AFI Top Courtroom Drama Movies

Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 10:21 am

As part of their 10 Top 10 series, the American Film Institute presented their AFI Top Courtroom Drama Movies in June of 2008. James Woods made the announcements, and eligibility hinged on some system of justice playing a crucial role in the film’s narrative. While the list may be a few years old, it still remains current due to the lack of quality courtroom movies coming out (can’t wait for a trial movie in 3D).

All the movies listed below (from #10 to #1) can also be rented from Netflix. From legal dramas to television shows like Perry Mason, Netflix has all your courtroom drama needs. We get a small commission for sending you there via our links, but it doesn’t affect your price tag one little bit.

10. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) – A fictional account of the trials that took place in Nuremberg following the end of World War II. Starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, and Richard Widmark.

9. A Cry in the Dark (1988) – Meryl Streep and Sam Neill star in this real-life tale of an Australian family whose nine-week-old daughter is taken away in the night by a dingo. But public sentiment soon turns against them, and the couple find themselves on trial for murder.

8. In Cold Blood (1967) – Based on the book by Truman Capote, the film deals with the true tale of Perry Smith (Robert Blake) and Dick Hickock (Scott Wilson), two thieves whose attempted burglary of a family’s home ends in mass murder.

7. Anatomy of a Murder (1959) – When a soldier (Ben Gazzara) kills the man who raped his wife (Lee Remick), a small-town lawyer (James Stewart) is hired to represent him. But in order to win, he’ll have to overcome a slick prosecutor (George C. Scott) and the wife’s negative reputation within the community.

6. Witness for the Prosecution (1958) – Charles Laughton plays Sir Wilfred Robarts, a barrister in poor health who takes on the case of a man (Tyrone Power) accused of killing an older woman. While the defendant’s wife (Marlene Dietrich) provides an alibi, Robarts is soon approached by a mystery woman who provides evidence that all is not as it seems. The film’s ending features a rare double twist.

5. A Few Good Men (1992) – When a Marine ends up murdered, two of his fellow soldiers are accused of the crime. Tom Cruise plays Lt. Daniel Kaffee, the attorney who sets out to represent them. Jack Nicholson steals the show as Col. Nathan Jessep, the hardass commander of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Also starring Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Pollak, Kiefer Sutherland, and J.T. Walsh.

4. The Verdict (1982) – David Mamet provided the screenplay for this film about an alcoholic lawyer (Paul Newman) who takes a medical malpractice case involving a woman in a persistent vegetative state. Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden and James Mason co-star. The film received five Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture.

3. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) – When his wife walks out on him, Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) is forced to raise his son alone. But just when life is getting back to normal, Joanna Kramer (Meryl Streep) returns and wants to take her son away. So off to court they go.

2. 12 Angry Men (1957) – Set almost entirely in a jury room, this film revolves around a murder case and the 12 men of differing attitudes and backgrounds who must decide the fate of a young man. Henry Fonda leads an amazing cast that includes Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Martin Balsam, Jack Warden, and Jack Klugman.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) – Based on the novel by Harper Lee, this film adaptation depicts life in the South during the Great Depression. Gregory Peck is Atticus Finch, a widowed lawyer and single parent. As he tries to raise his children with sound morals, he must also defend a black man accused of raping a white woman. Robert Duvall makes his film debut as the reclusive Boo Radley.

TV episodes & movies from Netflix – now instantly to your TV! Free trial

If you’re interested in these AFI top courtroom drama movies, be sure to click on the following:

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 28th, 2010 at 10:21 am and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

7 Responses to “AFI Top Courtroom Drama Movies”

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October 4, 2010

Luke Markin

Great list as always from AFI. Though I recommend real user ratings list such as that really shows all the drama movies.

January 12, 2011

Roberto Autran Nunes

12 Angry Men (1957) is the best!


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