Best American Drama Movies

This page is updated regularly. Subscribe, so you don't miss new recommendations. The list of "Best American Drama Movies" contains films with the following parameters. Style: interesting, inspirational, weird, realistic, intense and cult film. Plot: storytelling, friendship, mentor, dialogue, honest, redemption, powerful ending, violence, death and loneliness. Genre: Drama, Crime and Comedy. Country: USA, New Zealand and India.
Best American Drama Movies
Best American Drama Movies
TOP Movies: The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Nomadland (2020), Boyhood (2014), Whiplash (2014), Rain Man (1988), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Django Unchained (2012), Precious (2009), Requiem for a Dream (2000), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), Million Dollar Baby (2004), The Passion of the Christ (2004), The Godfather (1972), The Godfather Part II (1974), The Help (2011), Little Miss Sunshine (2006), Avengers: Endgame (2019), Braveheart (1995), American Beauty (1999), Moonlight (2016).

List of Best Movies

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Genre: Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 142 min.
Story: Framed in the 1940s for the double murder of his wife and her lover, upstanding banker Andy Dufresne begins a new life at the Shawshank prison, where he puts his accounting skills to work for an amoral warden. During his long stretch in prison, ...
Style: inspirational, touching, philosophical, twist ending, uplifting ...
Audience: kids
Plot: prison, prison escape, freedom, existentialism, friendship between men, life, life sentence, hopes, life philosophy, plot twist, powerful ending, human spirit ...
Time: 1940s, year 1963, year 1965, year 1966, year 1947 ...
Place: usa, maine, pacific ocean, mexico
Is relevant ?
 7.3
 161K
Nomadland (2020)
Genre: Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 107 min.
Story: A woman in her sixties embarks on a journey through the American West after losing everything in the Great Recession, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.
Style: road movie, sad, captivating, sincere, realistic ...
Plot: van, traveler, nomad, motor home, homeless, loneliness, journey, homelessness, road trip, female protagonist, loss of job, on the road ...
Time: year 2011
Place: nevada, arizona
Is relevant ?
 7.9
 355K
Boyhood (2014)
Genre: Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 165 min.
Story: The film tells a story of a divorced couple trying to raise their young son. The story follows the boy for twelve years, from first grade at age 6 through 12th grade at age 17-18, and examines his relationship with his parents as he grows.
Style: depressing, emotional, serious, realistic, thought provoking ...
Audience: teens, kids, chick flick, girls' night, teen drama
Plot: coming of age, childhood, teenager, divorced parents, dysfunctional family, youth, brother sister relationship, stepsister stepsister relationship, abusive husband, abusive relationship, divorce, bully ...
Time: 21st century, 2000s, 2010s, contemporary, year 2011 ...
Place: texas, usa, houston texas, austin texas
Is relevant ?
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
Genre: Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 133 min.
Story: While serving time for insanity at a state mental hospital, implacable rabble-rouser, Randle Patrick McMurphy inspires his fellow patients to rebel against the authoritarian rule of head nurse, Mildred Ratched.
Style: psychological, thought provoking, dramatic, serious, captivating ...
Plot: mental illness, mental institution, fighting the system, freedom, human spirit, insanity, psychiatrist, unlikely friendships, escaped mental patient, dehumanization, crazy, life is a bitch ...
Time: 60s, 20th century
Place: oregon
Is relevant ?
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 8.5
 854K
Whiplash (2014)
Genre: Drama, Music
Country: USA
Duration: 106 min.
Story: Under the direction of a ruthless instructor, a talented young drummer begins to pursue perfection at any cost, even his humanity.
Style: motivational, dramatic, psychological, realistic, intense ...
Audience: teens, teen drama
Plot: obsession, music, teachers and students, desire for fame, follow your dream, jazz, mentor, emotional abuse, musician's life, drummer, musician, music school ...
Time: 2010s, 21st century, contemporary
Place: manhattan new york city, new york, usa
Is relevant ?
 8.0
 515K
Rain Man (1988)
Genre: Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 133 min.
Story: Selfish yuppie Charlie Babbitt's father left a fortune to his savant brother Raymond and a pittance to Charlie; they travel cross-country.
Style: road movie, sincere, uplifting, touching, inspirational ...
Plot: autism, road trip, redemption, runaway, mentally challenged, disability, brother brother relationship, siblings relations, family relations, self discovery, greed, psychology ...
Time: 20th century, 80s
Place: las vegas, los angeles, california, texas, missouri ...
Is relevant ?
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Genre: Drama, War
Country: USA
Duration: 169 min.
Story: As U.S. troops storm the beaches of Normandy, three brothers lie dead on the battlefield, with a fourth trapped behind enemy lines. Ranger captain John Miller and seven men are tasked with penetrating German-held territory and bringing the boy home.
