Best 17 Drama Movies of 2023

Shikhar Jauhari

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Best Drama Movies of 2023

Similar to excellent music, a good drama should make us feel something, entice us, provoke thought, and stick with us long after the credits roll. So it’s no surprise that some of 2023’s most memorable films dealt with heavy subjects: true-crime fans got biopics based on actual murder cases, while those of us who like psychological thrillers had our stomachs in knots throughout the year. Presented here are the top 2023 drama films.

May December

May December

Stream Now at Netflix

Run Time: 1h 57m

The hilarious spoof on the high-art true crime genre is May December, one of filmmaker Todd Haynes’s latest Cannes offerings. Mary Kay Letourneau was a teacher in the United States. She was accused of rape after having an affair with one of her students and later married them while incarcerated. The story is told by Charles Melton of Riverdale and starring Julianne Moore.

In this terrifying story, we accompany Elizabeth (Portman), a Hollywood actress, as she visits Gracie and Joe Melton (Melton) in Savannah, Georgia. Elizabeth eavesdrops on their lives and watches their complicated relationships. At the same time, she researches for her job, collecting facts for her role and also getting personal insights about them.

The Creator

The Creator

Stream Now at Disney+, Hulu, AppleTV

Run Time: 2h 13m

Despite its similarities to previous science fiction films, The Creator is nevertheless a fascinating, exciting, and intellectually stimulating movie. Fantastic world-building complements outstanding acting from John David Washington and Luca Voyles, who play Joshua and his AI offspring, respectively.

An unnamed AI known as The Creator created a sophisticated weapon that could wipe out humanity in 2065, setting the stage for an epic struggle between AI and humans. This story follows Joshua as he is recruited to find and kill Creator and his weapon, as the story progresses Joshua finds himself entranced by an alluring and intelligent AI child who is held hostage. If Joshua wants to survive, they must learn how to trust and respect each other as much as possible to make progress forward.

Past Lives

Past Lives

Stream Now at AppleTV, Prime Video

Run Time: 1h 45m

The emotionally wrenching and stunningly gorgeous film Past Lives will profoundly affect viewers. The characters are so realistic that you might swear you know them from real life, and the film’s love lyricism sticks with viewers long after the credits have rolled.

Past Lives is a heartbreaking romantic drama directed by Korean-Canadian playwright Celine Song. It follows two childhood friends as they journey apart, one moving to America and the other returning home. Fate is intricately connected throughout their lives in ways that neither of them can understand. With its moving depiction of immigrant experiences and heartwarming ideas about love’s ability to overcome all odds, this film says much about the immigrant experience without being preachy or heavy-handed.

Priscilla

Priscilla

Stream Now at Not Available Yet

Run Time: 1h 53m

The early parts of Priscilla’s story are the most interesting because they showcase Spaeny’s mesmerizing blend of innocent wonder and ferocious ferocity. Later chapters, nevertheless, show a disillusioned view of an adult whose values are firmly rooted in their youth.

Golden cages serve as prisms through which Sofia Coppola’s films view the world. As Cailee herself, Cailee Spaeny embodies this emotion in her portrayal of Priscilla. Adapted from Priscilla Presley’s memoir about her time under Elvis’s spell, Coppola offers an honest voice to the female perspective during that period by addressing some of the more challenging parts of being his girlfriend.

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Fremont

Fremont

Stream Now at AppleTV, Prime Video

Run Time: 1h 31m

The first feature film from writer-director Babak Jalali, Fremont, stands out for its subtle narrative weight and eccentric tone. Fremont is set in the titular California city. He follows Donya, an Afghan interpreter who was evacuated when the Taliban came back (Jill Adair). Donya, who is now a factory worker making fortune cookies, is still trying to get her life back together after losing her loved ones.

She gets by by penning wise sayings that inspire and guide others, but their influence frequently extends much beyond what she intends. Her yearning and honesty permeate every word she writes, obfuscating the fact that her fortunes contain regret and misery.

Flora and Son

Flora and Son

Stream Now at AppleTV

Run Time: 1h 37m

Flora (Eve Hewson), Max’s frustrated single mother, tries to reconnect with her son after he gets into trouble with the law again by giving him an old, beat-up acoustic guitar. However, something else is needed. Eventually, Flora finds out that a former guitarist from Los Angeles named Jeff (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) offers online guitar lessons, and the two soon find themselves making music together. Oren Kinlan plays max.

