Courtroom Movies Based On True Stories

Monday, March 28 by Megan Bushree

The following list is a look at courtroom movies based on true stories. There is something intriguing about any good courtroom drama, but when the story is based on actual events, that makes everything a little more interesting. Here is a look at five films that showed that truth is often better than fiction.

  1. "A Few Good Men" With an all-star cast that includes Tom Cruise, Demi Moore and a scenery-chewing Jack Nicholson, "A Few Good Men" is a memorable courtroom drama from the '90s. Cruise shows intensity as a rookie lawyer who is thrust into a major court case concerning two marines accused of murdering one of their fellow marines. A great film of verbal sparring and a great source for playing six degrees of Kevin Bacon.
  2. "Philadelphia" The drama that helped garner Tom Hanks his first Academy Award. "Philadelphia" tells the story of a lawyer (Hanks) who is fired after his employer learns that he is afflicted with AIDS. Denzel Washington plays the homophobic lawyer that takes his case. The film was based loosely on the first case of AIDS discrimination in the work place.
  3. "The Accused" Another courtroom movie that won its lead an Academy Award, Jodi Foster took home gold for portraying a real life rape victim. Sarah Tobias (Foster) is brutally gang raped in a seedy bar with witnesses that take no action. After a court case that let's the rapists off with a mere slap on the wrist, the enraged Sarah decides to take matters into her own hands. With the assistance of an attorney (Kelly McGillis), Sarah is able to prosecute the witnesses who watched in silence.
  4. "conviction" Hilary Swank plays Betty Anne Waters, an uneducated single mother who does everything she can to help her brother after he is convicted for murder. Believing that her brother is wrongfully accused, Waters gets her GED and continues her education by ultimately receiving her law degree in order to appeal her brother's case. Swank once again dives into a role with total conviction. Sam Rockwell disappears into his role as the accused brother.
  5. "Amistad" A 1997 courtroom film directed by legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg. The historical drama is based on a court case aboard the Amistad in 1839. The case was concerning the slave mutiny on the ship that was heading to the northeastern coast of America. The cast includes Morgan Freeman and Matthew McConaughey amidst a very long list of familiar faces.