Entertainment

The Greatest Legal Dramas Ever Made  

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Originally by Ranker Community
2.4k votes 338 voters 28.4k views 46 items

List Rules Must deal with courtroom drama

A good courtroom drama can be suspenseful, heartbreaking, hopeful, smart, and even action packed if done well. The American legal system is so compelling that scores of drama movies have been made about it. From the David vs. Goliath lawsuit movies to those about defense attorneys defending an innocent man, the modern legal drama is often a testament to good acting and great filmmaking. Here are the best of the courtroom movie genre as selected by you, the user. Just vote up the movies you love or, even better, add your own list with commentary and video.

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Jack Lemmon, James Gandolfini, Tony Danza
12 Angry Men is a 1997 television film directed by William Friedkin, adapted from the Reginald Rose teleplay of the same title. It is a remake of the film of 1957.
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Robert Duvall, Gregory Peck, William Windom
To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1962 American drama film directed by Robert Mulligan. The screenplay by Horton Foote was based on the 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Harper Lee. ...more

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#100 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimefeaturing 'To Kill a Mockingbird' Quotes That'll Change How You Thinklisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Jack Nicholson
A Few Good Men is a 1992 American legal drama film directed by Rob Reiner, based on the play by Aaron Sorkin. Military lawyer Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) defends Marines accused of ...more

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#86 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimefeaturing The Real Story That 'A Few Good Men' Is Based On Is More Shocking And Violent Than The Actual Movielisted on The Highest Grossing 90s Movies

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Marisa Tomei, Joe Pesci, Ralph Macchio
My Cousin Vinny is a 1992 American comedy film written by Dale Launer and directed by Jonathan Lynn. The film stars Joe Pesci, Ralph Macchio, Marisa Tomei, Mitchell Whitfield, Lane Smith, Bruce ...more

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#71 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimefeaturing Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'My Cousin Vinny'listed on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Edward Norton, Richard Gere, Laura Linney
Primal Fear is a 1996 American neo-noir thriller film, based on William Diehl's 1993 novel of the same name and directed by Gregory Hoblit. The film tells the story of Chicago defense attorney ...more

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#19 of 257 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #257 of 347 The Best Movies Based On Books #5 of 24 The Best Movies with Twist Endings

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Bruce Willis, Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling
The Verdict is a 1982 courtroom drama film that tells the story of a down-on-his-luck alcoholic lawyer who takes a medical malpractice case to improve his own situation, but discovers along the ...more

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#267 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #248 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #75 of 241 The Most Inspirational Movies Ever

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Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Julius Erving
Philadelphia is a 1993 American drama film and one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV/AIDS, homosexuality, and homophobia. It was written by Ron Nyswaner, directed by ...more

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#431 of 719 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #128 of 291 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Crylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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willyboymcoy added Judy Garland, William Shatner, Marlene Dietrich
Judgment at Nuremberg is a 1961 American drama film dealing with the Holocaust and with the post-WWII geo-political complexity of the Nuremberg Trials. The picture was written by Abby Mann and ...more

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#38 of 220 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time #794 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Rachel Weisz, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman
Runaway Jury is a 2003 American thriller film directed by Gary Fleder and starring John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, and Rachel Weisz. It is an adaptation of John Grisham's novel The ...more

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#213 of 347 The Best Movies Based On Books #211 of 265 The Best Ensemble Movies #13 of 23 The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies

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James Stewart, George C. Scott, Lee Remick
This film is a 1959 American courtroom drama film. It was directed by Otto Preminger and adapted by Wendell Mayes from the best-selling novel of the same name written by Michigan Supreme Court ...more
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Julia Roberts, Marg Helgenberger, Aaron Eckhart
Erin Brockovich is a 2000 biographical film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Susannah Grant. The film is a dramatization of the true story of Erin Brockovich, portrayed by Julia ...more

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#120 of 231 The Best Movies for Women #23 of 239 The Best Movies Based on True Storieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Meryl Streep, Dustin Hoffman, JoBeth Williams
Kramer vs. Kramer is a 1979 American drama film adapted by Robert Benton from the novel by Avery Corman, and directed by Benton. The film tells the story of a married couple's divorce and its ...more

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#53 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies #741 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Harrison Ford, Brian Dennehy, Raúl Juliá
Presumed Innocent is a 1990 legal drama. It is a film adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name by Scott Turow, which tells the story of a prosecutor and his female colleague and ...more

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#229 of 347 The Best Movies Based On Books #182 of 519 The Greatest Crime Movies Ever Made #42 of 178 The Best Mystery Movies

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Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman
Sleepers is a 1996 American legal drama film written, produced, and directed by Barry Levinson, and based on Lorenzo Carcaterra's 1995 novel of the same name.

