Unveiling the 36 All-Time Best Drama Movies That Redefined Cinema, Ranked

In movies, dramas are often praised because they make you feel a lot of emotions. These films not only show you amazing places and things, but they also tell stories that can touch your heart and stay with you forever.

With hundreds and thousands of drama films released, here are the top 36 all-time drama movies that redefined cinema, according to IMDb. 

1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption MSN
Image Credit: Castle Rock Entertainment/IMDb

Rating: 9.3 

Director: Frank Darabont

Gross: 28.34 million USD

The Shawshank Redemption is a drama based on Stephen King’s novella. It explores all sorts of issues, from friendship to compassion.

Starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, this film will take you on a roller coaster of feelings, from intrigue to heartbreak (especially with Brooks’ story).

2. The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight MSN
Image Credit: TM &DC Comics.2008 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./IMDb

Rating: 9.0 

Director: Christopher Nolan

Gross:  534.86 million USD

Led by incredible actors Christian Bale and Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight is the second movie in Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy. It is a take on DC superhero Batman in a way you’ve never seen before.

Ledger delivered an incredible and mind-boggling performance as Joker, making you feel conflicted and love him more as a villain. Bale, as the Dark Knight, performed excellently as he struggled with Joker’s games and tricks. 

3. Fight Club (1999)

Fight Club IMDb MSN
Image Credit: Fox 2000 Pictures

Rating: 8.8

Director: David Fincher

Gross: 37.03 million dollars

“The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club” is a popular line in the movie by Tyler Durden (Pitt). This is the movie’s popular line that launched it to success, along with the brilliant acting skills of leading stars Brad Pitt and Edward Norton.

The story follows two seemingly opposite men forming an underground fight club that turned so much more than they expected. 

4. Forrest Gump (1994)

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Image Credit: Paramount Pictures/IMDb

Rating: 8.8

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Gross: 330.25 million USD

Forrest Gump is a romance drama that follows the life of Forrest Gump, a man in Alabama known for his IQ of 75, as he sees his childhood sweetheart again.

Starring Tom Hanks and Robin Wright, the film offers a different perspective on love, family, and even patriotism.

5. Pulp Fiction (1994)

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Image Credit: Miramax/IMDb

Rating: 8.9

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Gross: 107.93 million USD

Pulp Fiction features an all-star cast that includes John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, and Bruce Willis. The film follows the stories of hitmen, bandits, a gangster, and a boxer as they traverse the road of violence toward redemption.

Besides its casting and incredible plot, it is also popular for using unconventional non-linear narratives that would have either caused the movie to fail or succeed. Good thing it’s the latter.

6. Interstellar (2014)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. and Paramount Pictures Corporation/IMDb

Rating: 8.7

Director: Christopher Nolan

Gross: 188.02 million USD

Interstellar is an amazing fusion of sci-fi and drama genres starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway.

The film narrates the adventure of Joseph Cooper, an ex-NASA pilot and farmer tasked to lead a group of scientists to find a new habitable planet to save humanity. This is because Earth was becoming more and more unlivable. 

7. The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather MSN
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures/IMDb

Rating: 9.2

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Gross: 134.97 million USD

The Godfather is a crime drama that delves deeper into the life of a mafia family. Family head Don Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando, is the focus of this film as he gives his empire to Michael, played by Al Pacino, his youngest.

The movie revolves around Don Vito Corleone protecting his family and the power and risks that come with being in a mafia dynasty.

8. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

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Image Credit: New Line Productions, Inc./IMDb

Rating: 8.8

Director: Peter Jackson

Gross: 315.54 million USD

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is the first part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s grand adventure masterpiece novel.

Starring Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, and Orlando Bloom, it follows a group from different races as they save Middle-earth from a powerful dark lord by destroying one ring. 

9. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

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Image Credit: New Line Cinema/IMDb

Rating: 9.0

Director: Peter Jackson

Gross: 377.85 million USD

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is the final film in Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Similar to the first part of this trilogy, The Return of the King is also one solid drama movie.

In this adventure movie, the gang is back to continue their fight against evil. Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) journey to defeat Sauron’s army while Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) find their way to mount doom with the powerful ring. 

10. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Legendary Pictures Funding LLC/IMDb

Rating: 8.4

Director: Christopher Nolan

Gross: 448.14 million USD

The Dark Knight Rises is the sequel to Nolan’s Batman franchise, with the story set eight years after Joker’s attack and reign of horror.

Batman, played by Christian Bale, was forced out of his exile by Selina Kyle, played by Anne Hathaway, with Gotham City in danger from Bane, a smart but violent terrorist. 

11. Se7en (1995)

Se7en MSN
Image Credit: New Line Cinema/IMDb

Rating: 8.6

Director: David Fincher

Gross: 100.13 million USD

Se7en is a crime and mystery drama that follows the story of a rookie-veteran detective pair, played by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. They were assigned to hunt down a mysterious serial killer who chillingly uses the seven deadly sins as part of his crimes.

The storytelling is a masterpiece, especially with the integration of psychological direction.

12. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

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Image Credit: New Line Productions/IMDb

Rating: 8.8

Director: Peter Jackson

Gross: 342.55 million USD

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is the sequel to The Fellowship of the Ring and the second movie of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Continuing from the first movie, the group was divided, with Frodo and Sam inching their way to Mordor to destroy the ring with the suspicious Gollum in tow. 

13. Django Unchained (2012)

Django Unchained MSN
Image Credit: The Weinstein Company/IMDb

Rating: 8.5

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Gross: 162.81 million USD

Django Unchained stars Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Christoph Waltz.

It is a Western drama that follows the story of a freed slave who went out to get his wife out of a Mississippi plantation run by a brutal and heartless owner. He is thankfully aided by a strong German bounty hunter. 

14. Gladiator (2000)

Gladiator MSN
Image Credit: Dreamworks LLC & Universal Pictures/IMDb

Rating: 8.5

Director: Ridley Scott

Gross: 187.71 million USD

Gladiator is an action drama that narrates the story of a Roman General, played by Russell Crowe.

He was betrayed by the corrupt emperor who destroyed his life by killing his family and making him a slave. The movie follows his story as he exacts his vengeance on everything that turned his life into a nightmare. 

15. Batman Begins (2005)

Batman Begins MSN
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment/IMDb

Rating: 8.2

Director: Christopher Nolan

Gross: 206.85 million USD

Batman Begins is the first movie in The Dark Knight trilogy. The film shows the transition from the fictional character Bruce Wayne to the vigilante character Batman.

Wayne learned how to fight after seeing his parents die in front of him. He returned to Gotham and confronted a secret society planning to destroy his city. 

16. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

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Image Credit: The Weinstein Company/IMDb

Rating: 8.3

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Gross: 120.54 million USD

Inglourious Basterds is a war drama that follows a group of Jewish American soldiers who banded together with a vengeful theater owner in an elaborate plan to kill Nazi leaders.

While the movie is entirely fictional, some characters are based on real-life people. 

17. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

The Wolf of Wall Street MSN
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures/IMDb

Rating: 8.2

Director: Martin Scorsese

Gross: 116.90 million USD

The Wolf of Wall Street is a comedy-drama based on the life of wealthy stockbroker Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

The movie used Belfort’s memoir he wrote himself after he got out of prison for fraud and misconduct cases. 

18. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The Silence of the Lambs MSN
Image Credit: MGM/IMDb

Rating: 8.6

Director: Jonathan Demme

Gross: 130.74 million USD

The Silence of the Lambs is a thriller drama that follows the story of a young FBI agent Clarice Starling, played by Jodie Foster, who was tasked to capture a serial killer who is known for skinning his victims.

She needs the help of Hannibal, the dangerously manipulative and smart cannibal killer, to succeed.

19. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Saving Private Ryan MSN
Image Credit: Amblin Entertainment/IMDb

Rating: 8.6

Director: Steven Spielberg

Gross: 216.54 million USD

Saving Private Ryan is a war drama about a group of American soldiers going to great lengths to save a paratrooper whose brothers were killed in the war.

