Continuing on with our coverage of the most popular movies on Netflix streaming, I’ve set my sights on dramas this week, and the pool runs deep. Keeping with the previous installments of this series, I looked at the films with at least a million votes to ensure only the most dramatic of cinema made the cut.
From military period pieces to stories of the human spirit, some of the best dramas ever made are currently streaming on Netflix, here are the 12 most popular.
1. The King’s Speech 4.3 stars out of 3,315,250 ratings.
With award-winning performances by both Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech has emerged as not only one of the highest rated films on Netflix, but one of the best movie’s of the last decade. The film’s story of Britain’s King George VI’s struggle to overcome a speech impediment with the aid of speech therapist Lionel Logue, is both inspiring and humorous. The film went on to win Oscars for “Best Picture,” “Best Director,” “Best Actor” and “Best Original Screenplay” at the 83rd Academy Awards. Rotten Tomatoes 92, IMDB 8.1
2. Braveheart 4.2 stars out of 12,135,608 ratings.
Say what you will about Mel Gibson — and there are plenty of things to say about the guy — he’s churned out some solid films when sitting in the director’s chair. Gibson’s biopic of Scottish rebel William Wallace is a three hour opus of steel and blood with a strong performance by Gibson and equally compelling performances by the supporting cast. (Actor Patrick McGoohan’s portrayal of King Edward I is one of the best performances of any actor, in my opinion.) Rotten Tomatoes 85, IMDB 8.4
3. The Pianist 4.1 stars out of 3,251,879 ratings.
Roman Polanski’s film about Polish composer Władysław Szpilman’s attempt to survive in Nazi-occupied Warsaw echoes the director’s own childhood memories of the era. Adrian Brody’s portrayal of Szpilman’s transformation from celebrity to a starving shell of a man is largely regarded as the actor’s best work to date and elevated him to win an Oscar in 2002 for “Best Actor.” Rotten Tomatoes 96, IMDB 8.5
4. Lonesome Dove 4.1 stars out of 1,159,444 ratings.
I covered Lonesome Dove earlier as part of Netflix’s best western offerings, and while it’s technically a miniseries, it plays out more like a movie than a television show. The story of two Texas Rangers heading to Montana to take up cattle ranching boast a strong supporting cast of stars who were just up-and-comers at the time, and won several Emmy awards. IMDB 8.9
5. The Breakfast Club 4 stars out of 8,463,230 ratings.
So the drama is a little less serious — nobody’s dying or fleeing from Nazis — but the teen angst that’s present in John Hughes’ 80s teen comedy/drama is something everyone can relate to. If you’ve only seen bits and pieces of this classic when TBS airs it on weekends, now’s your chance to stream it from beginning to end and see how five teens connect with one another during Saturday detention. Rotten Tomatoes 92, IMDB 7.9
6. Hotel Rwanda 4 stars out of 4,545,760 ratings.
Talk about a tearjerker, Don Cheadle’s performance as a hotelier who gives refuge to men, women and children during the Rwandan civil war shines a light on humanity in the midst of hatred and neglect. Both Cheadle and Nick Nolte deliver terrific performances in a movie that was just as poignant as Schindler’s List was 11 years prior. Rotten Tomatoes 94, IMDB 8.2
7. The Untouchables 4 stars out of 3,366,448 ratings.
I touched on The Untouchables earlier this year with our feature on Netflix’s best crime offerings and it’s back as one of the most popular dramas. The movie trades in historical accuracy for flash, but you’re more than likely not going to care when the bullets begin to fly with Capone’s gang. Stellar performances from Costner, Connery and De Niro deliver the story of Eliot Ness’ attempt to take down Chicago organized crime. Rotten Tomatoes 89, IMDB 8.0
8. Titanic 3.9 stars out of 16,908,453 ratings.
Yes, it’s been parodied probably a million different ways and there’s a certain cheese factor to the love story, but if you can get past that, Titanic is one hell of a movie. Not only is it the highest grossing film of all time, but 16 million ratings — damn, people on Netflix are watching the hell out of this thing. If you don’t have the stamina to sit through all three and half hours, the ship sinking scene with the guy bouncing off the propeller is at least worth a stream. Rotten Tomatoes 69, IMDB 7.7
9. Flight 3.9 stars out of 2,192,533 ratings.
I haven’t seen Flight, but from what I’ve heard it’s both one of Denzel Washington’s stronger performances in recent years and a return to form for director Robert Zemeckis after a decade of forgettable offerings. Washington plays an airline pilot who after saving his passengers in a crash landing comes under fire for a drinking problem. John Goodman rounds out the cast, which alone should be enough to give it a shot. Rotten Tomatoes 75, IMDB 7.3
10. Chinatown 3.9 stars out of 2,131,128 ratings.
If we were ranking this list on sheer cinematic brilliance alone, Chinatown would be at the top but it’s here at least, so all is right. Arguably director Roman Polanski’s best film and some of Jack Nicholson strongest work, the noir crime classic of a detective caught in a web of lies and murder just recently became available for streaming and is worthy of all its hyperbolic accolades. Rotten Tomatoes 93, IMDB 8.3
11. Donnie Brasco 3.9 stars out of 2,092,739 ratings.
Just like Chinatown, Donnie Brasco wasn’t yet up for streaming when we rolled out our Netflix’s best of crime piece, so consider this your chance to catch up. Al Pacino tones it down from his role in Heat two years prior and he’s all the better for it as a hapless mobster who brings undercover agent Donnie Brasco (Johnny Depp) into New York’s Colombo crime family. Rotten Tomatoes 89, IMDB 7.8
12. The World’s Fastest Indian 3.9 stars out of 1,559,679 ratings.
Based on a true story, Indian tells New Zealander Burt Munro’s pursuit to set the land-speed world record in 1967 with custom built 1920 Indian motorcycle. The storyline might feel a bit old-fashioned, but in the feel-good way with Anthony Hopkins delivering a terrific performance that’s just as uplifting as your Rudy’s and Rocky’s. Rotten Tomatoes 90, IMDB 7.9