America's 100 Greatest Movies
100 YEARS...100 MOVIES


AFI's 10 Top 10 Film Genres

Part 9 - Courtroom Drama



Courtroom Dramas:
See Filmsite's extensive section on Drama Films including Courtroom Dramas

AFI described courtroom dramas as "a genre of film in which a system of justice plays a critical role in the film's narrative. Innocent until proven guilty. These four words inspire stories where the outcome may be the difference between life and death. The drama inherent in the theatre of a courtroom—the accused enters, prosecution and defense state their case, and a jury deliberates—all build to the moment when a verdict is read."

(Winners marked with this icon and ranking number)

  1. ABSENCE OF MALICE, Columbia, 1981
  2. THE ACCUSED Paramount, 1988
  3. ADAM'S RIB, MGM, 1949
  4. ADVISE & CONSENT, Columbia, 1962
  5. AMISTAD, DreamWorks, 1997
  6. ANATOMY OF A MURDER, Columbia, 1959 (# 7)
  7. …AND JUSTICE FOR ALL, Columbia, 1979
  8. BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT, RKO, 1956
  9. THE CAINE MUTINY, Columbia, 1954
  10. THE CHILDREN'S HOUR, United Artists, 1961
  11. THE CLIENT, Warner Bros., 1994
  12. COMPULSION, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1959
  13. THE CRUCIBLE, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1996
  14. A CRY IN THE DARK, Warner Bros., 1988 (# 9)
  15. ERIN BROCKOVICH, Universal, 2000
  16. A FEW GOOD MEN, Columbia, 1992 (# 5)
  17. FURY, MGM, 1936
  18. GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI, Columbia, 1996
  19. I CONFESS, Warner Bros., 1953
  20. I WANT TO LIVE!, United Artists, 1958
  21. IN COLD BLOOD, Columbia, 1967 (# 8)
  22. INHERIT THE WIND, United Artists, 1960
  23. THE INSIDER, Touchstone, 1999
  24. JAGGED EDGE, Columbia, 1985
  25. JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG, United Artists, 1961 (# 10)
  26. KRAMER VS. KRAMER, Columbia, 1979 (# 3)
  27. LEGALLY BLONDE, MGM, 2001
  28. LIBEL, MGM, 1959
  29. MADAME X, Universal, 1966
  30. A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, Columbia, 1966
  31. MY COUSIN VINNY, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1992
  32. THE ONION FIELD, AVCO Embassy, 1979
  33. PATHS OF GLORY, United Artists, 1957
  34. THE PELICAN BRIEF, Warner Bros., 1993
  35. THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT, Columbia, 1996
  36. PHILADELPHIA, TriStar, 1993
  37. PRESUMED INNOCENT, Warner Bros., 1990
  38. PRIMAL FEAR, Paramount, 1996
  39. THE RAINMAKER, Paramount, 1997
  40. REVERSAL OF FORTUNE, Warner Bros., 1990
  41. A SOLDIER'S STORY, Columbia, 1984
  42. SUSPECT, TriStar, 1987
  43. THE TALK OF THE TOWN, Columbia, 1942
  44. A TIME TO KILL, Warner Bros., 1996
  45. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, Universal, 1962 (# 1)
  46. 12 ANGRY MEN, United Artists, 1957 (# 2)
  47. THE VERDICT, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1982 (# 4)
  48. WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION, United Artists, 1957 (# 6)
  49. YOUNG MR. LINCOLN, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1939
  50. THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS, Warner Bros., 1959

Nominees: 20 of the 50 films involved a falsely accused defendant.

Winners: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) (# 1), 12 Angry Men (1957) (# 2), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) (# 3), The Verdict (1982) (# 4), A Few Good Men (1992) (# 5), Witness For the Prosecution (1957) (# 6), Anatomy of a Murder (1959) (# 7), In Cold Blood (1967) (# 8), A Cry in the Dark (1988) (# 9), Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) (# 10).

Comments: Legally Blonde (2001) - a courtroom drama and top 50 pick??!! There were better, more classic courtroom dramatic films than A Cry in the Dark (1988), such as Inherit the Wind (1960), Paths of Glory (1957), and Philadelphia (1993), which should all have been in the top 10. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) was basically a drama - little of the film takes place in a courtroom. 12 Angry Men (1957) should have been the # 1 Courtroom Drama, and JFK (1991) should have been a nominee.


AFI's 10 Top 10 Film Genres
Introduction | Part 1 - Animated | Part 2 - Fantasy | Part 3 - Gangster | Part 4 - Science Fiction | Part 5 - Western
Part 6 - Sports | Part 7 - Mystery | Part 8 - Romantic Comedy | Part 9 - Courtroom Drama | Part 10 - Epic



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