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Best drama movies from the last decade

  • #60. Boyhood (2014)

    - Director: Richard Linklater
    - IMDb user rating: 7.9
    - Votes: 320,003
    - Metascore: 100
    - Runtime: 165 min

    Filmed over the course of 12 years, “Boyhood” follows Mason Evans Jr. as he goes from young boy to inquisitive adolescent. In lieu of a strict narrative, director Richard Linklater once again plays it loose while conveying a full range of humanist themes. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette star as Mason’s parents, who likewise learn and mature as the experimental narrative forges ahead.

  • #59. Nightcrawler (2014)

    - Director: Dan Gilroy
    - IMDb user rating: 7.9
    - Votes: 417,891
    - Metascore: 76
    - Runtime: 117 min

    Set in a world too familiar to qualify as satirical, this tightly paced thriller puts modern crime journalism in its proverbial crosshairs. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as L.A.-based con man Louis Bloom, who develops a knack for exploiting tragic events. That makes him a perfect fit for the local TV news, which spares no gruesome detail when trying to pull ahead in the ratings.

  • #58. Dunkirk (2017)

    - Director: Christopher Nolan
    - IMDb user rating: 7.9
    - Votes: 485,968
    - Metascore: 94
    - Runtime: 106 min

    Based on actual events, Christopher Nolan’s taut Word War II movie takes place during the evacuation of Allied forces from the French seaport of Dunkirk. Eschewing traditional character development, the film highlights a gripping fight for survival among various groups of soldiers. The constant sound of a ticking clock reinforces the movie’s tagline: “Time is running out.”

  • #57. Arrival (2016)

    - Director: Denis Villeneuve
    - IMDb user rating: 7.9
    - Votes: 535,161
    - Metascore: 81
    - Runtime: 116 min

    Aliens have landed during the earliest scenes of this Denis Villeneuve film, but don’t take that to mean it’s a standard invasion movie. Incorporating a range of (literally) universal themes, it follows a linguistics expert (Amy Adams) as she tries to determine whether the visitors come in peace. While the narrative does, indeed, bear the hallmarks of a classic sci-fi thriller, there’s a harrowing drama at its core.

  • #56. Life of Pi (2012)

    - Director: Ang Lee
    - IMDb user rating: 7.9
    - Votes: 546,393
    - Metascore: 79
    - Runtime: 127 min

    Adapted from the supposedly “unfilmable” best-selling novel, this 3D adventure sends a young man named Pi out to sea aboard a lifeboat. So begins an epic journey, during which Pi must gain the trust of a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Despite its numerous technical achievements, the movie also succeeds through the power of visceral storytelling.

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  • #55. The Farewell (2019)

    - Director: Lulu Wang
    - IMDb user rating: 8.0
    - Votes: 10,000
    - Metascore: 89
    - Runtime: 100 min

    Mining joy out of tragedy, this semi-autobiographical dramedy from Lulu Wang is “based on an actual lie.” When it’s discovered that a grandmother has weeks to live, her family keeps her in the dark and then expedites a wedding as a celebratory farewell. Awkwafina of “Crazy Rich Asians” fame stars in her first leading role.

  • #54. The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (2013)

    - Director: Isao Takahata
    - IMDb user rating: 8.0
    - Votes: 30,173
    - Metascore: 89
    - Runtime: 137 min

    Over eight years in the making, this Studio Ghibli production draws inspiration from a famous 10th-century Japanese folktale. Presented in a stunning hand-drawn animation style, the movie starts off with the discovery of a tiny princess living inside a bamboo stalk. As she blossoms into a young woman, she catches the eye of various potential suitors.

  • #53. Shoplifters (2018)

    - Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
    - IMDb user rating: 8.0
    - Votes: 40,073
    - Metascore: 93
    - Runtime: 121 min

    Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, this Japanese drama centers on a family of small-time crooks. When they take in a young girl off the streets, the family is forced to reckon with its thieving ways. A bona fide critical darling, it has a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer and a score of 93 on Metacritic.

  • #52. Short Term 12 (2013)

    - Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
    - IMDb user rating: 8.0
    - Votes: 75,108
    - Metascore: 82
    - Runtime: 96 min

    Actress Brie Larson delivers a breakthrough performance in this independent drama, about the supervising staff at a residential treatment facility. As she tries to help various at-risk youth, a young counselor (Larson) struggles to balance her career and her personal life. The film premiered at SXSW in 2013, winning both the Grand Jury and Audience Award.

  • #51. Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (2010)

    - Director: José Padilha
    - IMDb user rating: 8.0
    - Votes: 75,948
    - Metascore: 71
    - Runtime: 115 min

    Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha followed up 2007’s “Elite Squad” with this hotly anticipated sequel. It offers a semi-fictional account of BOPE, the tactical unit of the Military Police of Rio de Janeiro. Interweaving pulse-pounding action with political drama, it remains one of Brazil’s highest-grossing domestic films.

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