7 Classic Courtroom Drama Movies You Need to Watch

Fascinating in many ways, courtroom drama movies are one of the most popular genres. People love them for mysterious plots chock-full of unexpected twists and turns, and the reality of life. Here is the list of 7 classic courtroom drama movies you need to watch, some of them were inspired by true stories that make them even more thrilling.

12 Angry Men (1957)

Listed amongst the American Film Institute’s 100 Years… 100 Movies, 12 Angry Men is a cult courtroom drama directed by Sidney Lumet. A captivating look at the jury deliberation process, the film stars Henry Fonda as Juror 8, a dissenting ‘not guilty’ voter trying to convince his fellow jury members that the case of a young man accused of murder may not be so clear-cut.

Dark Waters (2019)

In this gripping thriller, Mark Ruffalo plays a corporate attorney Robert Bilott who takes on the chemical giant that dumped toxic waste in West Virginia for decades. A principled lawyer, he couldn’t leave without the attention concerns of a small farmer, who was sure his cows were dying of brutal illness caused by hardly polluted water and soil. Robert discovers that DuPont has been poisoning the area and people who live there for decades, what is more, senior management has been well-aware of the danger the company poised to the community. 

His bosses do not want to support his fight against such a powerful corporation, leaving Robert to be a lone crusader who faces numerous challenges of the corrupt system. He fights DuPont in court for nearly 15 years as they try to evade guilt, but finally, a brave lawyer makes them pay a staggering sum of money – $671 million – as compensation to the victims. Inspired by a true story, this movie is a great watch given that it comprises plenty of real-life court scenes, some of them simply take your breath away.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Based on Harper Lee’s same-named award-winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird has managed to grab three Oscars: for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction in Black and White, and Best Actor (Gregory Peck). The plot is set in a fictional Alabama town during the turbulent 1930s marked by racial tensions. Gregory Peck plays a lawyer Atticus Finch who defends a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman.

The Devil’s Advocate (1997)

Another thriller starring unrivaled Al Pachino as the controversial head of a lavish New York law firm, which hires new attorney Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) who comes from Florida with his beautiful wife Mary Ann (played by Charlize Theron). As Kevin moves up the ladder, Mary Ann starts to show signs of serious mental illness, the greater her husband is doing, the more frightening and mystical her experiences are. 

Primal Fear (1996)

Richard Gere plays a Chicago defense attorney Martin Vail who takes on a pro bono case representing a young altar boy Aaron Stampler (Edward Norton), accused of the brutal murder of Catholic clergyman Archbishop Rushman. It turns out that nothing is so clear that it may appear at first glance, and things get even more complicated when it appears, Roy was the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of Archbishop Rushman. 

Erin Brockovich (2000)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring amazing Julia Roberts, this biographical drama introduces to the audience a true story of Erin Brockovich and her fight against Pacific Gas and Electric, one of the largest energy corporations out there. She does her due diligence and makes every effort to discover the truth and bring the perpetrators to justice. The film was a great success and remains one of the best in the genre. No wonder Julia Roberts’ salary of $20 million set a new record and made her the highest-paid actress in Hollywood at that time. The combination of an award-winning performance and a compelling plot makes Erin Brockovich a must-see.

The Accused (1998)

Based on the real-life story, The Accused stars Jodie Foster as Sarah Tobias – a victim of brutal gang rape in a bar in Massachusets. The trial set for her attackers was fixed and she was blamed for provocative behavior while the attackers left unpunished, so Sarah decided to take justice into her own hands. 

A glimpse into the wondrous universe that seems so different from our usual world with all the legal jargon, intricacies, and a multitude of legit nuances. Courtroom dramas let us tap into a one-of-its-kind atmosphere filled with plenty of emotions and make us think of many things in life we take for granted. Is your fave among these seven masterpieces?