25 Drama Movies on Netflix Canada You Need to Watch Right Now
From Oscar-winning epics to underrated indie fare, these dramas on Netflix Canada are emotional rollercoasters.
Only the Brave (2017)
Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin) leads the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite crew of wildland firefighters in Prescott, Arizona. Including the even-keeled Christopher (Taylor Kitsch) and volatile new hire Brendan (Miles Teller), the Hotshots respond to high-priority wildfires across the United States. The team’s skill and determination are put to the test in 2013 when they’re sent to combat the Yarnell Hill Fire, the state’s deadliest wildfire. Based on a true story.
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Margin Call (2011)
Margin Call mostly takes place in boardrooms and on trading floors, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more nerve-wracking movie. Set over 24 hours in 2008, its premise is simple: if a large investment firm predicted a global stock market crash before anyone else, how far would it go to save itself? Featuring a star-studded cast (Zachary Quinto, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore, Paul Bettany and Stanley Tucci, to name a few) and an Academy Award-nominated script by writer-director J.C. Chandor, this is without a doubt the greatest Wall Street movie ever made.
Operation Mincemeat (2022)
Halfway through Operation Mincemeat, the awkward Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen) quips that the British Armed Forces is filled with wannabe writers. It’s a fitting moment, because this elaborate war drama would induce eyerolls if it weren’t for the fact that it’s true. In 1943, the Allies plan to invade Sicily, and Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth) and a team of MI5 officers—including Cholmondeley and Jean Leslie (Kelly Macdonald)—must throw the Nazis off the scent. Their solution? Drop a cadaver named “Maj. William Martin”—who will be carrying false papers detailing a future invasion of Greece—into the Gulf of Cádiz near neutral Spain, in the hopes that the German High Command will get a hold of both and fall for the ruse.
The Good Nurse (2022)
How does an elderly woman in treatment for non-life-threatening injuries die of an insulin overdose? The answer can be found in this unsettling true crime drama, in which a seemingly ordinary nurse, Charles Cullen (Eddie Redmayne), becomes the prime suspect in a string of suspicious hospital deaths. Danish filmmaker Tobias Lindholm gives The Good Nurse an arthouse touch, while Jessica Chastain, as Cullen’s colleague, continues to cement her position as the greatest actress of her generation.
The Green Mile (1999)
Lined up against writer-director Frank Darabont’s other Stephen King prison classic, 1999’s The Green Mile isn’t all that life-affirming. Still, there’s much to love and debate in this Southern tale of magical realism: Michael Clarke Duncan’s breakthrough role as the otherworldly John Coffey, future Oscar winner Sam Rockwell at his most demonic, and Darabont’s unnerving ruminations on God, mortality and divine punishment.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
When 20-year-old janitor Will Hunting (Matt Damon) isn’t wreaking havoc with his buddies, he’s solving mathematics equations that have stumped MIT professors for years. Leave it to the late Robin Williams (in an Academy Award-winning role) and a never-better Minnie Driver to set the young punk on the right path. A bona fide ’90s touchstone, Good Will Hunting is a captivating meditation on love, trauma and child prodigies.
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The Lost Daughter (2021)
Leda Caruso (Olivia Colman) is having a rough time. On holiday in southern Greece, the English university professor suddenly finds herself drawn to Nina (Dakota Johnson), an American mother with her own tribulations. Years earlier, Leda was a young mother too—and sees in Nina a version of herself that still has time to make different choices. Adapted from Elena Ferrante’s 2006 novel by first-time director Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Lost Daughter is a work of palpable unease—culture shock, loneliness and unpredictable feelings abound.
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Though Maud Lewis is one of Canada’s most famous painters, the artist’s reclusive nature has left her personal life a bit of a mystery. Director Aisling Walsh and screenwriter Sherry White (Saving Hope) aim to change that with Maudie, an understated but moving character study starring Sally Hawkins as Lewis and Ethan Hawke as Everett, a fish peddler who later becomes her husband. Exploring the couple’s sometimes uneasy relationship, Lewis’s rise to national fame and her own tumultuous upbringing, this hidden gem is buoyed by fearless performances and a commitment to the power of art.
