Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In Honor of the LSAT

Yesterday, I took what is hopefully the first step in becoming a law student.  The formidable LSAT wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but still pretty rough.  But, in honor of my taking the LSAT, I thought I'd compile a few of my favorite lawyer performances.  Mostly from movies, but a few from TV.  Enjoy and comment.

10. Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird
This would be higher, I think, but it's such an obvious choice.  Peck is remarkable as the stoic father in the adaptation of Harper Lee's novel.  But, as much as I loved his performance in the courtroom scene, his scenes at home with Scout are the highlight of the movie.  So his performance is less lawyer, and more awesome father.

09. Susan Sarandon in The Client
I love lawyer performances that are totally against the law.  That is to say, I'm not quite sure anything Sarandon's character does in The Client is legal nor am I sure she'd have survived the situation without being disbarred.  But in the end, it's not a portrayal of legalities, but rather of love.  And she knocks it out of the park.

08. Maximillian Schell in Judgement at Nuremberg
Schell won an Oscar for his passionate and utterly brilliant performance in Stanley Kramer, as a lawyer who brings up some sticky moral arguments regarding the Nazis and how they were condemned.  The performance is so powerful you begin to question your own opinions.

07. Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde
How fabulous was Reese in this?  Sure she's not really a lawyer at all in the movie, but the point is is that she does lawyerly things, like solve the case at the end of the movie, thereby proving to everyone she's smart enough!  I jump every time she connects the perm to the shower to the murder!  

06. Jim Carrey in Liar Liar
This is still a very surprising performance from Carrey.  Even with his more famous dramatic turns, this was the turning point for him I think.  Yes he did his typical funny thing, but in the middle of that he's dealing with being a total tool and in the process loosing his child.  It's a really sad reality, and the movie forces him to go from scumbag lawyer to good father.

05. Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny
Can anyone tell me anything that's not amazing about this performance?  Pesci is a great actor, but this was really the first time I saw him do comedy.  Sure he did it in Home Alone, but this was a different breed entirely.  His perfect ability to seemingly make up things on the spot is hilarious, and his chemistry with the entire cast specifically Marissa Tomei and Lane Smith is something other actors must covet.  "Two yoots."  Love it.

04. Al Pacino in ...And Justice for All.
What's not to love about Al Pacino?  I've always thought this was the best performance of his career.  His balance of comedy and drama masterful, and his legal mentality is nothing short of spitfire.  His performance demands him to both care about his clients, juggle them with his life, and find a light at the end of the tunnel.  Great performance.  Also gave us the end-all courtroom drama quote, "YOU'RE OUT OF ORDER! THIS WHOLE COURT IS OUT OF ORDER!"

03. James Spader in "Boston Legal" and "The Practice"
Has there ever been a better closing argument delivered than James Spader...in every episode of "Boston Legal"? I don't think so.  Spader's delishious ability to relish the best words and covey the desperation in defense of his client was most likely the causation of his 3 well-deserved Emmy awards for this character.  Whenever "Boston Legal" tackled major public issues, I dare any audience member watching not to change their stance into whatever Spader was arguing for.  He was brilliant.

02. Richard Gere in Chicago
The definition of a shark.  He's sheer perfection.

01. John Houseman in The Paper Chase
As the law teacher from hell, Houseman won an Oscar for his cold portrayal in the terrifyingly accurate law school movie The Paper Chase.  He's a jerk, he's frigid, and you know he cares about you in the smallest of smallest ways.  I hope I don't have anyone like him.

1 comment:

  1. Great list! I loved all of your choices and the reasoning behind them. Perhaps my only two changes in order would be to move James Spader up to #1 and Gregory Peck up to #3 with John Houseman at #2 and each of the others sliding back one position. Trite changes to a great list...well done. Spader's closings were just so fantastic week after week that I think shear longevity of excellence gives him the top position in my mind.