Directed by Carney, Flora, and Son tells a compelling story about the healing power of music. Carney has nailed this formula; his most recent release is another hit with the masses. This album may need more intensity and depth than his other works. Still, it will surely be well-received by families and music lovers.

BlackBerry

BlackBerry

Stream Now at Prime Video, AppleTV

Run Time: 2h

The film chronicles the rise and fall of RIM and the tumultuous relationship between the company’s co-CEOs. Balsillie is an unrelenting businessman intent on taking down everybody in his path. At the same time, Lazaridis excels as a technologist but lacks business ability. This film is entertaining overall, even though it contains some expected scenes of business competition and strife.

Director Matt Johnson and writer Matthew Miller produce an accomplished script by deftly charting an objectively complicated corporate tale while maintaining narrative engagement. Editor Curt Lobb keeps the video moving along at a good pace without getting mired down in corporate jargon; similar to 2015’s The Big Short, this film simplifies complicated ideas for the average audience.

Evil Does Not Exist

Evil Does Not Exist

Stream Now at Not Available Yet

Run Time: 1h 46m

Last year, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car shocked audiences worldwide; this year, his follow-up picture might be seen as more of an environmental thriller or environmental fairytale. The protagonists, Takumi (Hitoshi Omika) and Hana are two villagers close to Tokyo who live in harmony with nature. Their idyllic life is shattered when a glamping site proposed by an outside firm threatens their water source.

At its core, Evil Does Not Exist is about the villagers’ fight against development and their refusal to accept it. Hamaguchi maintains a remarkable sense of tranquility in the opening scenes, frequently panning off-screen to show Takumi and Hana cutting wood or collecting water silently for several minutes. The image is so picturesque that one can almost sense the tranquility enveloping their humble homestead.

A Thousand and One

A Thousand and One

Stream Now at AppleTV, Prime Video

Run Time: 1h 57m

A Thousand and One is a remarkable film that stands out this year. It pays tribute to the vampiric gentrification of Harlem, shows the socioeconomic strain on working-class New Yorkers, delves into misogynoir and colorism, and features an exceptional performance by Taylor as the film’s heroine. Rockwell skillfully weaves meaningful themes throughout the script, ensuring the film never becomes meaningless or abstract.

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As she raises Terry, the camera follows Inez as she tries to go her own way. Inez abducts Terry and moves in with him in a temporary shelter in New Jersey after serving time on Rikers Island for an unnamed minor infraction. She does this to protect Terry from foster care, regardless of the consequences, including the possibility of living an unlawful existence without direct government monitoring.

All of Us Strangers

All of Us Strangers

Stream Now at Not Available Yet

Run Time: 1h 45m

From opening to closing credits, All of Us Strangers stands as a remarkable cinematic accomplishment. Incredible visuals are on display right from the start of All of Us Strangers. After moving into his new apartment complex, Adam finds it towers over him like a sentient structure. Haigh skillfully crafts an unnerving atmosphere here, where Adam lives a half-life due to his parents’ deaths and his family history.

Despite some narrative jiggling, All of Us Strangers is a highly emotional picture due to its numerous terrifying and unsettling scenes. Both Paul Mescal as neighbor Harry and Andrew Scott as a writer are outstanding actors; nevertheless, it is Scott who successfully prevents All of Us Strangers from devolving into strained melodrama and instead discovers a personal beauty within its depths.

Monster

Monster

Stream Now at Not Available Yet

Run Time: 2h 7m

Monster exemplifies Hirokazu Koreeda’s deep awareness of teacher-student relationships and the secrets surrounding a quarrel, continuing his long-standing reputation for intrinsic interest in the human condition. Viewers must be patient as the film takes time to unveil truths, forming and revising judgments along the way. It is not a mystery film per se but rather an epic drama replete with deep anxieties and suspicions.

Featuring a hauntingly beautiful score by the late Ryuichi Sakamoto, Monster is one of the year’s best films. It paints a delicate but captivating picture of chaotic modern existence, and the payoff is satisfying emotionally. Koreeda stages complicated scenarios several times with little adjustments to emphasize contrasting viewpoints, and by employing an ambiguous narrative, she produces an emotive triptych.

Beau Is Afraid

Beau Is Afraid

Stream Now at AppleTV, Prime Video

Run Time: 2h 59m

Due to its audacious goals and unabashed handling of its subject matter, Beau Is Afraid—a psychosexual mindfuck—will captivate or repel viewers depending on their reaction to its complicated and frequently unpleasant subjects. Regardless of your opinion, there’s no denying that Ari Aster has achieved a remarkable feat with this picture.

