Injustice revelations, corrupt systems, and politicians, and plot twists that make you rewind the entire film back to the start because you missed one tiny dialogue that was really important. If you watch courtroom movies because of all this, you’re just like me. But courtroom dramas are not a new trend, they’ve been here for ages, not just in movies but books as well, from classics like ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird‘ and ‘The Wrong Man’ to modern emotional movies like ‘The Judge’. Some of these movies can even prove to be educational for aspiring lawyers and some of them hold political and historical significance that can add value to anyone’s general knowledge.
15. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile (2019)
A sensational retelling of an already sensational case – that of serial killer Ted Bundy’s – from the point of view of his long-time romantic partner. His girlfriend, who refused to believe the truth about her serial killer boyfriend for a long time, opens her eyes to the monster that he really is in this compelling and thrilling film that stars Zac Efron as the charismatic, magnetic, compulsively watchable Ted Bundy. The reason we’ve put this film so low on this list is that it feels more like an emotional/romantic drama than a lawyer movie or a courtroom drama (even though it is). The film spends too much time focusing on Bundy’s love life than on his damaged psyche.
14. Ijé: The Journey (2010)
Anya has a perfect life with an incredible husband and a loving sibling. However, fate deals her a cruel hand as she suddenly faces a charge of murdering three men, including her husband. Determined to prove her innocence, she calls her sister, Chioma, from Nigeria before going to trial with an inexperienced attorney. Through a narrative that fuses the African and American culture, Anya and her sister reveal a dark and hidden secret that might just end up being the key to their freedom.
13. Shephards and Butchers (2016)
When a prison guard is accused of an inmate’s murder and stands trial in court, a jaded lawyer takes up his case and argues that the prison guard was not in his right mind but traumatized from the executions he has previously taken part in. The grim film seeks to be an expose on the horrors and evils of capital punishment, painstakingly setting up collateral damage as well. The script is well-written and the performances are solid if only lacking a little in their depth. Not the best courtroom drama out there, but still worth a one-time watch.
12. Yara (2021)
An exhilarating and exciting courtroom drama, ‘Yara’ follows the aftermath of the murder of 13-year-old Yara Gambirasio. The shocking murder ends up dividing the town of Brembate di Sopra into two as people clamor for the murderer to be brought to justice. In such a tumultuous setting, prosecutor Letizia Ruggeri has no leads other than a trace DNA to convict the perpetrator. Thus, the scene is set for a brilliant courtroom drama as the prosecutor tries to detect and convict the criminal based on the power of arguments.
11. Boy Missing (2016)
This is a wonderful Spanish-language film revolving around a lawyer who watches helplessly as the man accused of kidnapping and traumatizing her son walks free due to lack of evidence. As a lawyer, she cannot do much. As a mother, she takes matters into her own hands and teaches the accused a lesson he will not forget in a hurry. With a beautiful and emotional script that depicts a mother’s pain of coming very close to losing her child and seeing the person who hurt her kid walk away scot-free, audiences understand why she decides to deliver justice herself. The pace of the movie goes a little haywire as it progresses but stick with it, it is overall a good film.
10. In Defense of a Married Man (1990)
This one is an oldie but goodie. The premise is so interesting – a man having an extra-marital affair becomes the prime suspect in the murder of his girlfriend and has to lawyer up. Who’s the lawyer? The very wife he was cheating on. ‘In Defense of a Married Man’ is a satisfyingly soapy, made-for-TV movie that features some brilliant acting and a script that draws you in. The viewers can feel the lawyer’s pain when she has to defend in court the very man who has wronged her with his philandering ways. But she chooses to do justice to her profession rather than being vindictive.
9. The Laundromat (2019)
This star-studded film about the real-life scandal of the Panama Papers and a money manipulation scam is headed by Meryl Streep. But even the legendary Streep’s presence is not enough to elevate a dry script and make this appear as an entry much higher on this list. The story, direction, and acting jobs are all very well done, but the narrative of the film loses its footing at times and becomes way too boring when it goes into unnecessary details of money laundering, possibly in an ill-advised bid to keep away from sensationalizing the whole scandal. Just watch it for its stellar star cast (Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman star as the corrupt lawyers helping rich individuals with their tax evasion and whatnot).
