What are the Best “Courtroom” Movies of all Time?

Happy New Year everyone! As the new year kicks off, with COVID and bad weather on the rise, it might be a good time to stay home and watch a movie.

With this in mind, Newsweek Magazine has compiled a list of their favorite “courtroom dramas” of all time.

Here is their list with a brief plot synopsis of each film –

  1. Twelve Angry Men (1957)

A young boy is on trial for the alleged murder of his father. The jury reaches its initial conclusion quickly, until Juror 8 demands an in-depth deliberation.

Originally broadcast in 1954 as a television play, written by Reginald Rose, it was adapted into this film, directed by Sidney Lumet, in 1957.

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Defense attorney Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck), represents Tom Robinson, a Black man who has been accused of raping a young white woman. He asks the members of the jury to reach a verdict based on the evidence presented, not on prejudice against Black people in 1930s America.

  1. A Few Good Men (1992)

The court-martial of two U.S. Marines charged with the murder of a colleague and the work of their lawyers as they take on the army establishment. Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson are both at their best here.

  1. My Cousin Vinny(1992)

Two young men go on trial for a murder, but are unable to afford a defense lawyer and hire their cousin Vinny, who has just passed his bar exam.

Joe Pesci is excellent as Vinny, and so is Marisa Tomei in an Oscar-winning supporting role as Vinny’s girlfriend. This film is hilarious at times.

  1. Primal Fear(1996)

Troubled altar boy (Edward Norton) with a personality disorder, convinces hot shot Chicago defense attorney (Richard Gere) to defend him in a murder case. Look out for the perfect twist ending!

  1. Legally Blonde(2001)

Fashionable and naive Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon), is dumped by her boyfriend but she decides to follow him to law school. While there, she finds her inner confidence and proves that women can be in touch with their feminine side and also be brainy and successful in their careers.

  1. Runaway Jury(2003)

A widow decides to sue a gun manufacturer on the grounds that the company’s gross negligence led to her husband’s death. During the trial, a juror on the inside and a woman on the outside will attempt to manipulate the outcome.

Newsweek then listed three legal-focused television shows, which seems like a bit of a cheat:

  1. How to Get Away with Murder(2014-2020)
  2. The Good Wife(2009-2016)
  3. The Good Fight(2017)

No offense to the movies above as many of them are truly great films, but where on the list is the classic “Witness for the Prosecution” (1957) or “The Verdict” (1982), a film which features Paul Newman’s most underrated performance?

You can read the entire article here.

And as we enter a new year, please take a look here at our online catalog, updated each month with new CLE courses in just about every possible area of law.