Living in an inner-city ghetto with inadequate plumbing and violent public nudity, Joaquin Phoenix plays the role of Beau, a nervous middle-aged man. After missing his flight home for his mother’s funeral, Beau must face his worst fears and go through an unexplained maze to get back to his apartment. There hasn’t been a more thought-provoking horror drama than Beau Is Afraid this year. No viewer will see exactly the same thing when viewing Beau Is Afraid; each viewer must determine for themselves what exactly Beau fears in order to complete the puzzle that makes up Beau’s fears.

The Zone of Interest

The Zone of Interest

Stream Now at Not Available Yet

Run Time: 1h 45m

The Zone of Interest, Jonathan Glazer’s most daring drama about the Holocaust, follows in the footsteps of his acclaimed and gripping Under the Skin. Beyond speculating on the idyllic life of former Auschwitz camp commandant Rudolf Hoss, The Zone of Interest asks if the lessons of history, which state that no human being is worth less than another, have been truly internalized.

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Watching this film could be challenging, especially because of the impactful ending scene. Its message of remembering the Holocaust, however, is as timely as ever. The Zone of Interest manages to avoid the usual pitfalls of melodrama, which is its remarkable quality. Rather than showing us real people going about their daily lives, filmmaker Jonathan Glazer employs closed-door shots and wide-angle lenses to make it seem like we’re viewing surveillance footage.

Anatomy of a Fall

Anatomy of a Fall

Stream Now at AppleTV, Prime Video

Run Time: 2h 31m

The intriguing French film Anatomy of a Fall explores the fundamental unknowability of humans through the story of a woman accused of her husband’s murder. Anatomy of a Fall, directed by Justine Triet and starring Sandra Huller as an author who becomes the center of an investigative court case, is a thrilling and rewarding drama that genuinely rewards audience participation with each dramatic twist it presents.

With plot twists that take the story in unexpected ways and increase the film’s societal impact, Anatomy of a Fall manages to be both a thrilling and intellectually ambitious picture. Some women are unfairly criticized for having too many or too few sexual partners. In contrast, others are unfairly judged for not prioritizing their children enough. This courtroom thriller tackles these issues head-on.

The Covenant

The Covenant

Stream Now at Prime Video

Run Time: 2h 3m

In his first foray into political filmmaking, Guy Ritchie—known for his violent comedies and fast-break comic strip dialogue—has set aside his trademark sugary flair: Jake Gyllenhaal’s brilliant performance as a soldier compelled to repay a debt in the Afghanistan war film “The Covenant” demonstrates his skill as a modern classicist who can create compelling characters and thrilling action sequences.

Gyllenhaal and Salim give great performances as a band of brothers fighting existential struggles side by side, allowing the film’s touching heart to radiate. In keeping with other recent military films, ‘The Covenant’ doesn’t provide an in-depth analysis of combat. Still, it does depict men going through a hellish journey where their humanity may never completely surface in a fight for survival, and they may never prevail.

Killers Of The Flower Moon

Killers Of The Flower Moon

Stream Now at AppleTV

Run Time: 3h 26m

The unique use of slow-motion tracking shots in Killers of the Flower Moon elevates and realisticizes the action sequences, setting the film apart from its genre. Killers of the Flower Moon benefits greatly from this method, which makes the film seem less like a Hollywood blockbuster and more like a genuine historical drama.

Featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, this epic western crime thriller is based on the nonfiction book by David Grann and tells the story of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma and the corruption and murder mystery that surrounded the discovery of oil on their land in the 1920s. Cast members deliver riveting performances that keep viewers glued to the screen throughout the film’s lengthy running duration.

Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer

Stream Now at AppleTVPeacockTV

Run Time: 3h

Christopher Nolan continues his trend of subverting Hollywood trends with Oppenheimer, choosing grandiose yet realistic settings and forgoing sole reliance on visual effects for setpieces. Brilliant actor Cillian Murphy brilliantly plays Oppenheimer, and the film’s use of many timelines gives it a noirish flavor as it follows a man whose life is divided between the relentless pursuit of new research and the implications of that science.

As the film progresses, the audience is left to wonder why and what they are viewing. The story follows an intelligent person trying to do good but having a hard time. Given the unforeseen results that Oppenheimer’s actions can cause—results that neither side anticipates—he could be viewed as either the protagonist or the antagonist in this story.

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