2021 Drama Genre Films

A list and a quick overview of 2021’s Oscar-nominated Drama movies.

The Father (5 Stars)

Promising Young Woman (4.5 * )

Quo Vadis, Aida? (4.5 * )

Another Round (4 * )

Da 5 Bloods (4 * )

Emma. (4 * )

Greyhound (4 * )

Judas and the Black Messiah (4 * )

Mank (4 Stars)

The Midnight Sky (4 * )

One Night in Miami (4 * )

Sound of Metal (4 * )

Trial of the Chicago 7 (4 * )

The United States vs Billie Holiday

Better Days (3.5 * )

The Man Who Sold His Skin (3.5 * )

Minari (3.5 * )

News of the World (3.5 * )

Nomadland (3.5 * )

Pieces of a Woman (3.5 * )

The White Tiger (3.5 * )

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (3 * )

Onward (3 *)

Mulan (2.5 * )

Pinocchio (2.5 * )

Hillbilly Elegy (2 * )

The Life Ahead (1.5 * )

The One and Only Ivan (1.5 * )

The Drama genre is the most populated one and it is like that every year.  With 28 out of the 41 nominated movies classified as drama, it is a pretty broad category so defining it is either really easy, or really hard depending on how you want to look at it.  The thirteen films that did not make it into this category include all 5 documentaries, which pretty much means that dramas are intended as fictional stories (although this isn’t an ironclad rule as last year’s Honeyland was a true story that was also counted as drama.). Also four of this year’s five animated feature films weren’t counted as documentaries, although exactly why Onward was considered a drama and Soul wasn’t isn’t clear to me either.

Sometimes we think of comedy and drama being mutually exclusive categories.  And Love & Monsters, Eurovision Song Contest…, and the Borat film were all listed in the comedy category but weren’t considered dramas.  But Mank, Emma., Another Round, and The One and Only Ivan ended up in both categories, so go figure.  

In the end, it seems that this genre is, like a lot of classification boxes, somewhat arbitrary and it may not be possible to come up with hard and fast rules for inclusion or exclusion.  But, if you are looking for a good dramatic film experience then I would simply suggest you look at any of the films I rated 3.5 * or more – and there are more than 20 of them.  The top three (The Father, Promising Young Woman, and Quo Vadis, Aida) are about as different as you can get, but they all give a good taste of dramatic cinema.

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