The 10 Greatest Courtroom Drama Movies

Action movies and thrillers are all very well, but when it comes to watching two Duke stars out on screen, you can’t beat courtroom dramas. Over the years, the courtroom has become an inescapable attraction for countless directors and screenwriters, and many an actor’s career has been won by a victory on the bench or the stand. Here are ten of the best courtroom dramas in film history.

10. Legacy of the Wind

Spencer Tracy had already won his two Academy Awards by the time he starred in Stanley Kramer’s 1960 masterpiece, but with stiff competition that year from the likes of Laurence Olivier and Burt Lancaster, his scintillating performance here could be his third reach part easily. Tracy plays a lawyer tasked with defending a school teacher responsible for teaching the theory of evolution in a sleepy Southern town. A thinly disguised retelling of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, Tracy is never better than in the central scene when he puts his victorious opponent (Fredric March) on the stand.

9. Erin Brockovich

This fictional account of the real-life PG&E groundwater contamination case that rocked California in the mid-1990s stars Julia Roberts as Brockovich, who brought legal proceedings against the electric company in 1993. Roberts won an Academy Award for her work in the role.

8. Roe vs. Wade

This 1989 TV movie lands differently in post-Roe vs. Wade America. The film stars Holly Hunter in an Emmy Award-winning turn as the woman whose unplanned pregnancy became the test case for the 1973 abortion rights lawsuit in the United States, and Amy Madigan is the all-time Golden Globe winner. performance as Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who brought the historic case to the Supreme Court.

7. Mauritania

From 2002 to 2016, Mohamedou Ould Slahi was held at Guantanamo Bay without charge. In this 2021 drama, Tahar Rahim does a great job as Slahi, and Jodie Foster won a Golden Globe as Nancy Holland, one of Slahi’s lawyers who worked tirelessly to get him released.

6. Morant’s break

Many say the Australian race came of age with Peter Weir’s 1981 World War I epic Gallipoli, but this 1980 Academy Award-nominated drama is destined for him. Golden Globe winner Edward Woodward is brilliant as the eponymous Morant, an English soldier tried in a military court for executing prisoners of war, while in the future Gorillas in the fog Bryan Brown stars as Morant’s co-accused.

5. Just Mercy

African-American lawyer Brian StevensonThis powerful 2019 drama was inspired by best-selling memoirs, starring Michael B. Jordan as Stevenson, Brie Larson as Stevenson’s business assistant, and Jamie Foxx as Walter McMillian, who spent years in real life chasing each other to death. because of a crime he committed. promise

4. The Caine Rebellion

Humphrey Bogart won the last of his three Academy Award nominations for his work in this 1954 drama as Queeg, the disciplined Navy officer who becomes paranoid and delusional while commanding a World War II destroyer. The film was a great success at the box office, although the US Navy, wary of a film about a mutiny aboard an American warship, was not convinced that its fake nature would be made clear.

3. A Few Good Men

Rob Reiner’s 1992 film could suffer from the strange performance of Tom Cruise and Demi Moore as two lawyers who come under the protection of two private Marines accused of murder. But the plot is tight. Jack Nicholson is very close as the cornerman who justifies bullying the greater good, and Kevin Pollak is excellent as a slightly older lawyer tasked with keeping Cruise and Moore on point.

2. Denial

Prior to the release of this 2016 drama, Mick Jackson was best known for directing the 1992 Kevin Costner vehicle. The Bodyguardbut Denial it’s a British director’s masterpiece. A true story about the 2000 Penguin Holocaust trial, the film stars Rachel Weisz as Deborah Lipstadt, an American history professor sued for libel in a British court by Holocaust denier David Irving (Timothy Spall). Andrew Scott is absolutely clinical as the hotshot attorney Anthony Julius, and Tom Wilkinson has never been better as Richard Rampton, the real-life lawyer sparring with Irving in court. Jackson’s restrained work, as well as the decision to only use dialogue taken from the actual transcripts for the courtroom scenes, combine to create a stunning assertion of the power of truth over falsehood.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird

This masterful adaptation of Harper Lee’s 1960 novel about the trial of a Black man accused of raping a white woman in a segregated Southern town retains its rhetorical power more than 60 years after its release. Gregory Peck won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his work as Atticus Finch, the defense lawyer, and Brock Peters is the epitome of dignity as the tragic defendant Tom Robinson.

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