They’re not the most popular movies in the law and justice category, but they’ve lasted the test of time.
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Hollywood has been dominated by law and justice films for years, whether they’re set in a courtroom or are expansive thrillers. The genre, though, hasn’t always been as popular as it is now, and there are a number of lesser-known films that haven’t gotten the attention they deserve.
These are the movies that stand out from the rest and are regarded as timeless and impactful classics because of their performers, directors, or plots. To honor the greatest of this genre, it’s time to look back. The following is a list of the ten most influential films on the subject of law and justice, as determined by IMDb.
1. The Accused (1988) – 7.1
This is one of the most powerful female-led justice films out there, and it’s even more astounding for a film from the late 1980s, a time when legal dramas and thrillers were the norm.
Even though the odds appear to be stacked against her, Kathryn Murphy (Kelly McGillis) is tasked with bringing the gang rapists to justice, no matter how difficult it may be.
This film won an Oscar for Jodie Foster’s performance as Sarah, but there is so much more to praise. In more ways than one, The Accused altered the role of justice, sex, and gender in Hollywood legal dramas.
2. And Justice For All (1979) – 7.4
In the ’70s, Norman Jewison directed and Al Pacino starred in this underrated crime thriller. As a lawyer, Pacino must defend a corrupt judge in this film.
In this gripping and exciting courtroom drama, he tries to find true justice for those who are innocent and those who are guilty. Furthermore, Pacino’s compelling performance is undeniable.
3. Law Abiding Citizen (2009) – 7.4
While many films have featured vigilante punishment, this famous and relatively recent classic is no exception. Law Abiding Citizen, starring Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx, tells the story of a man who chooses to take matters into his own hands when a plea deal and a technicality allow the killer of his family to walk free.
7.4/10, yet it’s one of the most important works on justice and ethical dilemmas when it comes to putting matters into your own hands. The rise of the “vigilante thriller” in Hollywood may be traced directly to this picture.
4. My Cousin Vinny (1992) – 7.6
On this list, there is just one film with the ability to be both a comedy and a drama at the same time. Bill and Stan, two New Yorkers on trial for murder in Alabama, are being followed by my cousin Vinny. As a last resort, they turn to their lawyer cousin Vinny (Joe Pesci). Vinny, on the other hand, is a brash attorney with little trial experience.
When it comes to justice films, this is one of the best hilarious criminal thrillers ever made. My Cousin Vinny stands out above the rest for its hilarious brilliance, and Joe Pesci is brilliant in this fairly underestimated part.
5. Philadelphia (1993) – 7.7
Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks feature in this film, which was directed by Jonathan Demme. The story revolves around Andy Beckett (Hanks), a lawyer who discovers he has HIV and is consequently sacked from his firm. Andy has little choice but to resort to Joe Miller, an originally homophobic attorney, for help after being turned down by a number of other lawyers (Washington). To bring Andy’s previous bosses to justice, they forge an unexpected alliance.
It’s hard to believe this ’90s drama won two Oscars, but it’s absolutely worth a look. If you’re looking for a film that tackles serious topics of sexuality, justice, discrimination, and law, Philadelphia is a must-see.
6. Anatomy Of A Murder (1959) – 8.0
One man stands trial for the killing of a bartender after raping and beating his wife. The defendant claims insanity in this early film. After a defendant pleads “not guilty,” lawyers work tirelessly to secure justice and protect their clients.
Oscar-nominated Otto Preminger directed this crime thriller starring James Stewart, Eve Arden, and Lee Remick, which was nominated for seven Academy Awards. It’s safe to say that Anatomy of a Murder is a classic in the genre.
7. In The Name Of The Father (1993) – 8.1
Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Gerry Conlon in this biographical drama that takes place during a tumultuous time in the history of Ireland. A group of five Irish men, including Gerry and his father, are pushed by British officials into admitting to involvement in a Provisional IRA bombing that results in their imprisonment. In an effort to release them and clear their reputations, an English lawyer is working.
For its dramatic political setting, acting roles, and compelling story about justice, this film exploded onto the movie landscape. In the Name of the Father, Jim Sheridan’s film, was nominated for seven Academy Awards.
8. To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)
To Kill a Mockingbird is a film adaptation of Harper Lee’s best-known novel. Gregory Peck, John Megna, Frank Overton, and Robert Duvall feature in this Oscar-winning film, which was directed by Robert Mulligan. White lawyer defends black man accused of rape while trying to nurture his curious children at a time of civil turmoil.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel about the complicated interplay between race and justice in the South during the Great Depression, as well as a story of family and adolescence. Due to its long-term significance, this courtroom drama is more than just a standard courtroom play.
9. 12 Angry Men (1957) – 8.9
Sidney Lumet directed this ’50s-era crime film, and it’s one of his best works. This film, which stars Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb, was much ahead of its time and remains compelling even today in many respects.
In the case of a young Hispanic kid accused of murdering his father, a jury must decide whether or not he is guilty of the crime. Deliberation is the focus of the entire film, with remarkable monologues and intriguing controversies woven into the story. Because of its captivating plot and significance to the medium, 12 Angry Men has been reworked and homaged numerous times.
10. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – 9.3
drama is also one of the most popular movies ever filmed. Frank Darabont’s film, starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, tells the story of a prisoner’s existence.
Shawshank Redemption tells the story of two convicts striving to redeem themselves and the criminal justice system in a bleak prison setting. An essential viewing for anybody interested in films about justice, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, this 1990s adaptation was much ahead of its time.