October 25, 2020 6:56:46 pm
Good courtroom dramas are a delight to watch. There are arguments, discussions to be had. There is a logic to statements (usually). Hardly anything is uttered in vain. The recent Netflix release The Trial of the Chicago 7 is an example in case. Unfortunately, well-made courtroom features are hard to come by. They are few and far in between. We have managed to compile a list of similar insightful, engaging movies. Take a look.
A Few Good Men
Adapted for the screen by Aaron Sorkin (who has also helmed The Trial of the Chicago 7), A Few Good Men featured Demi Moore, Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Cuba Gooding Jr, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Pollak and Kiefer Sutherland in pivotal parts. The movie revolved around the court-martial of two US marines who are charged with the murder of their colleague. While Demi and Tom played lawyers, Nicholson essayed the role of a senior officer in the highly acclaimed film. A Few Good Men is about honesty, corruption, lies and the pressures of a demanding job. The highlight of the movie is the cross-questioning of Nicholson’s character by Cruise’s Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee.
You can watch the film on YouTube.
Paul Newman is grizzly, scarred, scared and defeated in the 1982 film The Verdict. The Sidney Lumet directorial was based on the novel of the same name. Newman plays an alcoholic lawyer whose consecutive legal defeats take a heavy toll on him. One day, he decides to take up a case that changes his life. Newman’s performance in the film is a thing of beauty. An anti-hero of sorts, his character is more than well-developed, and it is a great joy to see him come full circle during the course of the film. You feel his defeats, his worries and his angst as he takes on the system in a grand way.
The Verdict is available for streaming on YouTube.
This one is fairly recent. Starring Michael B Jordan, Jamie Foxx and Brie Larson in significant parts, Just Mercy is based on the real-life story of Walter McMillian, who, with the aid of an up and coming defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, appeals his murder conviction. Just Mercy has good intentions and is well-directed. At times, it becomes a little preachy, slightly more earnest than is good for cinematic purposes. But it is a solid film nonetheless.
Just Mercy is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
If you are familiar with the story of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, then Marshall’s plotline will seem familiar to you. The only stunning difference here is, while To Kill a Mockingbird is a fictional novel, Marshall is based on the first case of America’s first-ever African-American Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Revolving around a wrongly convicted black man, the legal drama is intense, pacy and boasts of powerful performances, especially by Chadwick Boseman and Sterling K Brown. The movie also stars Kate Hudson, Josh God and Dan Stevens.
Marshall is available for streaming on YouTube.
While the Spike Lee directorial is not a legal movie per se, it does deal with racial inequality and injustice, which are some of the primary themes of The Trial of the Chicago 7. There is Klu Klux Klan, an in-form Adam Driver, a stellar John David Washington, and generous amounts of comic relief despite the serious subject. A complete package. Definitely a movie of our times.
You can watch the film on Netflix
My Cousin Vinny
Now this is a little different. Despite being a courtroom film, My Cousin Vinny is a comedy that stars Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei in the lead roles. The inexperienced Vinny has never worked a case, but circumstances call upon him to defend his cousin for a wrongful murder charge. How he tackles the matter and works on himself are the highlights of the film.
Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. If these two are not big enough incentives for you to watch the film, then here’s the plot — Hanks’ character is asked to leave his job after a colleague discovers he has AIDS. This prompts Hanks’ Andrew to call on an old rival, Washington’s Joe Miller. Because Joe is the only lawyer willing to fight his case for discrimination and wrongful termination. What works for the film is the chemistry of the lead stars, which is nothing short of crackling.
Directed by Jonathan Demme, Philadelphia is available to stream on YouTube.
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