10 best drama movies of all time from around the globe

By | June 18, 2023
best drama movies of all time

The weekend is here!! And you are all set!! The Wi-Fi is connected, the kitchen cabinet is stacked up with chips and coke, and your Friday night Google search starts – The best drama movies of all time!! Just like every other time, this search will pop up the classics: Forrest Gump (it’s getting an Indian adaptation these days), Shawshank Redemption, and The Godfather. Want to get a little cutesy? Maybe – The Roman Holiday or Princess Diaries. What if you want something different? Something classy but still not en-masse? Welcome, dear – you are on the right page!! 

If the weekend calculation is done right, you can watch 10 movies at a maximum. So, how about delving into South Asian cinema first? From there, you can book a seat with South American and Canadian content. Hollywood is always your ready dessert! 

The best drama movies of all time – Open up your chips bag 

The Hallyu wave is sand-shifting! Lee Minho, Hyun Bin, and Song Joong-ki have already melted your heart. Son Yejin, Song Hye Kyo, and Bae Suzy’s skin routine are your night-time chingus! But South Korea had been offering its fare much before Parasite made it to the Academy Awards. Here are 2 of the best drama movies of all time from the domains of South Korea. 

1. Poetry (2010)

With a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes – this poignant story depicts an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s struggling to complete her daily chores and developing an interest in poetry. Directed by Lee Chang-dong, this film shares the story of hope and the wish to live, laugh, and learn – the ‘Agnes’ Song is a classic. There is a central conflict with no answer, an absorbing film that goads you to live, and a psychodrama that tells you – life has a lot to offer. Agnes’s song – “How is it over there? How lonely is it? Is it still glowing red at sunset?…” 

best drama movies of all time

Image Credit: IMDb

# It has been given a classic position in modern South Korean cinema.  

2. Hope (2013)

This South Korean motion picture is based on a true story of the brutal rape of an 8-year-old girl in the so-called ‘modern world country.’  Though this country prides itself on politeness and courtesies, drunk and rape laws are still not updated. The grit of the family, the determination of the child to not give up, the trauma of the family, the lifetime-shattering scenario of a lovely little life, and the disreputable legal system – it is one movie that brings us back to the reality of life amidst the paradisical Anneoyhaseos and Sarangheos. You need to have the heart to watch this movie and loads of tissues – this is one bumpy ride. A good afternoon watch! 

# Koreans themselves questioned the intention of having a film on such a sensitive topic though it did a good word of mouth business. 


Though not a very good neighbour to South Korea, Japan’s film history spans over 100 years. The Nihon eiga (the cinema of Japan) can floor you with its poignant portrayal of some of the strongest human emotions. Make a quick phone call to the nearest eatery and see if sushi is available. Top it up with green tea ice cream, and check out this hoga before the weekend ends! 

3. Norwegian Wood (2010)

This Japanese hoga is based on Haruki Murakami’s novel of the same name. Those of you who might have read the book, what must you watch the film too? Well, the reason is – “the poignance that is brought to the screen by the characters.” It is not easy for anyone to bring Murakami’s novel to the frontline, as the author is known to handle complex relationships deftly. However, the film manages to depict this relationship between Toru and Naoko, the bonding, the need for silence, the distance, and the power of love. 

# “I have a million things to talk to you about. All I want in this world is you. ..I want the two of us to begin everything from the beginning.” 

4. Shoplifters (2018)

Poverty is a difficult topic to depict when in cinema. It is not just people struggling to eat and feed, there are social and psychological repercussions to this, and this film brings it to the fore. Showing a Japanese family relying on shoplifting to deal with a poverty life shows the contrast between a socially accepted frigid behaviour and the warmth of a lower class, albeit dishonest family. 

# It was nominated in the Best Film category in Foreign Language at Golden Globe and Academy Awards. 

best drama movies of all time

Image Credit: PIFF

When one talks of Hollywood – Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise make the cut. How about going a little south to explore some domains? With its range of fantasy and crime dramas, Mexico has placed itself on the list of a country that produces the best drama movies of all time. It’s time to Hola to a Mexican motion picture. 

5. Like Water for Chocolate (1992)

Como Agua Para Chocolat: is based on a novel by Esquivel dealing with the concept of magic realism (planning to rewatch A Streetcar Named Desire, anyone?). Dealing with complex themes of gender and tradition, this picture shows how one, in spite of all the boundaries, can redefine life – move ahead and make the best of their situations. “Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us, but we can’t strike them all by ourselves; we need oxygen and a candle to help.”