8. A Fall From Grace (2020)
When a woman is jailed for the murder of her husband, a rookie lawyer believes that things just don’t add up and starts an investigation of her own. When the woman denies killing her husband, the lawyer knows she has to find out the truth at all costs. Clearly, the truth is something entirely different and her client is being framed, especially since the dead body was never found. She might be a novice in court, but the attorney gives her all to make sure she does not mess it up for her client. The story is gripping, though predictable, and the performances convincing. There’s a twist towards the end that may come as a surprise to most viewers. Overall, a compelling courtroom drama/ murder mystery movie.
7. Seeing Allred (2018)
‘Seeing Allred’ is an interesting documentary that follows women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred and documents her firebrand court performances as she fights famous people charged with sexual misconduct and assault. The attorney, who is considered a stalwart in her field, undertook various controversial cases and have fought for women’s rights against popular figures, including senators and Hollywood personalities. The film aims to be a tribute to her incredible work and offers an authentic insight into her life through photographs, archival footage, and interviews.
6. Pink (2016)
This Indian Hindi crime drama film sees Bollywood legend, Amitabh Bachchan, playing the role of a lawyer who is defending the case of three women who have been molested by the relative of an influential politician. Women’s safety has become a huge concern in India in recent years, and this film showcases how well-connected people sometimes get away even after committing heinous crimes against women. One very important aspect of society that is highlighted in this film is that of women being judged for their life choices, something which is quite prevalent all over the world. ‘Pink’ questions this patriarchal mindset and makes a strong case for a better world.
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5. Monster (2021)
‘Monster’ revolves around Steve Harmon, a typical seventeen-year-old honors student who does brilliantly at school. A film student at an elite Harlem school, he feels content in his everyday life and even looks forward to the future. However, in a sudden twist of fate, his world comes crashing down when he is shockingly charged with felony murder. Steve, unexpectedly, loses the luxury he had taken for granted as he is forced to confront a criminal justice system in order to prove his innocence and integrity. With the justice system already holding a preconceived notion, convincing them otherwise seems like a mountainous task which the movie wonderfully documents through incredible courtroom scenes.
4. Alter Ego (2017)
‘Alter Ego’ revolves around attorney Ada Igwe, who holds a determination to find and prosecute child molesters and sex offenders. Her commitment to the issue makes her seek out even the most complex cases, which she then fights to win to the best of her abilities. However, her personal life makes her an insatiable predator seeking to satisfy the most profound sexual desires. Balancing such contrasting characteristics isn’t easy, and the film wonderfully depicts how her colliding worlds turn her into the very person she hates.
3. Milada (2017)
This historical drama movie traces back the story of Milada Horakova, who was a pre-World War II politician. She was arrested and tried in court for the first time by the Nazis during the war. The second time she was again arrested and tried for her refusal to leave the country and cease the activities of the opposition which infuriated the post-war Communist government. The film provides an excellent overview of how Milada fought for the freedom of her own country while giving up on her own personal freedom. The historical accuracy has been presented very subtly throughout the film and pays a very awe-inspiring tribute to the struggles of the national hero.
2. OMG – Oh My God! (2012)
This is a Bollywood Hindi-language film that rightfully calls out the absurdity of people’s blind faith in the name of religion and their inability to question the so-called peddlers of faith – the places of worship, the communities, the priests, and the “prophets” of God. When Kanji’s shop is destroyed in an earthquake and the insurance company rejects his claim citing the “act of God” clause, Kanji sues “God” and takes God’s supposed mouthpieces and representatives to court to claim a settlement from them for destroying his shop. The way Kanji (Paresh Rawal), who is an atheist, uses the religious scriptures against the very preachers that preach from them is truly amazing to watch and makes you want to cheer him on, much like the spectators in the film. The part where Krishna (a Hindu God) comes to stay with Kanji in his house as a paying guest is where the movie gets a little ridiculous but barring that, it is an absolutely delightful watch.
1. Trial of the Chicago Seven (2020)
A fascinating historical legal drama film, the film follows the trial of several anti-Vietnam War protestors who cross state lines intending to incite a riot at Chicago’s 1968 Democratic National Convention. Charged with trying to start a riot, the group face trial by jury in front of a legal system that is heavily against them. From the very beginning, the judge shows extreme amounts of prejudice towards the prosecution making it quite challenging for the defense attorneys to prove their points. Moreover, the abuse of violent punishment threatens to jeopardize the trial. Chock full of nail-biting drama and heartwrenching emotions, this incredible legal drama is a must-watch for courtroom movie lovers.
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