Best Court room drama films.
written by Souranath Banerjee
Back in 1928 director Carl Theodor Dreyer made an epic film The Passion of Joan of Arc and although the movie was unique in many other aspects but it was also probably the first ever cinema to showcase the dramatization inside a court room.
And since then, there has been several brilliant contributions made to the ‘courtroom drama’ genre.
The Judge, the jury, the lawyer, the accused and the witnesses. Guilty or Not guilty?
Sometimes the primary focus is on the lawyer’s intellect and determination while other films deal more with the accused or the suspense of the final verdict.
The list below consists of some of the best Courtroom drama films ever made.
So, Order! Order!
10. 12 Angry Men (1957)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7CBKT0PWFA
When you say ‘courtroom drama’, the first film that comes to your mind is this one, and why not?
An epic film directed by Sidney Lumet featuring a murder trail where 12 jury members have to come to a decision unanimously.
Almost shot inside a single room, 12 characters and their unique approach to the case. Henry Fonda‘s best role.
Another brilliant film by the same director on this genre is The Verdict (1982). A must watch.
9. The Paradine Case (1947)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGt4VvcSfjU
Not one of his best suspense thrillers, but nevertheless Alfred Hitchcock‘s contribution to the courtroom drama genre.
A lawyer risks his own marriage and reputation as he falls for the beautiful female client accused of murdering her own husband!
Gregory Peck, Ann Todd, Charles Laughton and Oscar nominated Ethel Barrymore all at their best.
8. Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsVN1hv9D5c
This time it’s director Billy Wilder who joins the courtroom drama.
Brilliant performances by Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton.
The film’s suspense is so vital that the audience before entering the hall had to sign, cards that read, ‘I solemnly swear I will not reveal the ending of Witness for the Prosecution.’!
7. Primal Fear (1996)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnmTi7hSjrA
A priest murdered and an alter boy is accused for killing him. But the real truth is not what it seems to be.
Directed by Gregory Hoblit, this one is a superb drama with some pretty unexpected twists.
Richard Gere and Laura Linney give awesome performances but the one to look for in the film is Edward Norton, a star was born.
Another cool film by the same director on this genre is Fracture (2007). A good watch.
6. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfOgZXIQ6fo
Four Nazi judges are to be judged for their war crimes, but before the cold-war people are willing to forget the past very easily.
Director Stanley Kramer creates this terrific American courtroom in occupied Germany of 1948 and tells the intense tale of judgement.
Probably the film of most historical significance in this list.
Another awesome film by the same director on this genre is Inherit the Wind (1960)
5. Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAVLvGP25uQ
Can temporary insanity be the reason for committing murder?
My favorite actor James Stewart gives a great performance along with Lee Remick and Ben Gazzara.
Directed by Otto Preminger, there was controversy because the film uses words like ‘bitch’, ‘contraceptive’, ‘panties’, ‘penetration’, ‘rape, ‘slut’ and ‘sperm’ for the first time on screen!
4. Philadelphia (1993)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cl4B9AU45P4
Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Roberta Maxwell all together in this superb drama.
A lawyer takes the case of a man who press charges on his employee on the ground that he was fired just because he had AIDS.
Directed by Jonathan Demme, this is one remarkable film based on a true incident.
3. …And Justice for All. (1979)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQzYNoLANrg
‘You’re out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They’re out of order!’
One of Al Pacino‘s classics, a film that is intense and indeed makes you doubt the true meaning of justice.
A lawyer is forced to defend a judge who seems to be guilty.
Directed by Norman Jewison, one of the best court drama ever made.
2. The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFwE3UgCMIk
A wealthy client, a talented defense lawyer with a conscience and then there is a full proof plan to beat the system!
Matthew McConaughey at his best as usual along with Marisa Tomei and Ryan Phillippe.
Directed by Brad Furman this one is one of the best court dramas of recent times.
- A Few Good Men (1992)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePo91pMcu94
Directed by master director Rob Reiner, this film has one thrilling court drama.
A Navy lawyer determined to defend two Marines who have been accused of murdering a colleague. But things doesn’t look as simple as they are.
Great performances by Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon – you can’t miss this one.
and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most unique one. A must watch).
+1. OMG: Oh My God! (2012)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nUwpoTrWFk
An earthquake destroys an atheist shopkeeper’s shop and so he takes God to the courtroom.
Directed by Umesh Shukla, a film that is so innovative and probably the only film that so aptly deals with commercialization of religion in our current social scenario.
Akshay Kumar, Paresh Rawal and Mithun Chakraborty – couldn’t have been better on the performance basis.
Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com, http://www.koimoi.com and www.bollywoodmdb.com.