Starring Tom Hanks and Matt Damon, this movie became the stepping stone for many incredible actors today. They started as new faces to the screen through this movie and later became big stars of their own rights, including Edward Burns and Vin Diesel. 

20. Schindler’s List (1993)

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Image Credit: Universal Pictures/IMDb

Rating: 9.0

Director: Steven Spielberg

Gross: 96.9 million USD

Schindler’s List is a historical drama set during the World War II, specifically in the German-occupied Poland.

The movie narrates the story of Oskar Schindler, an industrialist who tried to smuggle his Jewish workers away from Nazi persecution. It is based on his life as he was able to save 1,300 Jews from their deaths. 

21. Joker (2019)

Joker MSN
Image Credit: Warner Bros./IMDb

Rating: 8.4

Director: Todd Philips

Gross: 335.45 million USD

Starring Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro, Joker is a thriller drama that follows the popular Batman villain Joker.

The movie dives deeply into the beginning and transition of Arthur Fleck from an aspiring comedian to Gotham’s very own Batman nemesis and clown prince. 

22. The Prestige (2006)

The Prestige MSN
Image Credit: Touchstone Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures/IMDb

Rating: 8.5

Director: Christopher Nolan

Gross: 53.09 million USD

The Prestige is an intriguing mystery drama set in 1890s London, where two magicians battle for brilliance in creating the best illusion possible. Starring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, they sacrificed everything just to get ahead of each other. 

23. The Departed (2006)

The Departed MSN
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./IMDb

Rating: 8.5

Director: Martin Scorsese

Gross: 132.38 million USD

The Departed is a dramatic crime thriller that follows the showdown of an undercover cop and a police mole as they try to out each other to the Irish gang.

This movie has an all-star cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, and Mark Wahlberg. 

24. The Green Mile (1999)

The Green Mile MSN
Image Credit: Warner Bros./IMDb

Rating: 8.6

Director: Frank Darabont

Gross: 136.80 million USD

The Green Mile is a crime drama starring Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan.

Set in Louisiana’s Cold Mountain Penitentiary, the movie revolves around John, a gentle giant prisoner on death row, who has the power to heal people, and Paul, the cop trying to delay his death. 

25. The Godfather Part II (1974)

The Godfather Part II MSN
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures/IMDb

Rating: 9.0

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Gross: 57.30 million USD

The Godfather Part II is the continuation of the epic The Godfather, yet at the same time, the backstory of that film.

It shows Vito Corleone’s life in the 1920s side-by-side with scenes of his son, Michael, expanding his leadership in the family business. 

26. Titanic (1997)

Titanic MSN
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures/IMDb

Rating: 7.9

Director: James Cameron

Gross: 659.33 million USD

The unforgettable Titanic made many people cry in cinemas, with a young Leonardo DiCaprio on screen falling in love with the seventeen-year-old rich lady, Kate Winslet. Both went to ride the R.M..S Titanic, which tragically got in an accident and sank.

The film is based on a real-life tragedy. And some of the characters in the film represented real people who rode the Titanic and perished with it. 

27. GoodFellas (1990)

GoodFellas MSN
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment/IMDb

Rating: 8.7

Director: Martin Scorsese

Gross: 46.84 million USD

GoodFellas is a biographic drama that follows the life of Henry Hill, a dangerous mob boss.

Based on Pileggi’s 1985 non-fiction book Wiseguy, the film narrates Hill’s life with his mob associates and his relationship with his wife and family. 

28. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Avengers Endgame MSN
Image Credit: Marvel Studios/IMDb

Rating: 8.4

Director: Anthony & Joe Russo

Gross: 858.37 million USD

Avengers: Endgame is the most-awaited continuation of Avengers: Infinity War, when the universe was left to ruins by Thanos.

To salvage anything that can be saved, what’s left of the Avengers team assembled again. The remaining Avengers are struggling to gather more allies and find a way to reverse what Thanos did in the universe. 

29. Léon: The Professional (1994)

Léon The Professional MSN
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/IMDb

Rating: 8.5

Director: Luc Besson

Gross: 19.50 million USD

Léon: The Professional is an action drama that centers on a professional assassin who was forced to take in 12-year-old Mathilda after her family was murdered.

Starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, and Natalie Portman, the film focuses on the unique connection that grew between the cold hitman and the young girl. It also shows the adventure of Mathilda as she learns how to be an assassin and become a protégée. 

30. American Beauty (1999)

American Beauty MSN
Image Credit: Dreamworks/IMDb

Rating: 8.3

Director: Sam Mendes

Gross: 130.10 million USD

American Beauty is a 1999 drama film that follows the life of Lester Burnham (played by Kevin Spacey), a sub-urban advertising executive experiencing a midlife crisis. Sexually frustrated and lonely, he started fixating on his teenage daughter’s best friend. Having a materialistic wife and an insecure daughter does not help his case.

Because of the movie’s take on issues like materialism, sexuality, and self-liberation, many see the film as academically sound and enlightening. 

31. American History X (1998)

American History X MSN
Image Credit: New Line Productions, Inc./IMDb

Rating: 8.5

Director: Tony Kaye

Gross: 6.72 million USD

American History X is a crime drama narrating the life of Derek, a neo-Nazi who was incarcerated after murdering two black young men. When he was released from prison, he vowed to change his ways and mindset. With his younger brother Danny seeming to follow in his footsteps, his goal in life is to stop him from further destroying his life as Derek did. 

32. V for Vendetta (2005)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros./IMDb

Rating: 8.2

Director: James McTeigue

Gross: 70.51 million USD

V for Vendetta is a sci-fi action drama that transports you to a dystopian society set in future Britain.

Based on the DC Vertigo Comics limited series, the film follows the actions of V, a masked freedom fighter attempting to make a change and encourage a revolution against the fascist government. Aided by Evey Hammond, played by Natalie Portman, V aims to overthrow the government while New Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Eric Finch desperately tries to stop him.

33. The Truman Show (1998)

The Truman Show MSN
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures/IMDb

Rating: 8.2

Director: Peter Weir

Gross: 125.62 million USD

The Truman Show is a comedy-drama film that narrates the story of Truman Burbank, played by Jim Carrey, an insurance salesman who seems to be living a very ordinary life. That’s until he discovered that his whole life is a reality TV show many people are watching.

His whole world is even a large set run by actors and producers. 

34. The Usual Suspects (1995)

The Usual Suspects MSN
Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc./IMDb

Rating: 8.5

Director: Bryan Singer

Gross: 23.34 million USD

The Usual Suspects is a mystery crime drama that follows Roger “Verbal” Kint, a con man who is among the two survivors of a shoot-out massacre in the Port of Los Angeles.

In his interrogation with the police, he revealed the real identities of his criminal companions and their leader, the mysterious crime lord Keyser Soze. 

35. The Lion King (1994)

The Lion King MSN
Image Credit: Disney Enterprises, Inc./IMDb

Rating: 8.5

Director: Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff

Gross: 422.78 million USD

The Lion King is an animated drama movie that features the voices of Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, and Jeremy Irons.

Produced by Walt Disney, the film tells the story of Simba, the lion prince, and his struggle for power against Scar, his uncle who killed his father and wanted to steal the throne from him. 

36. Up (2009)

Image Credit: Disney/Pixar/IMDb

Rating: 8.3

Director: Pete Docter & Bob Peterson

Gross: 293 million USD

Produced by Pixar and released by Walt Disney, Up is a heartwarming animated film that follows the bitter and lonely life of 78-year-old widower Carl Fredricksen. Equipping his house with balloons, he decided to travel to South America and see Paradise Falls to fulfill his promise to his late wife, Ellie.

Wilderness explorer Russell accidentally came with him as a stowaway. Along the way, they encountered Dug, the talking dog, and Kevin, a giant bird, and went on an adventure. Carl was also able to meet his childhood idol explorer Charles Muntz.

Which of these 36 movies have you watched and made a mark in your life? If you’re up for a weekend of binge-watching, start with the top of the list and have a dramatic day ahead of you.

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Schindlers List IMDb MSN

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Image Credit: arp on Depositphotos

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Source: IMDb