Law The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies  

Ranker Film
554 votes 94 voters 6.6k views 23 items

The cat and mouse antics of smart lawyers and even smarter defendants make courtroom thrillers an entertaining film genre. The best movies set in the courtroom often examine the life and death consequences of high-stakes trials. This is a list of the best courtroom thriller movies including everything from To Kill a Mockingbird to 12 Angry Men to Erin Brockovich.

What thrilling films will you vote to the top of this list? Maybe you're a fan of A Few Good Men. The back-and-forth courtroom exchange between Colonel Nathan Jessep (Jack Nicholson) and Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) climaxed with the delivery of the iconic line, “You can't handle the truth!” The Devil's Advocate is another entertaining courtroom drama. Edward Norton was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of a killer alter boy in Primal Fear. Other good films featured on this list of the best courtroom thriller movies include Sleepers, The Verdict, and The Pelican Brief.

Do you have a favorite trial thriller? Give the best movies a thumbs up and get in on the conversation in the comments section.

list ordered by

1
31 5
To Kill a Mockingbird is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
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

2
32 6
12 Angry Men is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
Henry Fonda, Jack Klugman, Lee J. Cobb 12 Angry Men is a 1957 American drama film adapted from a teleplay of the same name by Reginald Rose. Written and co-produced by Rose himself and directed by Sidney Lumet, this trial film tells ...more

3
32 11
A Few Good Men is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Jack Nicholson A Few Good Men is a 1992 American legal drama film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore, with Kevin Bacon, Kevin Pollak, James Marshall, J. T. Walsh, ...more

4
25 8
Primal Fear is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
Edward Norton, Richard Gere, Laura Linney Primal Fear is a 1996 American neo-noir crime-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 ...more

5
23 9
Philadelphia is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
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

6
19 7
The Verdict is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
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

7
20 9
A Time to Kill is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey A Time to Kill 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 ...more

8
18 8
The Firm is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
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

9
13 6
Anatomy of a Murder is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
James Stewart, George C. Scott, Lee Remick Anatomy of a Murder is a 1959 American courtroom crime 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 ...more

10
12 6
The Client is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, Mary-Louise Parker The Client is a 1994 American legal thriller film directed by Joel Schumacher, and starring Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones and Brad Renfro in his film debut. It is based on the novel of the ...more

11
12 7
The Pelican Brief is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, John Lithgow The Pelican Brief is a 1993 legal crime thriller based on the novel of the same name by John Grisham. Directed by Alan J. Pakula, the film stars Julia Roberts in the role of young law student ...more

12
11 7
Kramer vs. Kramer is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
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

13
10 7
The Accused is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
Jodie Foster, Kelly McGillis, Garry Chalk The Accused is a 1988 American drama film starring Kelly McGillis and Jodie Foster, directed by Jonathan Kaplan and written by Tom Topor. Loosely based on the real-life gang rape of Cheryl ...more

14
11 9
Erin Brockovich is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
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

15
11 10
Runaway Jury is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
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

16
12 12
The Devil's Advocate is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
Charlize Theron, Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves The Devil's Advocate is a 1997 American mystery thriller film based on Andrew Neiderman's novel of the same name. It is directed by Taylor Hackford and stars Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino, and ...more

17
10 10
The Rainmaker is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
Choicy added 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

18
10 10
In the Name of the Father is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
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

19
10 10
...And Justice for All is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
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

20
8 11
A Civil Action is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
Choicy added John Travolta, Robert Duvall, Kathy Bates A Civil Action is a 1998 American drama film that was directed by Steven Zaillian, that stars John Travolta and Robert Duvall, and that is based on the book of the same name by Jonathan Harr. ...more

21
8 15
The Judge is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
Robert Downey Jr., Leighton Meester, Robert Duvall The Judge is a 2014 drama film written by Bill Dubuque, Nick Schenk and David Seidler; and directed by David Dobkin.

22
3 11
Jagged Edge is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
Jeff Bridges, Glenn Close, Lance Henriksen Jagged Edge is a 1985 film starring Glenn Close, Jeff Bridges, and Peter Coyote. Robert Loggia received an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his role in this film. It is a ...more

23
5 14
Sleepers is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies
Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman Sleepers is a 1996 American legal crime drama film written, produced, and directed by Barry Levinson, and based on Lorenzo Carcaterra's 1995 novel of the same name.