Netflix lists approximately 150 movies under its heading for “Courtroom Dramas.” Here are 10 I think most legal thriller lovers will enjoy.
THE VERDICT. Starring Paul Newman as a washed-up, alcoholic, ambulance-chaser, THE VERDICT is easily one of the most accurate portrayals of the lawyer’s life ever produced. In this 1982 courtroom drama, Newman’s character suffers a crisis of conscience and decides to go for a just verdict instead of the easy payday.
…AND JUSTICE FOR ALL. A personal favorite, this 1979 film stars Al Pacino as criminal defense attorney Arthur Kirkland, an idealist who takes the case of a conservative judge accused of rape.
PRIMAL FEAR. Ed Norton’s breakout performance as an altar boy charged with murdering the Archbishop of Chicago is a must-see for any legal thriller lover. Richard Gere plays hotshot attorney Martin Vail in this 1996 blockbuster based on the novel by William Diehl.
A FEW GOOD MEN. Boasting an all-star cast that includes Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, and Jack Nicholson, this 1992 film became an instant classic. Cruise and Moore make a terrific pair of military lawyers, but it’s Nicholson, of course, who steals the show as Col. Nathan Jessup
A CIVIL ACTION. Based on a sad but true story, 1998’s A CIVIL ACTION stars John Travolta as a cocky personal injury lawyer who gets stuck with a dog of a case involving dead children. The nonfiction account about polluted water and cancer clusters is written by Jonathan Harr and should be a required text at every law school across the country.
PRESUMED INNOCENT. This sober courtroom drama based on the novel by Scott Turow stars Harrison Ford as a Chicago prosecutor accused of murdering his co-worker and mistress. The late Raul Julia puts in an incredible performance as the defense lawyer Sandy Stern in this 1990 blockbuster.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. This 1962 film based on the timeless classic by Harper Lee examines race in the south as it relates to justice prior to the civil rights movement. Oscar-winner Gregory Peck is flawless in the starring role as attorney Atticus Finch.
CAPOTE. Though not quite a courtroom drama, this 2005 film is the story behind Truman Capote’s masterpiece In Cold Blood. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Truman Capote, the flamboyant writer who became obsessed with the murder of an entire family in rural Kansas.
THE RAINMAKER. Arguably the best big-screen adaptation of a John Grisham novel, this 1997 courtroom drama stars Matt Damon as a young, inexperienced attorney determined to defeat an insurance company. Funny, with loads of heart, THE RAINMAKER is also one of Francis Ford Coppola’s finest works.
DEAD MAN WALKING. Starring two of Hollywood’s most respected actors – Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon – DEAD MAN WALKING depicts a condemned man and the nun determined to save his soul before execution. This 1995 thriller is dark and gritty but easy to watch.