The 8 Best Nordic Noir Dramas on Netflix and Amazon Prime
Nordic dramas have a unique feel to them, with dark settings, slow-building plots, and shocking conclusions. The cold of the austere landscapes seeps into your bones as deeply held secrets come to light. The veneer of normalcy is torn away to reveal sinister truths hiding beneath everyday life.
For fans of Nordic noir, nothing else will do.
Which is why we have compiled a list of the best Nordic dramas, both foreign language hits and those inspired by them, that you can stream on Netflix and Amazon Prime. So grab a blanket, turn off the lights, and settle down with one of these great Scandinavian noir movies or TV shows.
Marcella is a British noir inspired by Nordic dramas, but it has strong credentials due to the fact that it’s written, directed, and produced by Hans Rosenfeldt, the man behind the awesome and famous Scandi series The Bridge.
Here, the titular protagonist is Marcella Backland, played by Anna Friel. She’s a former detective who is drawn back to her work to investigate an unknown serial killer who seems to be killing once again.
Marcella is an excellent detective, but she does have personal problems. It’s rare to have a show with a strong female character that is allowed to have flaws, and this is well worth watching.
Set over a period of six days, this Norwegian thriller follows an uncompromising journalist who uncovers some dark evidence about his own brother. He goes to print with it, but soon finds himself entangled in a mystery that takes over his life.
Mammon goes into the world of politics and banking, exposing the corruption that bubbles on the surface, which is all suitably cliché. However, there are plenty of surprises along the way to keep things engaging. Everyone here seems to have dark secrets and it’s only a matter of time before they’re exposed.
Bouncing between scenic locales like Oslo and Bergen, and supported by some outstanding performances, Mammon shows that the Norwegians are more than capable of producing gripping drama.
British TV (check out BritBox and Acorn TV for more) has produced a slew of great Nordic-style shows over the past few years, and Fortitude is one of them. A murder shocks a small, remote Norwegian town near the Arctic Circle, and, of course, everything starts unraveling after that.
Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon, Christopher Eccleston, Richard Dormer, Sofie Gråbøl, and Dennis Quaid provide all-star backing to this show, but even the minor characters are well-crafted.
If you’re looking for a slow-burning, suspenseful trip into the deep Arctic snows, you can’t go wrong with Fortitude. There are two seasons available on Amazon Prime.
Deadwind is a Finnish crime drama that centers around Sofia Karppi, a young police detective who has found herself recently widowed and left with two children. While dealing with that at home, she’s also investigating the murder of a social affairs consultant in Helsinki.
Deadwind has all the grim, brooding atmosphere that you come to expect from Scandi dramas. At first the killing that Sofia is investigating seems to be random, but she quickly discovers that there are bigger powers at play.
It’s enjoyable to slowly piece together the puzzle as the episodes progress, boasting a heavy focus on character and setting that you’ll love if you’re a fan of the genre.
5. Tin Star
In Tin Star, Tim Roth plays a police detective called Jim Worth who, along with his wife and children, has moved from London to a small Canadian town to try to escape his violent past. However, it isn’t long before everything he’s trying to flee comes catching up: murder, deceit and twists are all around the corner and ready to make their mark.
The remote, desolate locations bring that wonderful Nordic vibe, as do the mysteries that untangle through the episodes. While Jim is battling his own demons, an oil company has invaded the town and his daughter falls for a troublesome youth. Try as he might, Jim can’t escape the bloodshed.
When Bordertown first aired in its native Finland, over a fifth of the country’s population watched it. It’s no surprise: the story is captivating, it’s beautifully shot, and it’s very skillfully led by Ville Virtanen as quirky, Sherlock-like detective Kari Sorjonen.
Sorjonen is working for the National Bureau of Investigation in Finland when his wife only just survives cancer. Hoping for a more peaceful life, the family uproot to near the Russian border. However, things don’t go according to plan, as he uncovers sex trafficking, drug trading, and more shadiness.
The murders uncovered are all connected to one another, but also to Sorjonen’s family. So much for the quiet he wanted. But it’s all the better for the creepy, claustrophobic thrills that we get to enjoy.
Iceland may be known for its remarkably low murder rate (less than two per year, on average), but it’s a perfect setting for a Nordic noir murder mystery. A limbless, headless corpse appears in the harbor, and a storm ensures that no one can leave the small Icelandic town. It’s up to the three-person police department to solve the crime.
Trapped was made especially poignant because it paralleled one of the few real murder mysteries in Icelandic history, as recounted by The New York Times. If you like hearing about real-life crimes, check out these fascinating true crime podcasts .
The conflicted and jaded detective, bleak backdrops, and horrible secrets held by seemingly mundane people make this a shining example of Nordic drama. The first season is available now on Amazon Prime.
Another example of the best of British crime dramas , Broadchurch is an exquisitely paced, intricately plotted exploration of a small-town murder. David Tennant is, as usual, on cracking form, and both Olivia Colman and Jodie Whittaker contribute phenomenal performances.
While the murder of a boy is the primary plot driver, there’s much more to this show. Viewers will see what suspicion, attention, grief, and rebuilding do to the town and its residents.
The show is highly awarded, with Colman receiving Best Actress at the 2014 BAFTA awards. The dreary British backdrop—punctuated with gorgeous architecture and seaside vistas—are a perfect setting for this gripping story.
Embrace the Darkness, Start Streaming Scandi Noir
Scandinavian noir is full of the darkness hiding behind the façade of everyday life. But there are glimpses of light, too. You just have to dig through the bodies to find them.
These movies and TV shows are great examples of Nordic drama, and all can be streamed on Netflix or Amazon Prime as soon as you finish reading this article.
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