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Best Courtroom Films of All Time

Updated on March 7, 2017

Courtroom Dramas

The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a courtroom slash horror movie. A girl dies during an exorcism and now the Priest is on trial for her murder.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a courtroom slash horror movie. A girl dies during an exorcism and now the Priest is on trial for her murder. | Source
A Time To Kill was a dramatic courtroom movie that stars Sam Jackson and Sandra Bullock. It is a tear jerker to say the least.
A Time To Kill was a dramatic courtroom movie that stars Sam Jackson and Sandra Bullock. It is a tear jerker to say the least. | Source
Pelican Brief is a great film starring Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts. It has many dramatic moments in rand out of the court room.
Pelican Brief is a great film starring Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts. It has many dramatic moments in rand out of the court room. | Source
The Client stars Tommy Lee Jones and it has some very dramatic moments. The tension boils over in a very fiery final twenty minutes.
The Client stars Tommy Lee Jones and it has some very dramatic moments. The tension boils over in a very fiery final twenty minutes.
Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington star in Philadelphia. Both are lawyers in the film, first as opposing attorneys and later as comrades.
Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington star in Philadelphia. Both are lawyers in the film, first as opposing attorneys and later as comrades. | Source
Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore star in A Few Good Men. This military courtroom movie is full of drama and passion.
Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore star in A Few Good Men. This military courtroom movie is full of drama and passion. | Source

Courtroom Dramas

There are hundreds of great court room films and television shows. The list below features the cream of the crop as far as court room dramas are concerned, in my opinion.

1. A Time To Kill: Samuel L. Jackson a man who kills two white men who killed his daughter. This was a brutal attack. He is was quickly put on trial with Mathew McConaughey as his lawyer. One of the most intense 30 minutes in a courtroom you will ever witness on film. Race and sexism are both prominent issues in this movie. This movie really makes you even wonder about the legal system. There are a lot of touchy issues in this movie, that will make you stop and think. What if this was your child? What if this was you in this situation? Another lesson in being grateful for what we have a minute. This was a desperate man looking for a quick solution.

2. The Exorcism of Emily Rose: This film centers around the disturbing girl who was a normal teenage girl, With no warnings or signs, Emily became possessed by the devil. She goes through all different kinds of behavior from: cussing the priest, walking in distorted positions, speaking in different languages that she has never heard or been exposed to in her studies. She died supposedly, from being possessed by demons but, was under the care of a Priest at the time of her death. The Priest goes on trial for her murder but, in an intense religious awakening enough so, that the jury noticed, and he was released. The film is rated R and shows an actual exorcism attempt being performed which is intensely scary. Some people doubt this happened but, I am afraid it did believe it happen and her family was at their wits end. If you love scary moves, this is the one for you.

3. The Client: Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones star in this courtroom thriller about the Mafia. A murder unsolved is on the table but, it must be solved because career advancement and life itself is at stake. Not to mention, the mob does not fight fair so, be ready for some intense moments. The film has some very vivid scenes in and out of the courtroom.

4. Philadelphia: This is just Tom Hanks plays a lawyer who is terminated when it is discovered he has the AIDS virus. Hanks hires formal rival attorney, played by Denzel Washington, to represent him in a discrimination case against the firm. An unforgettable, performance by both stars and Hanks won the Oscar Award for his role in this movie.

Also, Bruce Springsteen won an Academy Award for best song with The Streets of Philadelphia.

5. Presumed Innocent: Harrison Ford plays as a lead prosecutor who is accused of murder after his assistant and his mistress are found dead in their residence. In a trial that will make you quiver, yet wonder, do not miss this classic drama from 1990.

6. A Civil Action: John Travolta plays as an attorney in this film based on a true story. The Civil action revolves around the environmental pollution court cases of the mid 1980s which took place in the state of Massachusetts. The film has lots of dramatic moments and it makes you sit back and think.

7. Pelican Brief: John Grisham wrote this crime epic starring Denzel Washington as a reporter and Julia Roberts as the law student in this movie about two Supreme Court Justices who were murdered. Roberts writes a paper while in college about why she thought the murders took place, big mistake. High drama from start to finish and no one is safe.

8. The Verdict: This film stars Paul Newman and Charlotte Rampling in this sad courtroom film based on true events in the case of, Karen Ann Quinlan, a girl on a life support machine. Newman is greedy but, he soon discovers his morals as well. The movie takes a while to get going but, once it hits its stride it becomes a tear jerker and it makes you think in different ways.

9. A Few Good Men: This is a true story starring Demi Moore, Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson in a courtroom thriller about two U.S. Marines who are on trial for the murder of a serviceman. Trials and tribulations abound in this heart pounding adventure through the legal system. The acting in this film will keep you on the edge of your seat as it is gripping.

10. To Kill a Mockingbird: This 1962 film, stars Gregory Peck and Mary Bedham in this courtroom film about true racism and the townspeople's race against it. Tears will flow in this sad, but true adaptation of Harper Lee's book.

Location of A Civil Action

Philadelphia on DVD

Philadelphia Trailer

Which is The Best?

Which is Your Favorite Courtroom Movie?

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Sam L. Jackson is Fabulous

Samuel L. Jackson was simply amazing in A Time To Kill. He was really dramatic and he made that film a tear jerker. The film was more or less about racism and Jackson was not gonna let racism stop him from avenging his daughter. It's a sad film with a message and it's definitely a top notch performance by Samuel L. Jackson.

A Time To Kill Trailer

© 2012 Buster Johnson

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