Entertainment

The Best Courtroom Drama Movies 

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Updated February 23, 2020 10.6k votes 1.8k voters 196.6k views 92 items

List Rules Vote for your personal favorite Courtroom drama films, regardless of how popular or successful they were at the box office.

This list of courtroom drama films includes only the best movies about the legal system. If it features a trial, judge, and jury, then it should be on this list.  This courtroom drama movie list can be sorted by cast, year, director and more. Including films such as Degree of Guilt and The Gift, this list includes some of the best courtroom movie dramas made. A classic court movie like 12 Angry Men is a quintessential example of the genre, but is it one of the best courtroom movies ever? Gregory Peck may have delivered an iconic performance as Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird, but how does that legal defense drama stack up against the rest? 

Which is your favorite courtroom drama movie? Whether you like the classic old school courtroom movies or the more modern ones starring familiar faces like Al Pacino, this list is sure to have what you love. And if it's not on the list, add it yourself at the bottom!  

The films on this list cover the most famous courtroom drama movies of all time and are voted on by people who really care about courtroom drama movie lists. Vote up the ones you think are best and vote down any dramas that are guilty of not being very good. 

Courtroom Drama movies have been directed by some pretty famous names, including Rob Reiner and John Ford.

list ordered by
1
12 Angry Men is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
Henry Fonda, Jack Klugman, Lee J. Cobb

Released: 1957

Directed by: Sidney Lumet

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

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#347 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #6 of 46 Every Single Movie On Rotten Tomatoes With 100% Approval, Ranked

2
A Few Good Men is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Jack Nicholson

Released: 1992

Directed by: Rob Reiner

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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#183 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #41 of 460 The Most Quotable Movies of All Timelisted on The Highest Grossing 90s Movies

3
To Kill a Mockingbird is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
Robert Duvall, Gregory Peck, William Windom

Released: 1962

Directed by: Robert Mulligan

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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#4 of 351 The Best Movies Based On Books 'To Kill a Mockingbird' Quotes That'll Change How You Thinklisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
A Time to Kill is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey

Released: 1996

Directed by: Joel Schumacher

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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#282 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #25 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #282 of 410 The Best Rainy Day Movies

5
The Verdict is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
Bruce Willis, Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling

Released: 1982

Directed by: Sidney Lumet

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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#248 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #4 of 23 The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies

6
Primal Fear is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
Edward Norton, Richard Gere, Laura Linney

Released: 1996

Directed by: Gregory Hoblit

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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#5 of 24 The Best Movies with Twist Endings #22 of 59 The Best Movies Where the Bad Guy Wins

7
Witness for the Prosecut... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
wiabux added Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton, Tyrone Power

Released: 1957

Directed by: Billy Wilder

Witness for the Prosecution is a 1957 American courtroom drama film set in the Old Bailey in London. The film, based on a short story by Agatha Christie, deals with the trial of a man accused. ...more
8
Anatomy of a Murder is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
James Stewart, George C. Scott, Lee Remick

Released: 1959

Directed by: Otto Preminger

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
9
Philadelphia is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Julius Erving

Released: 1993

Directed by: Jonathan Demme

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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#47 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #127 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Crylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

10
My Cousin Vinny is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
Marisa Tomei, Joe Pesci, Ralph Macchio

Released: 1992

Directed by: Jonathan Lynn

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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#127 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'My Cousin Vinny'listed on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

11
The Lincoln Lawyer is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
v.fizero.0 added Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Bryan Cranston

Released: 2011

Directed by: Brad Furman

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
12
The Accused is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
Jodie Foster, Kelly McGillis, Garry Chalk

Released: 1988

Directed by: Jonathan Kaplan

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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#24 of 46 The Greatest Legal Dramas Ever Made #15 of 23 The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

13
Judgment at Nuremberg is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
Judy Garland, William Shatner, Marlene Dietrich

Released: 1961

Directed by: Stanley Kramer

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 221 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time #51 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

14
Erin Brockovich is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
Julia Roberts, Marg Helgenberger, Aaron Eckhart

Released: 2000

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

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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#26 of 243 Critically Acclaimed Movies That Kinda Suck #26 of 236 The Best Movies Based on True Storieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

15
Runaway Jury is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
Rachel Weisz, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman

Released: 2003

Directed by: Gary Fleder

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 351 The Best Movies Based On Books #216 of 265 The Best Ensemble Movies #9 of 46 The Greatest Legal Dramas Ever Made

16
The Firm is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
Tom Cruise, Gene Hackman, Gary Busey

Released: 1993

Directed by: Sydney Pollack

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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#15 of 46 The Greatest Legal Dramas Ever Made #11 of 42 The All-Time Best Tom Cruise Movieslisted on The Highest Grossing 90s Movies

17
Presumed Innocent is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
wiabux added Harrison Ford, Brian Dennehy, Raúl Juliá

Released: 1990

Directed by: Alan J. Pakula

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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#14 of 46 The Greatest Legal Dramas Ever Made #182 of 520 The Greatest Crime Movies Ever Made

18
The Rainmaker is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
Matt Damon, Claire Danes, Mickey Rourke

Released: 1997

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

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 351 The Best Movies Based On Books #19 of 46 The Greatest Legal Dramas Ever Made

19
The Devil's Advocate is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
Charlize Theron, Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves

Released: 1997

Directed by: Taylor Hackford

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

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#99 of 254 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #422 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #175 of 799 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

20
...And Justice for All ... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
wiabux added Al Pacino, Craig T. Nelson, Jeffrey Tambor

Released: 1979

Directed by: Norman Jewison

...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 #17 of 46 The Greatest Legal Dramas Ever Made

21
The Client is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, Mary-Louise Parker

Released: 1994

Directed by: Joel Schumacher

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 1,196 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #8 of 23 The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies

22
Inherit the Wind is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly, Harry Morgan

Released: 1960

Directed by: Stanley Kramer

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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#12 of 85 The Best Movies Based on Plays #20 of 46 The Greatest Legal Dramas Ever Made

23
Sleepers is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman

Released: 1996

Directed by: Barry Levinson

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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#13 of 46 The Greatest Legal Dramas Ever Made #21 of 23 The Very Best Courtroom Thriller Movies

24
12 Angry Men is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
_denny-wright added Jack Lemmon, James Gandolfini, Tony Danza

Released: 1997

Directed by: William Friedkin

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.
25
A Civil Action is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Courtroom Drama Movies
willyboymcoy added John Travolta, Robert Duvall, Kathy Bates

Released: 1998

Directed by: Steven Zaillian

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