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#1,042 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #14 of 36 30+ Great Movies About Juvenile Delinquents #21 of 23 The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies

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Tom Cruise, Gene Hackman, Gary Busey
The Firm is a 1993 American legal thriller film directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Holly Hunter, Hal Holbrook, and David Strathairn. ...more

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wiabux added Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey
This film is a 1996 drama film adaptation of John Grisham's 1989 novel of the same name, directed by Joel Schumacher. Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kevin Spacey ...more

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#286 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #25 of 719 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #708 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

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Matt Damon, Claire Danes, Mickey Rourke
The Rainmaker is a 1997 American drama film written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Matt Damon, based on the 1995 novel of the same name by John Grisham. Danny DeVito, Danny ...more

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#252 of 347 The Best Movies Based On Books #11 of 23 The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies #53 of 89 The Best Southern Movies

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Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, Mary-Louise Parker
The Client is a 1994 American legal thriller film directed by Joel Schumacher, based on the novel by John Grisham. A young boy who witnessed the suicide of a mafia lawyer hires an attorney ...more

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#1,044 of 1,204 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #8 of 23 The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies #10 of 23 The Best Movies About Life in the South

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ryanmcw added Al Pacino, Craig T. Nelson, Jeffrey Tambor
...And Justice for All is a 1979 courtroom drama film, directed by Norman Jewison, and starring Al Pacino, Jack Warden, John Forsythe, and Lee Strasberg. Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Lahti, Craig ...more

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#392 of 460 The Most Quotable Movies of All Time #117 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #17 of 23 The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies

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Lindsay Wagner, Edward Herrmann, John Houseman
The Paper Chase is a 1973 film starring Timothy Bottoms, Lindsay Wagner, and John Houseman, directed by James Bridges. Based on John Jay Osborn, Jr.'s 1970 novel, The Paper Chase, it tells the ...more
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Inherit the Wind is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Legal Dramas Ever Made
wiabux added Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly, Harry Morgan
Inherit the Wind is a 1960 Hollywood film adaptation of the 1955 play of the same name, written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, directed by Stanley Kramer. It stars Spencer Tracy as ...more

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#69 of 194 The Best Movies of the '60s #156 of 265 The Best Ensemble Movies #12 of 85 The Best Movies Based on Plays

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wiabux added Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Bryan Cranston
The Lincoln Lawyer is a 2011 American thriller film adapted from the novel of the same name by Michael Connelly, starring Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy and Marisa Tomei. ...more
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wiabux added Daniel Day-Lewis, Emma Thompson, Tom Wilkinson
In the Name of the Father is a 1993 Irish-British-American biographical courtroom drama film co-written and directed by Jim Sheridan. It is based on the true life story of the Guildford Four, ...more

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#156 of 304 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time #27 of 50 The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the '90s #49 of 318 The Best Political Films Ever Made

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wiabux added Jodie Foster, Kelly McGillis, Garry Chalk
The Accused is a 1988 American drama film directed by Jonathan Kaplan, loosely based on the the real-life event involving Cheryl Araujo in New Bedford, Massachusetts and the resulting trial ...more

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#15 of 23 The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies #110 of 519 The Greatest Crime Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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wiabux added Paul Newman, Sally Field, Bob Balaban
Absence of Malice is a 1981 American drama film starring Paul Newman, Sally Field, and Bob Balaban, directed by Sydney Pollack. The title refers to the legal definition of libel defamation, and ...more

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#1,505 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #451 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #247 of 519 The Greatest Crime Movies Ever Made