Style: realistic, epic, captivating, breathtaking, rough ...
Audience: chick flick, kids
Plot: war, world war two, courage, military, army, nazi, sniper, self sacrifice, heroic mission, d day, friendship, rescue ...
Time: 1940s, year 1944, middle ages, 20th century
Place: normandy, france, poland, germany, europe ...
Is relevant ?
Django Unchained (2012)
Genre: Drama, Western
Country: USA
Duration: 165 min.
Story: With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.
Style: suspense, captivating, talky, brutal, rough ...
Audience: boys' night
Plot: racism, slavery, violent, bounty hunter, revenge, vengeance, dark humor, gunfight, african american, old west, racial violence, society ...
Time: 19th century, 1850s
Place: usa, tennessee, austin texas, texas, mississippi
Is relevant ?
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 7.3
 112K
Precious (2009)
Genre: Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 110 min.
Story: Set in Harlem in 1987, Claireece "Precious" Jones is a 16-year-old African American girl born into a life no one would want. She's pregnant for the second time by her absent father; at home, she must wait hand and foot on her mother, ...
Style: rough, bleak, emotional, depressing, sad ...
Audience: teens, teen drama
Plot: rape, sexual abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, poverty, illiteracy, social misfits, teacher, aids, life is a bitch, parents and children, dysfunctional family ...
Time: 20th century, year 1987, 80s
Place: new york, usa, manhattan new york city, harlem
Is relevant ?
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Genre: Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 102 min.
Story: The hopes and dreams of four ambitious people are shattered when their drug addictions begin spiraling out of control. A look into addiction and how it overcomes the mind and body.
Style: psychological, disturbing, depressing, emotional, bleak ...
Audience: kids
Plot: addiction, heroin, drugs, drug addiction, insanity, junkie, hallucination, drug abuse, mental illness, loneliness, degradation, drug addict ...
Time: future, 20th century, 90s
Place: new york, usa, coney island brooklyn new york city, brooklyn new york city
Is relevant ?
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
Genre: Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 105 min.
Story: Ted Kramer is a career man for whom his work comes before his family. His wife Joanna cannot take this anymore, so she decides to leave him. Ted is now faced with the tasks of housekeeping and taking care of himself and their young son Billy.
Style: touching, sentimental, sincere, sad, realistic ...
Audience: family outing
Plot: courtroom, lawyer, divorce, single father, custody battle, marriage, family, father son relationship, family relations, court, abandonment, legal ...
Time: 70s, 20th century, 80s
Place: new york, california, usa, manhattan new york city
Is relevant ?
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Genre: Drama, Sport
Country: USA
Duration: 132 min.
Story: Despondent over a painful estrangement from his daughter, trainer Frankie Dunn isn't prepared for boxer Maggie Fitzgerald to enter his life. But Maggie's determined to go pro and to convince Dunn and his cohort to help her.
Style: emotional, sad, touching, depressing, harsh ...
Audience: kids, girls' night
Plot: boxing, sport, determination, euthanasia, female boxer, mentor protege relationship, underdog, human spirit, female athlete, athlete's life, strong female lead, boxing trainer ...
Time: 21st century, contemporary
Place: los angeles, usa, europe, london, las vegas ...
Is relevant ?
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Genre: Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 127 min.
Story: "The Passion of the Christ" is a film about the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus. Director Mel Gibson received much criticism from critics and audiences for his explicit depiction of and focus on violence and on christs suffering, ...
Style: biblical, christian film, rough, factual, emotional ...
Audience: chick flick
Plot: jesus, christianity, religion, betrayal, suffering, torture, death, sacrifice, bible, mission, brutality, life philosophy ...
Time: 1st century, 1930s
Place: holy land, jerusalem, rome italy, ancient greece, middle east
Is relevant ?
 9.2
 1.8M
The Godfather (1972)
Genre: Crime, Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 175 min.
Story: Spanning the years 1945 to 1955, a chronicle of the fictional Italian-American Corleone crime family. When organized crime family patriarch, Vito Corleone barely survives an attempt on his life, his youngest son, Michael steps in to take care of the ...
Style: serious, atmospheric, epic, dramatic, captivating ...
Audience: boys' night
Plot: mafia, organized crime, gangsters, revenge, greed, crime family, betrayal, crimes, pride and honor, murder, gang war, corruption ...
Time: 1940s, 50s, 20th century, post world war two
Place: italy, new york, bronx new york city, sicily, manhattan new york city ...
Is relevant ?
The Godfather Part II (1974)
Genre: Crime, Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 202 min.
