Friday's Top Five: Courtroom movies
October 7th, 2011
09:25 AM ET

Friday's Top Five: Courtroom movies

Lately, the media seems to be dominated by one high profile court case after another. The dramatic trials of Casey Anthony, Conrad Murray and Amanda Knox have captivated the world, and the latter of the three has already been spun into an actual film.

But of course, movies have some dramatic advantages. Writers, actors and editors make movie lawyers, judges and juries look their best, speak eloquently, and deliver just the right amount of dramatic pause during opening and closing arguments. In fact, growing up with Hollywood’s version of our judicial system can make real life litigators appear a little boring in comparison.

If it pleases the court, this week’s list puts your movie knowledge on trial. What’s the verdict on the best courtroom dramas? And if you were a Hollywood casting agent, who would you cast in the role of Miss Anthony (Natalie Portman), Dr. Murray (Forest Whitaker), and Miss Knox (For a big screen feature, I'd go with Jennifer Lawrence over Hayden Panettiere)?  Clearly, these stories are movies just waiting to be produced.

1. "A Few Good Men" (1992):  “*Did you order the Code Red?*” – Lt. Daniel Kaffee


2. "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962): “Now I am confident that you gentlemen will review, without passion, the evidence that you have heard, come to a decision and restore this man to his family.” – Atticus Finch


3. "Philadelphia" (1993): “Now, explain it to me like I'm a four-year-old.” – Joe Miller


4. "12 Angry Men" (1957): “Life Is In Their Hands - Death Is On Their Minds!” – Movie tagline


5. "…And Justice For All" (1979): “That man is guilty! That man, there, that man is a slime! He is a *slime*! If he's allowed to go free, then something really wrong is goin' on here!” – Arthur Kirkland


Honorable Mentions:

"Reversal of Fortune" (1990): “Yes, a vial of insulin... Just kidding.” – Claus von Bulow


"Presumed Innocent" (1990): “I'm a prosecutor. I'm part of the business of accusing, judging and punishing.” – Rusty Sabich


"Amistad" (1997): “This is the most important case ever to come before this court. Because what it in fact concerns is the very nature of man.” – John Quincy Adams


soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Seeing Eyes of God

    Proverbs 20 Verse 17 is to be read by Amanda Knox and her supporters ' Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel' . Please do not go around that she was all sweetness and light- someone is brutally murdered in the house you shared and you stand around kissing for all to see- Mental or what. I hope she lives a very long life remembering what she knows about that murder everynight for years to come. Cnn i know you will not publish my comments as this will go against the public image manufactured in the US.

    October 13, 2011 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. Carol Smith

    Are you people all crazy – You forgot the best courtroom drama ever (and a true story also!!) Anatomy of a Murder!!! Awesome movie!

    October 10, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ben Dover

    The fact is that Amanda Knox was and is an idiot. She didn't kill anyone but she's a MORON.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. United States vs. Salim Ajemi

    This movie single-handedly changed my mind about the nobility of our justice system and the entire point of defense lawyers. Well done.

    October 7, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Texan

    I love 12 Angry Men, I liked To Kill A Mocking Bird too, but it was so sad........but unfortunately it represented too many such cases that really happened.

    October 7, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. cjonline

    You forgot QBVII

    October 7, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rj

    ummmm anyone seen "The Verdict"? better than ALL these others and has Paul Newman's best acting of his entire career. Who is this idiot that came up with "A Few Good Men" as no 1. Ugh, that movie is pedestrian at best.

    October 7, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • commishbob

      Absolutely agree. Perfectly cast movie. Newman was robbed of the Oscar due to the Gandhi hype. He won it the next year I believe on a 'make-up call'.

      The exclusion of The Verdict makes this list moot.

      October 7, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. David Goodloe

    Judgment at Nuremberg, Inherit the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird are my favorites.

    October 7, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Robe

    "A Few Good Men" ahead of "To Kill a Mockingbird" is just wrong!

    October 7, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. DG

    Judgement at Nuremburg should be remembered too. Another great Spencer Tracy role, as one among a great cast.

    October 7, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lorenzo

    how did "The Verdict "not make this list? Paul Newman in his finest late period role ,great script by David Mamet and a great supporting cast with James Masons oily/holy bad guy all wrapped in a gritty dark look by Sidney Lumet.

    October 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sarah

    I have to point out the ever underrated Primal Fear. Edward Norton was brilliant in that movie. Personally, I think it merits the top five even though it was never as popular as these movies.

    Other honorable mentions:
    A Time to Kill & The Client

    October 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Timc

    In addition to the list above, and in no particular order..
    The Rainmaker
    The Verdict
    The Accused
    Class Action
    ..and for a little comic relief, From The Hip.

    October 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. K-Man

    the Lincoln Lawyer would be my vote

    October 7, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |

    Great genre–great list–think Perry Mason might have been in the movies before he made it on TV.

    October 7, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  16. n2video

    "Inherit the Wind" is, by far, the best courtroom drama. Spencer Tracy in one of his best roles, and dialogue that applies perfectly to today's Bible-thumpers vs. scientists.
    "The Bible is a book. It is a good book. But it is not the only book!"

    October 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  17. DannieZ

    The Verdict with Paul Newman and James Mason

    October 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  18. theresa

    I am sorry, but we cannot forget about "My Cousin Vinnie," while not a drama, it is arguably my favorite courtroom movie.
    Vinny Gambini: Yeah, two yutes.
    Judge Chamberlain Haller: What is a yute?
    Vinny Gambini: [beat] Oh, excuse me, your honor...
    Vinny Gambini: Two YOUTHS.

    October 7, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • kim

      I agree – I was shocked not to see it on the list. It should be the top five courtroom dramas.

      October 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Megan

      totally agree!! That was the first movie I thought of when I saw this, My counsin Vinnie has to be on this list!

      October 7, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yosh

      how could i dare forget Vinnie?

      October 7, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Julie Hahn

    Judgement at Nuremberg and Inherit the Wind

    October 7, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  20. troothie

    Devils Advocate wasnt too bad i guess. It showed how these suit wearing people really are.

    October 7, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  21. the weasel

    u forgot jury duty and trial and error

    October 7, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  22. starrfire

    "A Time to Kill" (1996) is my all time favorite court movie.

    October 7, 2011 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • carrieanne

      I agree! You can't beat Matthew McConaughey's closing argument. And how did To Kill A Mockingbird NOT make #1????

      October 7, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  23. CATO

    most guys that wear shirts with a collar deserve a good sharp judo chop to the neck. HIIIII YA !

    October 7, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  24. jay tee

    Courtroom movies are the worst. They are about creeps wearing suits.

    October 7, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  25. jemma

    You too Good Portalpunk.

    October 7, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |

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