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News of the World (2020)
While modern westerns like Yellowstone and Outer Range take the “genre mash-up” route, 2020’s News of the World opts for decidedly old-school charm. In 1870, Civil War veteran Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks, in full “cultural icon” mode) makes his living by travelling from town to town reading the news to local residents. One day he comes across a young German girl, Johanna (Helena Zengel), who was kidnapped by a Kiowa tribe six years earlier; with no one to help her, Kidd makes the perilous journey to deliver Johanna to her surviving family.
The Nest (2020)
“He was tempted away by the American Dream; luckily for us, he got tired chasing that dream and wanted to come home.” That’s how we’re introduced to British commodity trader and yuppie wannabe Rory (Jude Law) during a lavish house party in the 1980s. What follows is the swift decline of the once exuberant O’Hara family, as Rory convinces his American wife (Carrie Coon) and two young children to relocate from New York City to Greater London in pursuit of untapped riches. A powerful meditation on class, marriage and self-deception, The Nest is Death of a Salesman for Thatcher’s England.
Let Him Go (2020)
Diane Lane and Kevin Costner—who played the adoptive parents of Clark Kent in 2013’s Man of Steel—reunite in this underrated drama about an aging couple going to great lengths to protect their grandson. In 1960s Montana, retired sheriff George Blackledge (Costner) and homemaker Margaret (Lane) mourn the death of their only son, who left behind a wife, Lorna (Kayli Carter), and infant, Jimmy. Two years later, their daughter-in-law remarries, but the pair fears the worst when Lorna and Jimmy vanish without a trace.
Sound of Metal (2019)
One of the most acclaimed dramas of the last decade, Sound of Metal follows Ruben Stone (Riz Ahmed), a heavy metal drummer and recovering addict who learns that he will permanently lose his hearing. Over time, he bonds with the housemates of a rural shelter for the deaf, but risks alienating his newfound family when he begins inquiring about cochlear implants. Expertly acted and technically dazzling, Sound of Metal is a humane look at an unfamiliar journey.
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The Wonder (2022)
“We are nothing without stories,” a narrator says at the beginning of The Wonder. It’s 1862, and a rural Irish village hires an English nurse, Elizabeth (Florence Pugh), for a special task: to simply watch and listen. The devout O’Donnell family have quite the tale, indeed: the young and healthy Anna O’Donnell (a sensational Kíla Lord Cassidy) claims not to have eaten anything in four months except “Manna from heaven,” and it’s up Elizabeth to determine if she’s a fake or a saint-in-the-making. (But as Elizabeth learns, Anna has a story of her own to tell.)
Little Women (2019)
Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women has been adapted for the silver screen no less than six times…which begs the question, “What is there left to interpret in this classic coming-of-age story?” As writer-director Greta Gerwig—already a formidable presence in American cinema—proves with her 2019 iteration, quite a lot. The highs and lows of the four March sisters—Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh) and Beth (Eliza Scanlen)—are more or less the same, of course. This time around, however, Gerwig employs a non-linear device, while playing up the story’s humour and feminism. If only every book adaptation were as worthwhile as Little Women…
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Pieces of a Woman (2020)
The home birth of a young Boston couple, Martha (Vanessa Kirby, in an Academy Award-nominated performance) and Sean (Shia LaBeouf), ends in tragedy when the baby goes into cardiac arrest and dies. Martha’s family believes the couple’s midwife, Eva (Molly Parker), should be held responsible, and a lawsuit is filed; meanwhile, Martha and Sean’s relationship dissolves due to their shared grief. Bolstered by a trio of devastating performances, Pieces of a Woman is often a difficult watch—but it’s impossible to look away.
Lost Girls (2020)
After her 24-year-old daughter disappears and detectives dismiss the case, Mari Gilbert (Amy Ryan), a blue collar single mother, promises to raise hell. But when news reports of the Long Island serial killer begin to gain traction, Gilbert is convinced her daughter was one of the victims. Directed by documentary filmmaker Liz Garbus and adapted from Robert Kolker’s best-selling non-fiction book, Lost Girls is a sobering, understated drama that lingers long after its unexpected final scene.