Story: In the continuing saga of the Corleone crime family, a young Vito Corleone grows up in Sicily and in 1910s New York. In the 1950s, Michael Corleone attempts to expand the family business into Las Vegas, Hollywood and Cuba.
Style: epic, cerebral, captivating, visually appealing, dramatic ...
Audience: boys' night
Plot: mafia, gangsters, crimes, organized crime, revenge, melancholy, ambition, corrupt politician, murder, cosa nostra, criminal heroes, crime boss ...
Time: 50s, 1940s, 20th century, 1920s, 60s ...
Place: new york, cuba, las vegas, sicily, italy ...
Is relevant ?
 8.1
 460K
The Help (2011)
Genre: Drama
Country: USA, India
Duration: 146 min.
Story: Aibileen Clark is a middle-aged African-American maid who has spent her life raising white children and has recently lost her only son; Minny Jackson is an African-American maid who has often offended her employers despite her family's ...
Style: touching, inspirational, thought provoking, uplifting, emotional ...
Audience: girls' night, chick flick, teens, kids
Plot: racism, civil rights, friendship, hopes, social relations, master and servant, maid, discrimination, human spirit, writers, life is a bitch, racial issues ...
Time: 60s, 50s, 20th century, year 1963
Place: mississippi, usa, southern usa
Is relevant ?
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 101 min.
Story: A family loaded with quirky, colorful characters piles into an old van and road trips to California for little Olive to compete in a beauty pageant.
Style: road movie, feel good, funny, emotional, inspirational ...
Audience: teens, kids, girls' night, date night
Plot: road trip, on the road, dysfunctional family, nothing goes right, gay, obsessive quest, family relations, escapades, coming of age, parenthood, drugs, honest ...
Time: 21st century, contemporary, 2000s, year 2006
Place: california, new mexico, arizona, albuquerque new mexico, usa
Is relevant ?
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Country: USA
Duration: 181 min.
Story: After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins due to the efforts of the Mad Titan, Thanos. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers must assemble once more in order to undo Thanos' actions and ...
Style: sad, epic, exciting, captivating, humorous ...
Audience: kids
Plot: superhero, time travel, heroes, alternate timeline, invasion, superhero team, alien, final battle, epic battle, raccoon, humanity in peril, revenge ...
Time: future, year 2014, year 2012, year 1970, 70s ...
Place: new jersey, japan, norway, missouri, manhattan new york city ...
Is relevant ?
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 8.4
 1.0M
Braveheart (1995)
Genre: Biography, Drama, History, War
Country: USA
Duration: 178 min.
Story: Enraged at the slaughter of Murron, his new bride and childhood love, Scottish warrior William Wallace slays a platoon of the local English lord's soldiers. This leads the village to revolt and, eventually, the entire country to rise up against ...
Style: epic, scenic, breathtaking, emotional, factual ...
Audience: boys' night
Plot: medieval, courage, war, freedom, idealism, tragic hero, battles, sword fight, vengeance, warrior, beautiful scenery, legend ...
Time: middle ages, 14th century, 13th century
Place: scotland, england, scottish highlands, united kingdom, europe ...
Is relevant ?
 8.4
 1.2M
American Beauty (1999)
Genre: Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 122 min.
Story: Lester Burnham, a depressed suburban father in a mid-life crisis, decides to turn his hectic life around after developing an infatuation with his daughter's attractive friend.
Style: thought provoking, sexy, dramatic, sexual, realistic ...
Audience: teens, girls' night, chick flick, kids, teen drama
Plot: midlife crisis, existentialism, coming of age, dysfunctional family, age difference, teenager, loneliness, obsession, suburbs, older man younger woman relationship, youth, older man young girl relationship ...
Time: 90s, 20th century
Place: usa
Is relevant ?
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Country: New Zealand, USA
Duration: 201 min.
Story: Aragorn is revealed as the heir to the ancient kings as he, Gandalf and the other members of the broken fellowship struggle to save Gondor from Sauron's forces. Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam bring the ring closer to the heart of Mordor, the dark ...
Style: epic, atmospheric, stylized, exciting, breathtaking ...
Audience: teens, kids, family outing
Plot: sword fight, friendship, good versus evil, courage, magical, adventure, army, magic, wizards, sword and sorcery, monster, ancient ...
Time: prehistoric times, prehistory
Place: new zealand
Is relevant ?
 7.4
 309K
Moonlight (2016)
Genre: Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 111 min.
Story: The tender, heartbreaking story of a young man’s struggle to find himself, told across three defining chapters in his life as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love, while grappling with his own sexuality.
Style: serious, sad, lgbt cinema, inspirational, art house ...
Audience: teens, chick flick, teen drama
Plot: lgbt, drug dealer, gay, forgiveness, african american, coming of age, drug addict, dysfunctional family, bullying, revenge, homosexuality, lgbtq ...
