Best Courtroom dramas

by mjhegger | created - 2 months ago | updated - 2 months ago | Public

Legal prosecutors and defense attorneys argue in pivotal and memorable stories about crime and guilt.

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1. Amistad (1997)

R | 155 min | Drama, History

63 Metascore

In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish owned ship causes a major controversy in the United States when the ship is captured off the coast of Long Island. The courts must decide whether the Mende are slaves or legally free.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Djimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey, Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman

Votes: 66,984 | Gross: $44.18M

2. 12 Angry Men (1957)

Not Rated | 96 min | Drama

96 Metascore

A jury holdout attempts to prevent a miscarriage of justice by forcing his colleagues to reconsider the evidence.

Director: Sidney Lumet | Stars: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler

Votes: 613,846 | Gross: $4.36M

3. A Few Good Men (1992)

R | 138 min | Drama, Thriller

62 Metascore

Military lawyer Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee defends Marines accused of murder. They contend they were acting under orders.

Director: Rob Reiner | Stars: Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon

Votes: 218,462 | Gross: $141.34M

4. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Not Rated | 129 min | Crime, Drama

88 Metascore

Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his children against prejudice.

Director: Robert Mulligan | Stars: Gregory Peck, John Megna, Frank Overton, Rosemary Murphy

Votes: 277,332

5. Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Not Rated | 161 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

95 Metascore

In a murder trial, the defendant says he suffered temporary insanity after the victim raped his wife. What is the truth, and will he win his case?

Director: Otto Preminger | Stars: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Arthur O'Connell

Votes: 55,087 | Gross: $11.90M

6. JFK (1991)

R | 189 min | Drama, History, Thriller

72 Metascore

New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison discovers there's more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story.

Director: Oliver Stone | Stars: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau

Votes: 132,709 | Gross: $70.41M

7. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

PG | 105 min | Drama

77 Metascore

Ted Kramer's wife leaves him, allowing for a lost bond to be rediscovered between Ted and his son, Billy. But a heated custody battle ensues over the divorced couple's son, deepening the wounds left by the separation.

Director: Robert Benton | Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander, Justin Henry

Votes: 120,942 | Gross: $106.26M

8. Primal Fear (1996)

R | 129 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

47 Metascore

An altar boy is accused of murdering a priest, and the truth is buried several layers deep.

Director: Gregory Hoblit | Stars: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Edward Norton, John Mahoney

Votes: 167,927 | Gross: $56.12M

9. The Verdict (1982)

R | 129 min | Drama

77 Metascore

A lawyer sees the chance to salvage his career and self-respect by taking a medical malpractice case to trial rather than settling.

Director: Sidney Lumet | Stars: Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden, James Mason

Votes: 32,982 | Gross: $54.00M

10. Inherit the Wind (1960)

Passed | 128 min | Biography, Drama, History

75 Metascore

Based on a real-life case in 1925, two great lawyers argue the case for and against a science teacher accused of the crime of teaching evolution.

Director: Stanley Kramer | Stars: Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gene Kelly, Dick York

Votes: 25,133

11. A Time to Kill (1996)

R | 149 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

54 Metascore

In Canton, Mississippi, a fearless young lawyer and his assistant defend a black man accused of murdering two white men who raped his ten-year-old daughter, inciting violent retribution and revenge from the Ku Klux Klan.

Director: Joel Schumacher | Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey

Votes: 121,491 | Gross: $108.77M

12. Philadelphia (1993)

PG-13 | 125 min | Drama

66 Metascore

When a man with HIV is fired by his law firm because of his condition, he hires a homophobic small time lawyer as the only willing advocate for a wrongful dismissal suit.

Director: Jonathan Demme | Stars: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Roberta Maxwell, Buzz Kilman

Votes: 209,858 | Gross: $77.32M

13. The Judge (2014)

R | 141 min | Crime, Drama

48 Metascore

Big-city lawyer Hank Palmer returns to his childhood home where his father, the town's judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth and, along the way, reconnects with his estranged family.

Director: David Dobkin | Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton

Votes: 165,947 | Gross: $47.12M

14. Erin Brockovich (2000)

R | 131 min | Biography, Drama

73 Metascore

An unemployed single mother becomes a legal assistant and almost single-handedly brings down a California power company accused of polluting a city's water supply.

Director: Steven Soderbergh | Stars: Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, David Brisbin, Dawn Didawick

Votes: 161,723 | Gross: $125.60M

15. Reversal of Fortune (1990)

R | 111 min | Biography, Drama, Mystery

93 Metascore

Wealthy Sunny von Bülow lies brain-dead, husband Claus guilty of attempted murder; but he says he's innocent and hires Alan Dershowitz for his appeal.

Director: Barbet Schroeder | Stars: Jeremy Irons, Glenn Close, Ron Silver, Annabella Sciorra

Votes: 13,515 | Gross: $15.45M

16. My Cousin Vinny (1992)

R | 120 min | Comedy, Crime

68 Metascore

Two New Yorkers are accused of murder in rural Alabama while on their way back to college, and one of their cousins--an inexperienced, loudmouth lawyer not accustomed to Southern rules and manners--comes in to defend them.

