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.
- Following the closing arguments in a murder trial, the 12 members of the jury must deliberate, with a guilty verdict meaning death for the accused, an inner-city teen. As the dozen men try to reach a ...more
- Scout Finch (Mary Badham), 6,and her older brother, Jem (Phillip Alford), live in sleepy Maycomb, Ala., spending much of their time with their friend Dill (John Megna) and spying on their reclusive ...more
This is also one of the most famous lawyer movies.Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) is a military lawyer defending two U.S. Marines charged with killing a fellow Marine at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Although Kaffee is known for seeking plea ...more
- A boozing lawyer (Paul Newman) takes on a law-firm dean (James Mason), the Archdiocese of Boston and the system in general.
- Fast-paced thriller, based on the John Grisham bestseller, about a boy whose life is endangered after he stumbles across vital information about a politician's murder. His lawyer is the only person ...more
- Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson) is a heartbroken black father who avenges his daughter's brutal rape by shooting the bigoted men responsible for the crime as they are on their way to trial. He ...more
- Defense attorney Martin Vail takes on jobs for money and prestige rather than any sense of the greater good. His latest case involves an altar boy, accused of brutally murdering the archbishop of ...more
- Semi-retired Michigan lawyer Paul Biegler (James Stewart) takes the case of Army Lt. Manion (Ben Gazzara), who murdered a local innkeeper after his wife (Lee Remick) claimed that he raped her. Over ...more
- A young lawyer joins a small but prestigious law firm only to find out that most of their clients are on the wrong side of the law. The company is helping to launder mob money, get clients off ...more
- 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 Glover, ...more
- Taut thriller about a young law student whose legal brief about the assassination of two Supreme Court justices causes her to be targeted by killers. She realizes just how accurate her accusations ...more
- Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts) is a woman in a tight spot. Following a car accident in which Erin is not at fault, Erin pleads with her attorney Ed Masry (Albert Finney) to hire her at his law firm. ...more
- After a workplace shooting in New Orleans, a trial against the gun manufacturer pits lawyer Wendell Rohr (Dustin Hoffman) against shady jury consultant Rankin Fitch (Gene Hackman), who uses illegal ...more
- Unemployed young Irishman Gerry Conlon (Daniel Day-Lewis) gets by as a petty thief in 1970s Belfast. When local IRA leaders get fed up with him, he flees to England and meets up with his friend Paul ...more
- Out drinking one night after a fight with her boyfriend, Sarah Tobias (Jodie Foster) is brutally raped by three men in a bar while people watch and cheer. District Attorney Kathryn Murphy (Kelly ...more
- Satirical drama in which an idealistic lawyer who tries to win cases for clients trapped in a hypocritical and corrupt legal system finds himself defending a venal and self-righteous judge accused of ...more
- Fearing it would compromise his career, lawyer Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) hides his homosexuality and HIV status at a powerful Philadelphia law firm. But his secret is exposed when a colleague spots ...more
- In this legal thriller based on a true story, John Travolta stars as Jan Schlichtmann, a tenacious personal-injury attorney whose fierce determination entangles him in a case that threatens to ...more
- Aspiring Florida defense lawyer Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) accepts a high-powered position at a New York law firm headed by legal shark John Milton (Al Pacino). As Kevin moves up in the firm's ranks, ...more
- 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 impact ...more
- Four teenage friends from Hell's Kitchen end up being sent to reform school after almost killing a man. There they are brutalized by the guards. John (Ron Eldard) and Tommy (Billy Crudup) grow up to ...more
- Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.), a brilliant but shady attorney, returns to his Indiana hometown after learning that his mother has passed away. His arrival triggers renewed tension between himself ...more
- Lawyer Teddy Barnes reluctantly takes up the case of publisher Jack Forrester, who is accused of murdering his wife for her money. As the trial develops, she is kept guessing right to the very last ...more
- A defense attorney, her associate and a military prosecutor uncover a far-reaching conspiracy while investigating the case of a suspected 9/11 terrorist imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for six ...more
- The Rev. Moore (Tom Wilkinson) is prosecuted for the wrongful death of a girl thought to be demonically possessed, because he administered the church-sanctioned exorcism that ultimately killed her. ...more