The 10 best American drama movies include some gems made over the course of several decades. American dramas influence world cinema and a list of the ten best includes some films that inspired sequels certainly on a par with the originals. A host of different directors and a cast of amazing actors carry these best American dramas into posterity. Most have been restored and saved as part of a national program of film conservation. 

  1. "The Godfather." The Godfather series is certainly the best American drama series. As the title implies, the movie follows the story of a family of members of organized criminals. Each film stands alone and this early entry sets the tone for the remainder of the films. Francis Ford Coppola directed this 1972 classic starring the late great Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and James Caan

  2. "Schindler's List." Steven Speilberg brings the real life story of Oskar Schindler to life in this film account of a man saving Jews from the Nazi killers. The 1993 shows the horrific treatment of Jews and the plight to escape persecution in pre-World War II German-controlled territory. 

  3. "To Kill a Mockingbird." Harper Lee's novel comes to life in this best American drama movie about discrimination in the United States. The 1962 film stars Gregory Peck as the attorney defending a man falsely accused of a crime based simply on his race. Look for a young Robert Duvall in the role as "Boo" Radley. 

  4. "Taxi Driver." Robert De Niro's portrayal of the taxi driver in this 1976 best drama movie directed by Martin Scorsese set the bar high for later actors. Jodie Foster, before her career as a director and producer, plays the young prostitute that De Niro befriends. A shocking look at the life on the mean streets for an unstable veteran unable to cope with his own internal demons. 

  5. "Chinatown." The stars came together on this best American drama movie. Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston, under the direction of Roman Polanski, take the movie goer on a trip into Chinatown, where we know that nothing ever good awaits us. Turns out, disaster waits for us in the Chinatown depicted in this modern noir movie. 

  6. "Apocalypse Now." The horrors of war and the impact on men in war is the theme of this 1979 film based on the book "Heart of Darkness" about the Congo. Francis Ford Coppola again takes the directorial role for the stars, including Robert Duvall, Marlon Brando and a young, tormented Martin Sheen. Although the war is Vietnam, the narrative applies to any war situation. 

  7. "A Clockwork Orange." Watch out for the real-life droog, a name for a friend, sent into experimental treatment to reduce his propensity for violence. Malcolm McDowell plays the head droog and John Clive and Aubrey Morris also star in this drama movie directed in 1971 by the late, great Stanley Kubrick

  8. "Modern Times." Charlie Chaplin stars and directs himself in this 1936 movie that also stars Paulette Goddard, a woman Chaplin attempts to help lift out of poverty. Chaplin targets the machine-like work environment that reduces the employee to a mere part of the machine. 

  9. "Unforgiven." This modern noir western tells the tale on the American West. Clint Eastwood stars and directs and Morgan Freeman stars in a supporting role. The dark western drama has an uplifting message, even though the film involves death and suffering. 

  10. "In Cold Blood." This 1960s film starred Robert Blake in a true story of two ruthless men who fail in a home robbery attempt and execute the family when riches aren't found in the house. Truman Capote's book is the basis for the best American drama movie. The film was remade in 2005.