The 10 best dramas on Netflix for when you want to feel something

Drama can be so devastating and painful.
The ruthless rush of a gut-punch of tragedy, accompanied by an orchestral score that is soaring above the scene, can be brutal. Sometimes, a movie that will make us feel like we are there with them is better than therapy. Sometimes, it can be uplifting to see a character persevere through adversity that gives them hope. Netflix's vast library of TV and film content will provide you with the drama that you are looking for. We have everything you need, including poignant period pieces, dramatic performances, memorable crime narratives and acclaimed coming-of age tales.

These are the top dramas available on Netflix streaming right now.

1. Mudbound

Jason Mitchell and Garrett Hedlund appear in "Mudbound." Credit: Steve Dietl / Netflix

This period drama, based on the novel by Hillary Jordan, depicts the relationships and racial conflicts between two Mississippi Delta farming families. Co-writer/director Dee Ree took audiences to the epic battlefields of World War II and the mud-sucking fields that threatened to erupt. This explosive drama won plenty of praise from critics and four Oscar nominations. These awards included Best Cinematography and Best Adapted Screenplay. Mary J. Blige was also nominated to win Best Original Song, "Mighty River" for her support. Carey Mulligan and Jason Clarke, Rob Morgan and Jason Mitchell, as well as Garrett Hedlund, were part of an ensemble that was praised for their strong performances.

How to Watch: Mudbound is streaming now on Netflix

2. 2. The Piano

Jane Campion, a renowned Kiwi writer/director won her first Academy Award. The dramatic drama centers on a volatile love triangle. Holly Hunter plays a single mother in mid-19th-century Scotland, who has moved to New Zealand to marry Sam Neill (a wealthy man with a cruel streak). Her 10-year-old daughter Anna Paquin, her beloved piano and the tender arms of Harvey Keitel (a burly, but sensitive, sailor) provide comfort. Critics and the Academy were enthralled by Campions' bold colors and passion, as well as their passionate performances. The Piano won three Oscars in 1994: Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. The Piano's prestige and time setting have not diminished its appeal. This one is a great choice for a Netflix and Chill Night.

How to watch: The Piano streaming now on Netflix

3. 3.

Scarlet Johansson, Adam Driver share a happy moment in "Marriage Story". Credit: Wilson Webb/ Netflix

It can be difficult to break up with someone you love. Noah Baumbach, the writer and director of Marriage Story, was able to draw on his own experiences with divorce. The critically-acclaimed drama Marriage Story, which was released in 2019, splits its attention between an actress and a director who are trapped in a dying marriage. Scarlet Johansson and Adam Driver deliver raw performances that are so full of rage and pain, the film's most difficult scenes feel intensely voyeuristic. For their vulnerability, both leads were nominated for Oscars. It was Laura Dern's scene-stealing performance as a fierce and passionate divorce lawyer who won the film's only Oscar. It was fair. This one is not suitable for Netflix or Chill viewing.

How to watch: Marriage Story is available on Netflix.

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4. 4.

You want a detective drama that has some spice and snark. This CW series by Corinne Kingsbury centers on an amateur sleuth who seeks justice for her friend's murder. Murphy Mason, a 20-year-old woman played by Perry Mattfeld, is very reminiscent of the classic film noir's glowering gumshoes. She has a world-weary outlook, sharp mind, a sarcastic sense of wit and an insatiable thirst to drink hard liquor. Her mom and her friends call her a self-destructive screw-up. Murphy claims that she found a dead teen in a back alley and no one believes her. She is blind, and the corpse disappears before the cops arrive. Murphy must solve the case and she will do so with Pretzel, her blind dog. Warning: This series is addictive due to Mattfield's charismatic personality and the show's non-stop twists.

