Court dramas have fascinated the public eye from the days of radio news. Not everyone can get a front-row seat to a real-life dramatic case, and many have no desire to. In real-life court proceedings, so much policy and rules go into the process; it's often less than entertaining. Court themed movies and shows eliminate some of the more tedious parts off a trial while offering the thrilling aspects. There are hundreds of court case movies, that can be hard to sift through. Here are some of the top-ranked (based upon ratings from IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, and public reviews) court case movies to watch:
10. A Few Good Men
A Few Good Men starred Demi Moore, Jack Nicholson, and Tom cruise and was released in 1992. The movie follows Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, a Navy lawyer who has never been in a courtroom. He is tasked with defending two stubborn Marines who have been charged with murdering a colleague. The defense case is built upon the fact that the deceased was given a CODE RED and was a non-tolerated screw-up. The movie is a thought-provoking drama full of tense scenes and incredible acting.
9. Anatomy of Murder
The Anatomy of Murder is a 1959 film directed by Otto Preminger. The basis of the film is a murder trial where the defendant claims temporary insanity after the deceased raped his wife. The defense's case is decidedly weak, with little to no support for the rape claim. The defendant's lawyer races against time to find evidence that will save his client and prove that he didn't intend to murder the victim.
8. In Cold Blood
In Cold Blood is a movie adaptation of the novel by the same name, written by Truman Capote. The movie opens with a botched robbery that ends with the violent murder of a rural family. The story follows ex-cons Perry Smith and Dick Hickock as they attempt to avoid capture and come to terms with their actions.
7. Paths of Glory
Paths of Glory is a wartime court drama directed by Stanley Kubrick. The movie takes place during World War 1 in the trenches of the French army. After a soldier refuses to attack an enemy position, a general accuses him of cowardice, and the soldiers commanding officer must defend him in court.
6. A Time To Kill
A Time To Kill stars Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, and Samuel L. Jackson. The storyline follows the trial of an African-American father whose 10-year-old daughter was brutalized by two caucasian men, who her father ended up murdering. The court case is watched by the whole town and even incites retribution by the KKK. The movie is an incredible commentary on racial conflict in small towns and what justice for all truly means.
5. Judgment at Nuremberg
Judgment at Nuremberg is a trial centric movie that takes place four years after many of the major Nazi leaders have been tried. The film is about four nazi judges who used their offices to conduct Nazi sterilization and cleansing policies for the previous ruling regime. The Cold War begins to heat up, and no one wants trials to occur in Germany. The tribunal must decide whether they move on or continue to administer justice.
4. The People vs. OJ Simpson
The People vs. OJ Simpson isn't a traditional movie, but a Netflix limited series following the events surrounding and during the OJ Simpson Trial in 1995. The series begins with the police finding the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. The story bounces between the different point-of-views of the defense, the prosecution, and the defendant. The series stars Sterling K. Brown, David Schwimmer, John Travolta, and Cuba Gooding Jr.
3. 12 Angry Men
12 Angry Men follows the story of a jury holdout and a jury member who is desperately trying to convince his colleagues to review the evidence presented. The storyline begins with the defense and prosecution, both resting and a jury trying to decide the fate of a young man who is accused of murdering his father. What starts out as a simple decision turns into a detective case as they race to make a decision.
2. Inherit The Wind
Inherit The Wind is based upon a real-life case, The Scopes-Monkey Trial, that took place during the 1920s. The case follows two prolific lawyers as they argue the case for a science teacher who is accused of committing a crime by teaching evolution in class.
1. To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird is possibly one of the most famous fictional court dramas of the 20th and 21st centuries. The movie is based on a classic of the same name written by Harper Lee. The story focuses on Atticus Finch, played by the prolific Gregory Peck, and his children as he defends an African-American of a false rape charge. The film focuses on the themes of justice, prejudice, and honor.
Justice is a popular theme in both literature and film. It captures our attention, causes us to question our morality, and can even tug at our heartstrings. If you love court cases and are looking for exceptional stylized films, start with this list of popular movies for your film journey.
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