Whether based on a true story or offering a look into a part of life little seen, there are multiple ways to bring a compelling drama to the big screen. IMDb TV has plenty of examples of this ready to watch.
IMDb TV is the free, ad-supported (AVOD) streaming service from the website that bills itself as the Internet Movie Database. Offering some of the best movies and shows around, there’s plenty to enjoy in genres ranging from comedy, action, documentary and more, with new titles being added regularly.
Here’s a look at some of the best dramas on IMDb TV right now.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
A Beautiful Mind is the Best Picture-winning film from Ron Howard about mathematician John Nash, who while doing brilliant work discovers that he suffers from schizophrenia.
Russell Crowe, coming off his Oscar-winning role in Gladiator, gives a complete opposite performance as Nash, earning him another Oscar nomination. Jennifer Connelly stars as Alicia Nash, which saw her win the Oscar. A Beautiful Mind rounded out it’s Oscars with a win for Howard as Best Director.
A Beautiful Mind's great cast also included Paul Bettany, Ed Harris, Christopher Plummer, Adam Goldberg, Josh Lucas and Anthony Rapp.
The African Queen (1951)
Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, two of the biggest stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood, only worked together one time, but it resulted in The African Queen, so they certainly made the most of it.
Directed by John Huston, Bogart stars as a drunken river boat captain who is persuaded by Hepburn’s missionary to attack the Germans during World War I. But the titular boat has more to worry about than Germans as it travels down a dangerous river.
The African Queen is Bogart’s lone win for Best Actor and is listed by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best films of all time.
All the Money in the World (2017)
All the Money in the World made headlines ahead of its release for all the wrong reasons, as director Ridley Scott had to scramble to replace Kevin Spacey, originally cast to play J. Paul Getty, with Christopher Plummer.
Despite the acrobatics put on to make the switch work, All the Money in the World is an entertaining drama chronicling the kidnapping of Getty’s grandson during the 1970s.
Plummer earned an Oscar nomination for his role, but the heart of the movie belongs to Michelle Williams as the determined mother of the young Getty.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
Michael Keaton, the former star of Batman who needed a bit of a career pick-me-up, stars as a former superhero star who tries to revive his career with an ambitious Broadway production. Talk about life imitating art.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Birdman will probably always stand out as one of the more unique Best Picture-winning films. Dark dramedy made to look like one continuous shot with a cast that in addition to Keaton includes Emma Stone, Ed Norton, Naomi Watts, Zack Galifianakis, Amy Ryan and more.
Black Swan (2010)
A trip to the ballet like you’ve never seen before, Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan is a psychological ride along with Natalie Portman’s obsessed and haunted ballerina.
Cast as the dual-lead in a production of Swan Lake, dancer Nina struggles to maintain sanity as she deals with the pressures she puts on herself and ones from those around her.
Portman’s Oscar-winning performance is supported by Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder and Barbara Hershey.
Blue Valentine (2010)
Blue Valentine, from director Derek Cianfrance and starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, is the opposite of a rom-com. It is a look at love and relationships that doesn’t hide the difficulties, but accentuates them.
While that definitely doesn’t sound as fun as the opposites attract and live happily ever after storyline you’ll find in a typical love story, Blue Valentine is an intimate and touching story anchored by a pair of great performances from Gosling and Williams.
Boyz N the Hood (1991)
John Singleton’s revolutionary film about race, violence and people fighting for their future in the town of Crenshaw in Los Angeles as things headed into the 1990s followed three young men played by Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut and Ice Cube. Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett also starred.
Singleton was 24 years old when he made Boyz n the Hood, becoming both the youngest director ever nominated for Best Director at the Oscars (besting Orson Welles by two years) and the first Black director nominated.
It’s a tragedy we lost Singleton in 2019 at such a young age, but he left behind a strong legacy, led by Boyz n the Hood.
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
David Lean is responsible for some of the most epic movies in history, of which The Bridge on the River Kwai sits comfortably among. The film is not only considered one of the best World War II movies ever, but one of the best films ever made, full stop (it ranks as #36 on AFI’s 2007 Top 100 movies list).
The Bridge on the River Kwai tells the story of a group of British POWs led by Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness), who are forced by the Japanese to build a bridge that would prove key in the war efforts. Meanwhile, Allied forces are devising a plan to blow the bridge up.
The film won seven Oscars, including for Best Picture, Director, Actor and Adapted Screenplay. In addition to Guinness, The Bridge on the River Kwai stars William Holden, Jack Hawkins and Sessue Hayakawa, who would net a Best Supporting Actor nomination as the Japanese colonel.