Time: 2010s
Place: florida, atlanta georgia, miami
Is relevant ?
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Genre: Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 158 min.
Story: Ruthless silver miner, turned oil prospector, Daniel Plainview moves to oil-rich California. Using his adopted son to project a trustworthy, family-man image, Plainview cons local landowners into selling him their valuable properties for a pittance. ...
Style: suspense, serious, disturbing, bleak, gloomy ...
Plot: oil, greed, character study, ambition, rivalry, rise to the top, father son relationship, money, sign language, misanthrope, desert, religion ...
Time: 20th century, 1910s, 1920s, middle ages, turn of the century ...
Place: california, pacific ocean, usa, san francisco, los angeles
Is relevant ?
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Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Genre: Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 137 min.
Story: After his older brother passes away, Lee Chandler is forced to return home to care for his 16-year-old nephew. There he is compelled to deal with a tragic past that separated him from his family and the community where he was born and raised.
Style: depressing, sad, heartbreaking, emotional, psychological ...
Audience: teens
Plot: depression, loss, loneliness, suicide attempt, sadness, death, dysfunctional family, nephew, uncle nephew relationship, death of brother, guardian, uncle ...
Time: 2010s
Place: massachusetts, boston, new england
Is relevant ?
The Hateful Eight (2015)
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller, Western
Country: USA
Duration: 168 min.
Story: Bounty hunters seek shelter from a raging blizzard and get caught up in a plot of betrayal and deception.
Style: captivating, stylized, talky, bloody, exciting ...
Audience: boys' night
Plot: bounty hunter, gang, stagecoach, dark humor, winter, murder, brutality, old west, revenge, snow, prisoner, twists and turns ...
Time: 19th century, victorian era
Place: wyoming, usa
Is relevant ?
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Country: New Zealand, USA
Duration: 178 min.
Story: Young hobbit Frodo Baggins, after inheriting a mysterious ring from his uncle Bilbo, must leave his home in order to keep it from falling into the hands of its evil creator. Along the way, a fellowship is formed to protect the ringbearer and make ...
Style: epic, atmospheric, scenic, exciting, stylized ...
Audience: kids, family outing, teens, boys' night
Plot: sword fight, friendship, sword and sorcery, adventure, good versus evil, fantasy world, mythology, monster, magic, river, journey, medieval ...
Time: future, prehistory, prehistoric times
Place: new zealand
Is relevant ?
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 97 min.
Story: Five high school students, all different stereotypes, meet in detention, where they pour their hearts out to each other, and discover how they have a lot more in common than they thought.
Style: humorous, realistic, talky, feel good, semi serious ...
Audience: teens, girls' night, kids, chick flick, date night ...
Plot: coming of age, high school, teenager, friendship, youth, teenage angst, adolescence, adolescence vs adulthood, high school life, teachers and students, introspection, loneliness ...
Time: 80s, 20th century
Place: chicago illinois
Is relevant ?
 7.4
 82K
Minari (2020)
Genre: Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 115 min.
Story: A Korean-American family moves to Arkansas in search of their own American Dream. With the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother, the stability of their relationships is challenged even more in this new life in the ...
Style: sad, sincere, captivating, thought provoking, interesting ...
Plot: korean american, grandmother grandson relationship, countryside, american dream, friendship, farmer, korean, grandmother granddaughter relationship, family relations, husband wife relationship, family, new life ...
Time: 80s, future
Place: arkansas
Is relevant ?
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
Genre: Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 103 min.
Story: A coming-of-age story based on the best-selling novel by Stephen Chbosky, which follows 15-year-old freshman Charlie, an endearing and naive outsider who is taken under the wings of two seniors. A moving tale of love, loss, fear and hope - and the ...
Style: touching, sincere, realistic, emotional, romantic ...
Audience: teens, chick flick, girls' night, teen drama
Plot: coming of age, high school, teenager, friendship, first love, adolescence, youth, teenage girl, shyness, high school life, suicide, teenage love ...
Time: contemporary, 21st century, 90s, year 1991, 20th century
Place: pittsburgh, pennsylvania, usa
Is relevant ?
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 119 min.
Story: A fading actor best known for his portrayal of a popular superhero attempts to mount a comeback by appearing in a Broadway play. As opening night approaches, his attempts to become more altruistic, rebuild his career, and reconnect with friends and ...
Style: surreal, psychological, atmospheric, talky, enigmatic ...
Plot: existentialism, theater, midlife crisis, dark humor, actor, satire, father daughter relationship, showbiz, surrealism, alter ego, inner voice, art ...
Time: contemporary, 21st century
Place: new york, manhattan new york city, usa
Is relevant ?
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