Top Dramas in the Past 20 Years

by IMDb-Editors | created - 19 Sep 2010 | updated - 13 Jun 2013 | Public

From romantic dramas to historical films, the Top Dramas list was created on the basis of overall importance, popularity, and influence. Please keep in mind, "Top" does not necessarily mean "Best", but some films do tug at our heart-strings more than others.

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1. Titanic (1997)

PG-13 | 194 min | Drama, Romance

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
74 Metascore

A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.

Director: James Cameron | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates

Votes: 871,735 | Gross: $0.66M

2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

R | 142 min | Crime, Drama

9.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.3/10 X  
80 Metascore

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

Director: Frank Darabont | Stars: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler

Votes: 1,885,678 | Gross: $28.34M

3. Philadelphia (1993)

PG-13 | 125 min | Drama

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
66 Metascore

When a man with HIV is fired by his law firm because of his condition, he hires a homophobic small time lawyer as the only willing advocate for a wrongful dismissal suit.

Director: Jonathan Demme | Stars: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Roberta Maxwell, Buzz Kilman

Votes: 193,135 | Gross: $77.32M

4. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

PG-13 | 135 min | Biography, Drama

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
72 Metascore

After John Nash, a brilliant but asocial mathematician, accepts secret work in cryptography, his life takes a turn for the nightmarish.

Director: Ron Howard | Stars: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer

Votes: 691,271 | Gross: $170.74M

5. Gladiator (2000)

R | 155 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
67 Metascore

When a Roman General is betrayed, and his family murdered by an emperor's corrupt son, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed

Votes: 1,093,973 | Gross: $187.71M

6. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

PG-13 | 132 min | Drama, Sport

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
86 Metascore

A determined woman works with a hardened boxing trainer to become a professional.

Director: Clint Eastwood | Stars: Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Jay Baruchel

Votes: 535,006 | Gross: $100.49M

7. Schindler's List (1993)

R | 195 min | Biography, Drama, History

8.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
93 Metascore

In German-occupied Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazi Germans.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Caroline Goodall

Votes: 969,532 | Gross: $96.07M

8. Good Will Hunting (1997)

R | 126 min | Drama

8.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
70 Metascore

Will Hunting, a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life.

Director: Gus Van Sant | Stars: Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Stellan Skarsgård

Votes: 685,772 | Gross: $138.43M

9. Braveheart (1995)

R | 178 min | Biography, Drama, History

8.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
68 Metascore

When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, Sir William Wallace begins a revolt against King Edward I of England.

Director: Mel Gibson | Stars: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, Angus Macfadyen

Votes: 816,762 | Gross: $75.60M

10. The English Patient (1996)

R | 162 min | Drama, Romance, War

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
87 Metascore

At the close of WWII, a young nurse tends to a badly-burned plane crash victim. His past is shown in flashbacks, revealing an involvement in a fateful love affair.

Director: Anthony Minghella | Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Kristin Scott Thomas

Votes: 154,111 | Gross: $78.65M

11. The Piano (1993)

R | 121 min | Drama, Music, Romance

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
89 Metascore

A mute woman is sent to 1850s New Zealand along with her young daughter and prized piano for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, but is soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation.

Director: Jane Campion | Stars: Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill, Anna Paquin

Votes: 68,577 | Gross: $40.16M

12. The Pianist (2002)

R | 150 min | Biography, Drama, Music

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
85 Metascore

A Polish Jewish musician struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II.

Director: Roman Polanski | Stars: Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finlay, Emilia Fox

Votes: 566,714 | Gross: $32.57M

13. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

R | 134 min | Drama, Romance

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
87 Metascore

The story of a forbidden and secretive relationship between two cowboys, and their lives over the years.

Director: Ang Lee | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams, Randy Quaid

Votes: 279,086 | Gross: $83.04M

14. Forrest Gump (1994)

PG-13 | 142 min | Drama, Romance

8.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
82 Metascore

JFK, LBJ, Vietnam, Watergate, and other history unfold through the perspective of an Alabama man with an IQ of 75.

Director: Robert Zemeckis | Stars: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Sally Field

Votes: 1,423,016 | Gross: $330.25M

15. Dances with Wolves (1990)

PG-13 | 181 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
72 Metascore

Lieutenant John Dunbar, assigned to a remote western Civil War outpost, befriends wolves and Indians, making him an intolerable aberration in the military.

Director: Kevin Costner | Stars: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene, Rodney A. Grant

Votes: 203,106 | Gross: $184.21M

16. American Beauty (1999)

R | 122 min | Drama, Romance

8.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
86 Metascore

A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend.

Director: Sam Mendes | Stars: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley

Votes: 910,250 | Gross: $130.10M

17. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

PG-13 | 120 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
93 Metascore

A young Chinese warrior steals a sword from a famed swordsman and then escapes into a world of romantic adventure with a mysterious man in the frontier of the nation.

Director: Ang Lee | Stars: Yun-Fat Chow, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang, Chen Chang

Votes: 229,418 | Gross: $128.08M

18. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

R | 108 min | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi

8.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
89 Metascore

When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a procedure to have each other erased from their memories. But it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with.

Director: Michel Gondry | Stars: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson, Gerry Robert Byrne

Votes: 745,299 | Gross: $34.40M

19. Traffic (2000)

R | 147 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
86 Metascore

A conservative judge is appointed by the President to spearhead America's escalating war against drugs, only to discover that his teenage daughter is a crack addict. Two DEA agents protect an informant. A jailed drug baron's wife attempts to carry on the family business.

Director: Steven Soderbergh | Stars: Michael Douglas, Benicio Del Toro, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jacob Vargas

Votes: 178,503 | Gross: $124.12M

20. L.A. Confidential (1997)

R | 138 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

8.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
90 Metascore

As corruption grows in 1950s LA, three policemen - one strait-laced, one brutal, and one sleazy - investigate a series of murders with their own brand of justice.

Director: Curtis Hanson | Stars: Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger

Votes: 453,468 | Gross: $64.62M