Director: Jonathan Lynn | Stars: Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei, Ralph Macchio, Mitchell Whitfield

Votes: 98,406 | Gross: $52.93M

17. The Accused (1988)

R | 111 min | Crime, Drama

65 Metascore

After a young woman suffers a brutal gang rape in a bar one night, a prosecutor assists in bringing the perpetrators to justice, including the ones who encouraged and cheered on the attack.

Director: Jonathan Kaplan | Stars: Kelly McGillis, Jodie Foster, Bernie Coulson, Leo Rossi

Votes: 29,451 | Gross: $32.07M

18. The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)

R | 129 min | Biography, Drama

79 Metascore

The story of a controversial pornography publisher and how he became a defender of free speech.

Director: Milos Forman | Stars: Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love, Edward Norton, Brett Harrelson

Votes: 83,506 | Gross: $20.19M

19. Michael Clayton (2007)

R | 119 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

82 Metascore

A law firm brings in its "fixer" to remedy the situation after a lawyer has a breakdown while representing a chemical company that he knows is guilty in a multibillion-dollar class action suit.

Director: Tony Gilroy | Stars: George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Michael O'Keefe

Votes: 150,030 | Gross: $49.03M

20. The Hurricane (1999)

R | 146 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

74 Metascore

The story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a boxer wrongly imprisoned for murder, and the people who aided in his fight to prove his innocence.

Director: Norman Jewison | Stars: Denzel Washington, Vicellous Shannon, Deborah Kara Unger, Liev Schreiber

Votes: 87,266 | Gross: $50.67M

21. Side Effects (I) (2013)

R | 106 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

75 Metascore

A young woman's world unravels when a drug prescribed by her psychiatrist has unexpected side effects.

Director: Steven Soderbergh | Stars: Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Votes: 170,959 | Gross: $32.17M

22. Fracture (2007)

R | 113 min | Crime, Drama

68 Metascore

An attorney intent on climbing the career ladder toward success, finds an unlikely opponent in a manipulative criminal he is trying to prosecute.

Director: Gregory Hoblit | Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling, David Strathairn, Rosamund Pike

Votes: 172,560 | Gross: $39.02M

23. Liar Liar (1997)

PG-13 | 86 min | Comedy, Fantasy

70 Metascore

A fast-track lawyer can't lie for 24 hours due to his son's birthday wish after he disappoints his son for the last time.

Director: Tom Shadyac | Stars: Jim Carrey, Maura Tierney, Amanda Donohoe, Jennifer Tilly

Votes: 264,495 | Gross: $181.41M

24. Basic Instinct (1992)

R | 127 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

41 Metascore

A violent police detective investigates a brutal murder that might involve a manipulative and seductive novelist.

Director: Paul Verhoeven | Stars: Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, George Dzundza, Jeanne Tripplehorn

Votes: 159,446 | Gross: $117.73M

25. Presumed Innocent (1990)

R | 127 min | Mystery, Thriller

72 Metascore

As a lawyer investigates the murder of a colleague, he finds himself more connected to the crime than anyone else.

Director: Alan J. Pakula | Stars: Harrison Ford, Raul Julia, Greta Scacchi, Brian Dennehy

Votes: 35,076 | Gross: $86.30M

26. A Civil Action (1998)

PG-13 | 115 min | Drama

68 Metascore

A tenacious lawyer takes on a case involving a major company responsible for causing several people to be diagnosed with leukemia due to the town's water supply being contaminated, at the risk of bankrupting his firm and career.

Director: Steven Zaillian | Stars: John Travolta, Robert Duvall, Kathleen Quinlan, Tony Shalhoub

Votes: 26,142 | Gross: $56.70M

27. Rules of Engagement (2000)

R | 128 min | Drama, Thriller, War

45 Metascore

An attorney defends an officer on trial for ordering his troops to fire on civilians after they stormed a U.S. embassy in a Middle Eastern country.

Director: William Friedkin | Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley

Votes: 42,370 | Gross: $61.34M

28. High Crimes (2002)

PG-13 | 115 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

48 Metascore

High powered lawyer Claire Kubik finds her world turned upside down when her husband, who has been living under a false name, is arrested by military police and placed on trial for the murder of villagers while he was in the Marines.

Director: Carl Franklin | Stars: Jim Caviezel, Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Adam Scott

Votes: 36,432 | Gross: $41.54M

29. Double Jeopardy (1999)

R | 105 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

40 Metascore

A woman framed for her husband's murder suspects he is still alive; as she has already been tried for the crime, she can't be re-prosecuted if she finds and kills him.

Director: Bruce Beresford | Stars: Ashley Judd, Tommy Lee Jones, Bruce Greenwood, Benjamin Weir

Votes: 67,307 | Gross: $116.74M

30. Devil's Knot (2013)

Not Rated | 114 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

42 Metascore

The savage murders of three young children sparks a controversial trial of three teenagers accused of killing the kids as part of a Satanic ritual.

Director: Atom Egoyan | Stars: Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, Alessandro Nivola, James Hamrick

Votes: 19,049



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