spending four years in Iran, a man returns to France to finalize his divorce. When he discovers that his ex-wife is now with another man, that revelation paves the way for a series of unexpected revelations.

  • #91. The Salesman (2016)

    - Director: Asghar Farhadi
    - IMDb user rating: 7.8
    - Votes: 43,544
    - Metascore: 85
    - Runtime: 124 min

    Asghar Farhadi has no less than three films on the list, including this one from 2016. While participating in a production of “Death of a Salesman,” a teacher and his wife must deal with a traumatic event at home. Layered within the premise is an examination of class divides and the nature of empathy.

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