Legal Movies

What Are the Oscar Odds for Legal Thriller 'Michael Clayton'?


The legal thriller Michael Clayton has seven Oscar nominations, but its chances of a win may not be all that good, if history is any judge.

In 80 years, there have been only 10 wins for legal movies or actors who play lawyers, law professors, judges or legal assistants, reports the Fulton County Daily Report in an article written by its film critic. That amounts to about one win a decade.

The Gold Derby website favors No Country for Old Men for best picture and Daniel Day-Lewis for best actor, but Michael Clayton and its star, George Clooney, had respectable showings.

Slate magazine describes Michael Clayton as “an indictment of the mercenary universe of white-shoe law firms and a devastating—and unusually accurate—look at the demoralized lives of the lawyers who work for them.” It compares the movie’s depiction of an unraveling lawyer to Network, about an “unhinged” anchorman who becomes disenchanted with the network news business.

The Fulton County Daily reports lists the 10 legal-related winners of the last 80 years. The more recent winners listed are:

– Julia Roberts, who won for her portrayal of a legal assistant in Erin Brockovich.

– Tom Hanks, who won for his role in Philadelphia as a lawyer infected with AIDS who was fired by his law firm.

– John Houseman, who played a law professor in The Paper Chase.

Kramer v. Kramer, which won best picture.

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