How to watch: In The Dark streaming now on Netflix

5. There will be blood

Dillon Freasier, Daniel Day-Lewis and Daniel Day Lewis are the father and son in "There Will Be Blood." Credit: Paramount/Vantage/Kobal/Shutterstock

Daniel Day-Lewis delivers a powerful performance as an irrational prospector in Paul Thomas Anderson's scathing adaptation of Upton Sinclairs novel Oil! There Will Be Blood is set in the early 19th century. It follows Daniel Plainview (Day Lewis) as he tries to make his fortune, and build a successful family business for his beloved son. A vicious rivalry erupts between Plainview (Day-Lewis) and Paul Dano (a smug preacher). This tale of greed is filled with bravado and violence. However, it's chilling in the movie because of a catchphrase about milkshakes. This drama, rich in style and dark in substance, received eight Oscar nominations. It also won two Oscars in 2008. The first was for Best Cinematography. Lewis' second Best Actor win was the other, following 1989's My Left Foot.

How to watch: There Will Be Blood streaming now on Netflix

6. Wadjda

Haifaa Al-Mansour, writer/director made her feature film debut with this delightful tale about a 10-year-old Saudi girl who dreams of riding a bright green bicycle. Wadjda (Waad Muhammad) longs to race like the boys in Riyadh but is not considered ladylike by her conservative community. She is determined to win the Koran recitation contest and plans to use the cash prize for a bicycle purchase. Al-Mansour gently explores themes of double standards but keeps it light by focusing her optimistic perspective on her strong heroine. This approach was well received by critics around the world and earned Wadjda a BAFTA nominated for Best Film In The English Language. This 2012 film was also the first feature-length film to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, and the first film directed by a Saudi woman.

Watch Wadjda on Netflix.

7. I Lost My Body

In "I Lost My Body," a dismembered hand looks for its home. Credit to netflix

Many animated films fall under the umbrella of child-friendly comedies or chipper musicals. This French film is a remarkable exception. It breaks with expectations by being a tender drama and also features something a bit bizarre, where the protagonist is a dismembered man searching for his missing body. This Jrmy Clapin-directed cartoon is based on the Guillaume Laurant novel. It takes you through Paris' suburbs, from cozy apartments to dangerous subways to glittering rooftops, and ends with a shocking realization. I Lost My Body was praised for its sophisticated aesthetic and complex emotional story. It also won the Csar award for Best Animated Feature. Don't worry if you don't like subtitles! Netflix offers an English over-dub.

How to watch: I Lost My Body streaming now on Netflix

8. 8.

My Girl was the first movie that broke our hearts, as a generation that grew up watching Home Alone. It was like a pair smashed eyeglasses. Too soon? (Too soon?) Howard Zieff portrays youth as reckless, fragile and charmingly nostalgic. Griffin Dunne, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Aykroyd were a welcome addition to the film's mature moments. It is clear that Chlumsky, in her first leading role, is a masterful performer. She delivers a powerful performance that is both playful and touching. Get your tissues out and relive a summer filled with love and heartbreak. You won't be able to get enough Vada Sultenfuss as a child, so check out My Girl 2.

How to watch: My Girl is streaming on Netflix.

9. Alias Grace

Sarah Gadon is seen in stir in "Alias Grace." Credit: Sabrina Lantos/Netflix

Alias Grace is a great adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale. This mini-series is also based on a Margaret Atwood novel. It explores the motives and historical fiction of Grace Marks, a 19th-century serial killer. Sarah Gadon plays the role of the notorious killer who traveled from Ireland to Canada, and made a modest living as a maid to Thomas Kinnear (Paul Gross). Why did she kill him then? Sarah Polley's dazzling script reveals the lyricism in Atwood's words with a quick ear for dialogue. Mary Harron explores the human soul to create a story of murder that is more melancholic and less merciless. It's a captivating mini-series, which is both restrained and riveting. Stars include Anna Paquin and Zachary Levi.

How to Watch: Alias Grace streaming now on Netflix

10. Bad Genius

High school can feel like high school drama with SAT exams and envy. Director Nattawut poonpiriya pays homage to this intensity with a unique and thrilling crime story. Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying plays a brilliant, but financially strapped student who uses her intelligence to not only get high grades, but also to devise a scheme to cheat her fellow students, who are wealthy in money but weak in intellect. The familiar plot is given a crackerjack cast that adds verve and suspense to the show. There are many clever con games and narrow escapes. Poonpiriya, despite all the chaos, offers a thought-provoking theme on class conflict and the paradox of being a genius.

How to watch Bad Genius on Netflix

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This story was first published Jan. 2021, and it was last updated Oct. 2021.