movies & entertainment

10 Courtroom Dramas to Make Your Weekend Suspenseful

Sheena Joseph | May 02 2021
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The reality of a courtroom might be long and boring. But there is a certain glory in the fight for justice. This is one of the reasons that courtroom dramas fare well with audiences. People love to enjoy the developments of an entire case under two hours. However, some movies fail to capture the essence of this fight for justice and end up paying more attention to other common themes. Which is why it is important to find a well-written courtroom drama to enjoy the suspense. Here are some of the best courtroom dramas.

1) The Trial of Chicago 7

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Based on a true story, 'The Trial of Chicago 7' takes a trip down the memory lane of one of America's historic cases. In 1968, thousands of people gathered in Chicago to protest against the Vietnam war. However, the peaceful protest ends in a riot with the protestors and police. Leaders of the protest are charged with conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intention of inciting riots. The trial was said to be premeditated to convict them. The movie explores the lack of empathy and prejudice the court had for civil activists. The movie ends with one of the defendants reading out the names of 4,752 soldiers who were killed in the Vietnam War since the trial began.

2) Pink

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This 2016 Indian Hindi language film was hailed as one of the most important films ever made in the country. The social thriller even emerged as a commercial thriller due to its engaging plot. ‘Pink’ focuses on the lives of three independent women who live together. They are arrested based on a complaint by Rajveer who has labelled the women as prostitutes and accuses Minal (one of the women) of attempted murder. The trial reveals that the men tried to sexually assault them and they attacked in self-defence. The movie focuses on themes like consent and a woman's right to say no. After ‘Pink’ was released, it brought forth many conversations about how men are not taught to understand that 'no' is a complete sentence regardless of the woman's clothes or character or behaviour.

3) 12 Angry Men

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'12 Angry Men' is about a jury of 12 men as they deliberate the conviction or acquittal of an 18-year-old defendant. In the beginning, most of them cannot wait to treat it as a slam dunk case. However, one of the members convinces them to consider reasonable doubt. Other 11 members have to agree because the decision has to be unanimous. In the process, they are forced to face their prejudice, morals, and values. 

4) Erin Brockovich

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'Erin Brockovich' is a biographical legal drama based on the life of the namesake who fought against the energy corporation Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). Erin works as a legal clerk to a lawyer, and out of her curiosity, finds that the corporation is getting away with contaminating groundwater. Erin Brockovich went on to be an environmental activist and author. She was played by Julia Roberts in the movie. The legal drama explores the process from Erin accidentally finding a document to her curious investigation becoming fruitful.

5) The Social Network

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'The Social Network' is a biographical drama adapted from the book 'The Accidental Billionaires'. The plot explores the founding of Facebook and the lawsuits that followed. The movie starts off with the birth of the idea of a website that was considerably different from what Facebook currently is. The resulting lawsuits were filed by partners who worked on the idea and building the website in the initial days of Facebook. Eduardo Saverin accused that his shares of Facebook were unfairly diluted when the company was incorporated despite being the co-founder. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss claim that Zuckerberg stole the idea from their own social networking site ‘HarvardConnection’.

6) Jolly LLB

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'Jolly LLB' is an Indian legal comedy starring Arshad Warsi and Boman Irani. The film revolves around a rich boy who is accused of drunken driving which leads to the death of six people sleeping on the footpath. He is defended by a prominent criminal lawyer. Jolly is a small-time lawyer who goes against the big-time lawyer in the hopes of making his career. The movie explores the monopolistic behaviour of the rich and judicial corruption existing in the Indian system. The storyline of 'Jolly LLB' is inspired by the 1999 hit-and-run case of Sanjeev Nanda and Priyadarshini Mattoo case.

7) Mulk

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'Mulk' is a Hindi-language film that went on to get positive reviews from critics and popularity for its subject. The movie is about a Muslim family trying to reclaim its lost honor after a family member gets involved in terrorism. While the young son of the family is killed while resisting arrest, the family is also charged and taken to court despite being clueless about any illegal activity. Based on a true incident, the plot explores how quickly religious sentiments turn life-long neighbors into enemies. The 'us against them' mentality is revealed as the root cause of the clashes in society.

8) OMG! Oh My God

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'OMG! Oh My God' is a satirical comedy-drama exploring how religion has become a business. The movie is an official remake of the Australian film The Man Who Sued God. As the name suggests, the plot revolves around a middle-class atheist named Mehta who lost his shop in an earthquake. The insurance firm refuses his claim citing the clause 'Act of God'. He sues the insurance firm and priests of all religions as representatives of God. The film was lauded for focusing on how fraudulent God-men has built a system to take advantage of commoners’ faith.

9) Punyalan Agarbattis

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'Punyalan Agarbattis' is a Malayalam satirical comedy on the struggles of a young entrepreneur. The plot follows Joy Thakkolkaran who runs a company that produces incense sticks from elephant dung. He constantly is faced with legal complications in the process of acquiring raw material and opposition from a political party for working on the day of a hartal. The film focuses on how hard it is for a commoner turned entrepreneur to get his business off the ground. Unlike many legal dramas, 'Punyalan Agarbattis' manages to bring a lighter mood to courtrooms on most occasions.

10) The Accused

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'The Accused' is loosely based on a disturbing real-life incident that took place in 1983. The infamous gang rape of Cheryl Araujo in New Bedford and the trial that followed had received national coverage. The plot exposes the classism, misogyny, slut-shaming, and victim-blaming that led to the assault of a young waitress at a local bar when many cheered and watched. 'The Accused' is known for being one of the first films to deal with the aftermath of rape in a victim's life and psyche. Jodie Foster won an Oscar for playing Cheryl Araujo.