The Deer Hunter (1978)
Michael Cimino’s Vietnam war epic has its most memorable scene in the prisoner of war camp with the game of Russian roulette, but the heart of The Deer Hunter is away from the battlefield and how the main group of soldiers (Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken John Savage) and their family and friends (among which are Meryl Streep and John Cazale) are impacted by the horrors of the war.
A Best Picture winner, The Deer Hunter is revered by many for Cimino’s filmmaking and its performances, which included Oscar noms for De Niro and Streep and a win for Walken.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (2014)
There’s an interesting backstory to The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. Writer/director Ned Benson had originally planned for the film, starring Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy, to be told in two films covering the same events but from the two perspectives of their lead characters. However, studio meddling made it so a single version was most widely released.
Despite this, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is a showcase for both actors as a couple trying to figure out how to move in their lives and their relationship after a tragedy.
Give the combined version a watch on IMDb TV, and if it interests you, pursue the separate versions, titled The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him.
In a Lonely Place (1950)
Few actors were better suited for film noir than Humphrey Bogart. One of his better entries into the classic genre was In a Lonely Place from director Nicholas Ray.
Bogart stars as a screenwriter who is thought to be a murder suspect until his neighbor (Gloria Grahame) says that he is innocent. However, as his violent tendencies start to show, she begins to have her doubts.
The trailer may be a little hokey — “Suspense!” “Intrigue!” (it was the 1950s after all) — but the drama of In a Lonely Place holds up to this day.
Based on a true story, Lion tells the story of a five-year-old Indian boy who gets lost far from his home and is eventually adopted by an Australian family. As an adult, he takes on the challenge of trying to find and reconnect with his lost family.
Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman, both Oscar nominated for their supporting roles (weird since Patel plays the adult version of the main character), star alongside Rooney Mara, David Wenham and Sunny Pawar. Garth Davis directed.
Get your tissues ready because there are plenty of tear-inducing moments in Lion.
If we’ve learned anything from Christopher Nolan’s filmography, it’s that he loves to play with time. His breakout film, Memento, is a prime example of this, as he tells the story backwards.
Memento follows Leonard, a man who has lost the ability to keep short term memories, as he tries to put the pieces together to find the man who killed his wife and gave him his condition. Of course, as a Nolan movie, expect a few more twists and turns along the way.
Christopher Nolan takes big, bold swings with his movies as much as anyone these days. Comparatively, Memento is a smaller film, but it still holds up and is considered among the director’s best works.
Before Patty Jenkins successfully brought Wonder Woman to the big screen, she made her feature directing debut with Monster, an biopic on Aileen Wuornos, a serial killer that murdered seven men in 1989 and 1990. While at times sympathetic, Jenkins and company do not hold back in showing the darker side of Wuornos’ story.
Charlize Theron stars as Wuornos in a nearly unrecognizable performance that won her an Oscar for Best Actress. Christina Rici and Bruce Dern also star.
Nicholas and Alexandra (1971)
The historical epic is a grand tradition in Hollywood, bringing to the big screen events from all across the world and in different eras. A popular subject is the Russian revolution in the early 20th century, which is where Nicholas and Alexandra takes place.
The title refers to Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra, who ended up being the last monarch of Russia as his failings helped lead to the rise of the Bolsheviks and the formation of the Soviet Union.
It was one of the most momentous events of the 20th century, and Nicholas and Alexandra portrays it in the biggest way that it can.
Sense and Sensibility (1995)
One of the most beloved film adaptations of Jane Austen’s work, Ang Lee and Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility is a beautiful rendition of the Dashwood sisters Elinor (Thompson) and Marianne (Kate Winslet) as they attempt to navigate life and love in their own distinct ways following the death of their father.
Sense and Sensibility was Ang Lee’s first English-language directing job, and he had a great collaborator in Thompson, whose script would win an Oscar. He also had a cast that included Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Imelda Staunton, Tom Wilkinson, Gemma Jones and Hugh Laurie.
Wind River (2017)
A veteran hunter assists an FBI agent brought to a Native American reservation in Wyoming to investigate the murder of a young girl. But there are plenty of secrets and tensions within the community that have their own interests.
This is the premise of Wind River, the directorial debut from Taylor Sheridan, who has also written the scripts for Sicario, Hell or High Water and created the TV show Yellowstone. Sheridan was able to step behind the camera and make just as an effective thriller as any of those entries.
Wind River stars Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen and Graham Greene.
Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.
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