The 'Movie Maven' judges courtroom dramas

A view from the bar in the remodeled courtroom
Stephanie Curtis, aka the "Movie Maven", lists what she thinks are the all-time best and worst courtroom dramas.
MPR Photo/Ross Holtan

Midday with the "Movie Maven" continues, as Stephanie Curtis lists her all-time best and worst courtroom dramas.

The Movie Maven's Top 5 Courtroom Movies

1. 12 Angry Men - Feels dated now in many ways but is still a gripping portrait of the psychology behind the jury system.

2. Witness for the Prosecution - What a perfect combination: Agatha Christie told by Billy Wilder.

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3. My Cousin Vinny - There's nothing more to say. I like the movie.

4. Anatomy of a Murder - A real judge. A real courtroom. Jimmy Stewart in one of my favorite parts as a small town lawyer.

5. 'Breaker' Morant - A film about the court martial of Australian soldiers at the beginning of the 20th century. Same idea as A Few Good Men (do you have to break the law to defend your country?) but better.

The Movie's Maven's 5 Worst Courtroom Movies

1. Primal Fear - OK. Well done in many ways (I like Richard Gere, folks) but the whole lawyer crushing a witness on the stand and getting them to tearfully confess is so silly.

2. From the Hip - Judd Nelson as an irascible young lawyer who gets ahead by being outrageous. Dumb and boring. The writer, David E. Kelley went on to create the TV series Ally McBeal and Boston Public.

3. The Good Mother - A listless adaptation of a bestselling novel. A good example of a courtroom drama trying to take on important issues and losing its way completely. Unwatchable.

4. Body of Evidence - Madonna is accused of killing a man with her body. Lawyer Willem Dafoe must defend her but can he resist her? Ickily enough, he can't.

5. Suspect - The worst of the "lawyer gets involved with a (witness, juror, the judge, the defendant) movies. See also: Jagged Edge.