# The Mexican and US versions have different endings, though the precise reason for this is unknown. 

6. Under the Same Moon (2007)

This is a film of friendship and determination called its Spanish name – La misma luna. Strongly challenging the concept of ‘blood is thicker than water’, this picture – definitely touted as one of the best drama movies of all time shows the depth of true friendship. The determination in the face of difficulties combined with the central theme of love – this picture perhaps gives that little sunshine even when all is lost – the power to go on. 

# As Carlitos says – “My mom said that…when I missed her…I should look at the moon…cause she’d be looking at it too…so I could feel close to her…and not be so sad” echoes with us who miss our loved ones in this tiring world. 


The thing with Canadian classics is that – they started late and are mostly joint productions. However, the beauty of them? They retain the heritage of maple syrups and scenic beauties. So, here is the Canadian quota of best drama movies of all time.

7. Mommy (2014)

The complexities of a mother-son relationship and the tragic effects of the Oedipus Complex have been a subject of novels and cinemas for eternity. However, to shoot the same in a 1:1 aspect ratio and create a cult – is something this film has achieved. Dealing with the complexities of troubled children and the financial weaknesses of parents in dealing with them, it focuses on child psychology, sexual aspirations, and complexities of relations, albeit ending with a note of hope. 

# It was selected to compete for Plame d’Or, where it won the Jury Prize (2014 Cannes Film Festival). The law of S14 was inspired by an actual case of transfer of custody by a mother. 

8. Room (2015)

As a co-production of Ireland, Canada, the USA, and the UK – this is a revelation film for a young boy born in captivity and exposed to the world after 7 years. Based on the novel by Emma Donoghue, this film is a harrowing but rewarding experience. 

best drama movies of all time

Image Credit: Hindustan times

Universally acclaimed, this piece starring Brie Larson and Jacob Trembley in the mother and son roles was shot entirely in a one-room set. What sets this apart is – the hope that it represents – the feeling that wherever and at whatever point of your life you might be standing – just like Jack and Joy, you can move on and start a new life! 

# Brie Larson scored big with BAFTA, Academy, and Golden Globe awards for Best Actress. 


If classics don’t wrench your heart apart and also simultaneously leave a sweet aftertaste in your mouth, melting like choco dip cake without the nuts into your mouth – oh well, what’s drama then? That’s exactly what Hollywood promises you. 

9. Casablanca (1942)

An engrossing story, precise direction, and classy performances – make Casablanca one of the best movies of all time. A fine combination of human grit and pathos, this film set against World War 2 tears at your heart strings as a devastated Rick exclaims – “Of all the Gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine” For all those dejected lovers – rest assured, you’ll always ‘’have Paris’’. From the music to the art direction, Casablanca is one for lovers, losers, and hopeful souls. 

# Its pervasive theme music and the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay (unproduced stage play – Everybody Comes to Rick’s) – you are in for a magical evening. No wonder why it is kept as one of the best drama movies of all time.

1o. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The last film of Sunday is nothing that can beat a bat to this platinum piece! For a sumptuous meal, this movie is the perfect choco lava dessert. On a bright sunny afternoon, this is a film that gives a resting shade. 

Staying true to its iconic dialogue – “Remember Red: Hope is a good thing. Maybe, the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.” – this is a film of salvation that lay within, a redemption that we all are looking for. Touted definitely as one of the best drama movies of all time, this moving piece of art will never fail to bring hope and a smile to your face. Also, to date, it is the highest watched film in terms of rating – whenever played on television. 

Even if you are bored of life or going through the worst of times, even if tomorrow is ANOTHER MONDAY!! – The Shawshank Redemption will help you tide through. 

best drama movies of all time

Image Credit: IMDb

# In 2015, this film was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry – noting it to be: culturally, aesthetically, and historically significant.  


This weekend is over, and you have another 5 days to go before you can “Film and Chill,” – so why not note down these films or even bookmark this page? In the list of best drama movies of all time, the additions for your next weekend can be – 12 Angry Men, On the Waterfront, Citizen Kane, The Colour of Paradise (Iran), Farewell My Concubine (China), A Moment To Remember (South Korea), The Great Gatsby (Robert Redford 1974 version – the 2013 Di Caprio version is also a great watch). 


Work well for the week, and you can finish off the rest next weekend.

Category: Entertainment Movies

About Monalisa Mukherjee

Monalisa Mukherjee is a content writer and copywriter with close to 3 years of experience. She has written for websites like Biography Talk, Contour Cafe, He And She Fitness and Fiction Pad. She is currently associated with a noted Digital Marketing Agency and specialises in writing articles for travel, entertainment, cooking, celeb, lifestyle, tech, health, fashion and film news.

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