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“What is life worth?” writes attorney Ken Feinberg (Michael Keaton, who’s becoming a master at playing real-life figures) on a chalkboard. The question has a double meaning: some time after the 9/11 attacks, Feinberg is put in charge of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, where he must calculate how much money goes to each of the 7,000 victims and, crucially, convince most of them to sign on. It’s rare for a film to make the machinery of bureaucracy feel so compelling and personal.
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The Irishman (2019)
As the director of Goodfellas and The Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese has often been accused of glorifying the lifestyles of immoral men. With that in mind, The Irishman feels like an apology. Not one second of this 209-minute opus, which charts the life of hit man Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) and his relationships with mob boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) and Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), could be mistaken for glamorous. After all, where’s the charm in killing your best friend, losing the love and trust of your family, and seeing history move on without you?
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Marriage Story (2019)
Boasting career-defining performances by Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, Marriage Story is a searing portrayal of divorce and fleeting love. Charlie (Driver), a successful theatre director, and Nicole (Johansson), a veteran actress, have been seeing a mediator to work through their marital issues. One day, Nicole serves him divorce papers, setting the table for a painful custody battle for their son, Henry. Marriage Story may not be the easiest watch, but it’s impossible to look away.
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Set in the Colonia Roma neighbourhood of Mexico City in 1971, Roma follows Indigenous live-in maid Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) and the wealthy household she cares for: Sofia, doctor husband Antonio, and their four young children. Soon, Cleo’s turbulent personal life begins to mirror the disintegrating marriage of her employers, while political tensions in Mexico boil over into full-blown violent protests. Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma is personal storytelling on the grandest scale imaginable.
After fighting abroad in WWII, Jamie (Garrett Hedlund), a white man, and Ronsel (Jason Mitchell), a Black man, return to the Mississippi Delta farm that their families both share. Traumatized by their experiences in battle and frustrated with the racism of the place they call home, the two strike a meaningful but uneasy friendship. Boasting astonishing cinematography and strong performances, Mudbound is a powerful reminder of the brutal realities of the Jim Crow South.
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On July 15, 1974, 29-year-old reporter Christine Chubbuck drew a revolver during a newscast and shot herself—it was the first suicide ever caught on live television. Rebecca Hall stars as Chubbuck, a brilliant journalist whose skill in the workplace masks her tumultuous private life and disintegrating psyche. Michael C. Hall (Dexter) and Tracy Letts (Lady Bird) co-star.
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Private Life (2018)
Middle-aged couple Richard (Paul Giamatti) and Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) have been trying to have a child for years—they have faced multiple failed attempts at artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, while a teenager whose baby they hoped to adopt has stopped contacting them. Things are looking hopeless, until the couple’s 25-year-old niece, the bohemian Sadie (Kayli Carter), agrees to provide a donor egg to Rachel. Wonderfully acted and remarkably written, Private Life is a poignant look at the desire to start a family.
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Fed up by his team’s mediocrity and tight budget, Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) realizes he will have to outsmart richer clubs in order to succeed. To accomplish this, he joins forces with Yale economics grad Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) and begins using complex statistical data to recruit cheap—but effective—players. Both a loving tribute to baseball and a scathing critique of its glaring flaws, Moneyball is pitch-perfect drama.
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The Two Popes (2019)
In the aftermath of a scandal exposing alleged corruption within Vatican City, Cardinal Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce), the archbishop of Buenos Aires, travels to Rome to deliver his resignation. Instead, he’s summoned by Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins), who confides in Bergoglio that he plans to abdicate the papacy and name Bergoglio his successor. Behind closed doors, the two men must confront their fears, doubts and pasts to guarantee the future of the Catholic Church.
Now that you know the best drama movies on Netflix Canada, check out the best movies on Netflix Canada—according to Rotten Tomatoes!