There have been many movies made about the the illicit drug trade and law enforcement’s effort to stamp it out. However, while many of these films have received average or mixed reviews from the critics, a few have been almost universally acclaimed. Here are seven critically acclaimed films that feature some aspect of the drug trade as a major component of their storylines. While all of the movies included on this list have achieved a Certified Fresh seal of approval from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes, the films are ordered according to their critical scores, from lowest to highest.
7. American Gangster (2007)
American Gangster features a character that is based on a real-life drug lord. In this film, the villain is Frank Lucas, a North Carolina native who ran a heroin smuggling operation from New York City’s Harlem neighborhood during the 1970s. Directed by Ridley Scott, the film’s impressive cast includes Denzel Washington as Frank Lucas, Russell Crowe as Det. Richie Roberts, Ruby Dee as Mahalee Lucas, Josh Brolin as Det. Nick Trupo, Idris Elba as Tango, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Huey Lucas.
American Gangster was widely praised by many prominent film critics, including Roger Ebert, who gave the film four stars and called it “an engrossing story, told smoothly and well.” The film garnered two Academy Award nominations in 2008, including a Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role nomination for Ruby Dee. American Gangster currently has an 80% Certified Fresh rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
6. Scarface (1983)
Any list of movies about the drug trade would be remiss if it didn’t include Scarface, director Brian De Palma’s remake of a 1932 gangster film of the same name. In the film, Cuban refugees Tony Montana (Al Pacino) and best friend Manny Ray (Steven Bauer) takeover the burgeoning cocaine trade in 1980s-era Miami, Florida. Michelle Pfeiffer costars as Montana’s drug-addled trophy wife Elvira Hancock, while Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio plays Montana’s sister Gina.
Although the film’s over-the-top violence and prolific use of the f-word initially repulsed many critics, the film has since become a cult classic and its highly quotable dialogue (written by Oliver Stone) is widely referenced in music, video games, and other movies. Scarface currently has an 84% Certified Fresh rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
5. Trainspotting (1996)
Trainspotting, a Danny Boyle-directed film about a group of misfit heroin addicts in Edinburgh, Scotland, was almost unanimously hailed by the critics when it when it was released in 1996. The Guardian’s film critic Derek Malcolm called the film “an extraordinary achievement and a breakthrough British film.” Although it failed to win any Academy Awards, the film garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published in 1997.
While the story told in Trainspotting is mostly about drug users rather than drug dealers, one of the film’s pivotal scenes involves the main characters completing a major heroin sale to a dealer. The film’s cast includes Ewan McGregor (in his breakout role), Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Kevin McKidd, and Kelly Macdonald. Trainspotting has maintained its status over the years and currently has an 89% Certified Fresh rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
4. City of God (2003)
Set in the impoverished favelas of Rio de Janeiro, this Fernando Meirelles-directed film tells the story of several friends who take different paths to survive the drug-fueled gang violence in their neighborhood. While most of the characters become involved in the drug trade or fall victim to the endemic violence of the favelas, Buscapé (Alexandre Rodrigues) leverages his natural talent for photography as a means of escape.
Many critics hailed the raw authenticity of the film, including Roger Ebert, who wrote, “’City of God’ does not exploit or condescend, does not pump up its stories for contrived effect, does not contain silly and reassuring romantic sidebars, but simply looks, with a passionately knowing eye, at what it knows.” City of God was nominated for four Oscars at the 2004 Academy Awards and the film currently has a 90% Certified Fresh rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.water dragon jutsu can dogs eat dragon fruit girl with the dragon tattoo series dragon ball fire emblem: shadow dragon welsh dragon anthro dragon dragon ball movies dragon prince season 4 release date dragon village cast of raya and the last dragon bearded dragon tank setup dragon lizard watch dragon ball z dragon back tattoo tail of the dragon map madagascar dragon tree dragon ball super manga dragon tail year of the dragon golden dragon chinese food jennie and g dragon game of thrones dragon spacex dragon raya and the last dragon lucoa dragon form dragon age origins mods dragon ball series order toothless how to train your dragon war dragon shrek dragon ender dragon dragon scale alocasia eastern dragon dragon li raya and the last dragon trailer golden dragon city el dragon dragon software dragon ball xenoverse how to train your dragon toothless dragon ball super movie 2022 dragon dictation hydra dragon bulma dragon ball dragon fruit smoothie dragon quest build how to train your dragon dragon names dragon pan shadow dragon dragon head golden dragon sweepstakes golden dragon app dragon quest wiki disney dragon movie dragon plush ice dragon dragon scale armor dragon painting angry dragon dragon game pete's dragon dragon quest build komodo dragon venom dragon ball toys dragon inn pink dragon dragon ball z funko pop watch raya and the last dragon how to train your dragon dragon sword happy dragon menu black rose dragon dragon ball tv series flying dragon sisu raya and the last dragon young red dragon 5e how to watch dragon ball in order dragon ball z kakarot dlc 3 lego dragon dragon warrior how to train your dragon: the hidden world cast dragon ball z background dragon roll sushi lucky dragon net login dragon costumes dragon ball tattoo raya and the last dragon release date dragon ball z flying dragon nikita dragon kobayashi dragon maid season 2 great dragon dragon the bruce lee story dragon fruit drink starbucks what does dragon fruit taste like dragon mask dragon demons dragon man golden dragon restaurant toothless dragon