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Best dramas on Netflix 2020: Movies and TV shows to stream

Roma
(Image credit: Netflix)

There are a ton of choices among the best dramas on Netflix. When you have a chance to settle in for the night and take in a movie, or binge a serious show, it can be tough to figure out what you should watch. 

We've perused Netflix's huge catalog of films and TV programs to find some of Netflix's best dramas that you can stream right now, whether you're in the mood for crime, history, family, romance or revolution.

And if you're interested in other genres, check out the best romantic movies on Netflix and the best family films on Netflix.

Roma

Alfonso Cuaron's beautifully-crafted Roma earned raves and 10 Oscar nominations (and three wins, including Best Director). A black-and-white epic, Roma shows us the life of a Mexico City native who serves a white family and is practically part of the family, which is struggling to stay together in the face of a series of catastrophes.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%

Stars: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira

Director: Alfonso Cuaron

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Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

Somewhere between a traditional movie and an interactive experience, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is a movie that continues the disturbing traditions of the TV show it comes from. Giving audiences control — or at least the illusion thereof — Bandersnatch places us in the shoes of Stefan Butler, a video game developer in the U.K. whose world is unravelling around him. Make sure to play through multiple times, and don't let a dead-end stop you. Awkwardly enough, this special won't play on the Apple TV.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 72%

Stars: Fionn Whitehead, Will Poulter, Craig Parkinson

Creator: Charlie Brooker

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Ex Machina

Best dramas on Netflix: Ex Machina movie

(Image credit: A24)

One of the best sci-fi movies in a while, Ex Machina explores the ramifications of robots that can beat the Turing test. While we enter the film with protagonist Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), the entire film is subsumed by the madness of Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac), a tech genius who welcomes Caleb into his house, the prize of winning a contest. While Isaac's performance is captivating and hypnotic before things get weird, the film truly opens up once we meet Ava, an intelligent creation of Bateman's, and we discover that his hobbies include 'playing god.' And you thought Mark Zuckerberg was creepy.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%

Stars: Domnhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander

Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga

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Beasts of No Nation

Available on Netflix U.S. and Netflix U.K.

Beasts of No Nation, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, is a wartime drama based on a novel by Uzodinma Iweala. It follows the story of a young boy, Agu, who is forced to join a group of soldiers during a civil war in a fictional African country. The film doesn't shy away from explicit, horrifying details of war or the impact it has on Agu as a child soldier.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%

Stars: Abraham Attah, Idris Elba

Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga

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Narcos

The war on drugs, as told from the point of view of one of its biggest villains — cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar — makes for incredibly compelling TV. But unlike Breaking Bad and Weeds, which deified their main characters, Narcos doesn't expend effort trying to garner our sympathy for Escobar. Its incredibly racy and violent tones, including archival footage to prove that this show is based on reality, will take it off the table for some, but seriously entice others.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 89%

Stars: Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook, Pedro Pascal

Creators: Chris Brancato, Carlos Bernard, Doug Miro

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Her

Her movie

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Writer-director Spike Jonze has a knack for making incredibly memorable films, as is the case with Her, where man dates voice. Yes, in this slightly-distant future, the Siris and Alexas of the world have evolved to life-partner status films, so sad sack Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) can spend his post-divorce years with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), who lives in his earpiece. Phoenix's haunted performance gives audiences something realistic to latch onto, as he tries to force himself to accept this world.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%

Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams

Director: Spike Jonze

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Halt and Catch Fire

The 'fire' in this show's title isn't an actual blaze, but if you give this slow-starter a chance, you'll get to bask in the glory of its brilliance. Over four increasingly improving seasons, 'Fire' tells a story built from the dawn of the personal computer, based on real examples of corporate espionage, as rivals sought to reverse engineer IBM's hardware. Lead actress Mackenzie Davis won massive kudos from critics for her performance.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%

Stars: Lee Pace, Mackenzie Davis, Scoot McNairy, Kerry Bishe

Creators: Christopher Cantwell, Christopher C. Rogers

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Blue Is the Warmest Color

Blue is the Warmest Color tells the story of a 15-year-old girl, Adèle, played by Adèle Exarchopoulos, who comes of age while dreaming of experiencing her first love. Things get complicated when a handsome male classmate falls for her, but she falls, in turn, for a mysterious, blue-haired girl (Léa Seydoux). It's based on a French graphic novel by Julie Maroh, and was awarded the highest prize attainable at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%

Stars: Adèle Exarchopoulos, Léa Seydoux

Director: Abdellatif Kechiche

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Sherlock

Best dramas on Netflix: Sherlock

(Image credit: Robert Viglasky/Harstwood Films for Masterpiece)

While the BBC's adaptation of the Arthur Conan Doyle detective novels isn't the only modernization of the adventures of Holmes and Watson, it's inarguably the best. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes) and Martin Freeman (Dr. John Watson), this series offers at least three seasons of excellent, pitch-perfect, detective work. I say 'at least' because after those aired, a Christmas special and fourth season aired to mixed reviews. You don't need to be a licensed detective, though, to know to treasure each episode, though, as each season has only three apiece.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 83%

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman

Creators: Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat

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Milk

This film is based on the true story of California's first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk, at a time when prejudice against LGBT people was societally acceptable. His victory was considered a victory for the gay community, and Milk himself is remembered as a champion of human rights. The film stars Sean Penn as Milk, and was penned by acclaimed writer Dustin Lance Black.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%

Stars: Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin

Director: Gus Van Sant

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Mad Men

Don Draper's a man of many problems: he's not faithful to his wife, he's an alcoholic and his identity isn't entirely his own. Those are the issues at the core of Mad Men, a 1960s drama series that focuses on ad industry executives and writers, and their families who suffer from a wide range of issues that all seem to stem from the workplace. Standout characters include copy writer Peggy Olson, who keeps making bad life choices until she finds her way and exec Roger Sterling, a portrait of a once prominent man on the decline.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%

Stars: Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Christina Hendricks

Creator: Matthew Weiner

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Breaking Bad

Best dramas on Netflix: Breaking Bad

(Image credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC)

Walter White's just a dad who teaches chemistry, until his diagnosis of cancer compels him to put his chemical genius to work making meth. And as fast as that sentence turned to a dark decision, the first seasons of Breaking Bad twist and turn at breakneck speeds with twist after twist and shocking decisions. The show is the one of the finest achievements for lead actor Bryan Cranston, who is supported by an amazing cast, including the criminally underrated Anna Gunn who plays Walter's wife, Skylar.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%

Stars: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn

Creator: Vince Gilligan

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Y Tu Mamá También

Y Tu Mamá También, which translates to "And Your Mother Too," is described by IMDb as a story in which,"in Mexico, two teenage boys and an attractive older woman embark on a road trip and learn a thing or two about life, friendship, sex, and each other." It's a critically acclaimed Mexican drama directed by Alfonso Cuarón and co-written by Cuarón and his brother Carlos.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%

Stars: Maribel Verdu, Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

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Broadchurch

This moody mystery series unravels the whodunit at its heart in a slow but gripping manner. Season 1 centers on the murder of an 11-year-old boy in a sleepy beach town on the English coast. Nearly everyone in town becomes a suspect, as detectives Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) sift through secrets and lies to solve the case. As the investigation gets more and more complicated, the grieving Latimer family attempts to piece their life back together. Seasons 2 and 3 are also excellent, and it's all due to the crackling chemistry between the lead actors.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%

Stars: David Tennant, Olivia Colman

Creator: Chris Chibnall

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