In this all-time classic film -- which won the Oscars for best picture, best director (Elia Kazan), best actor (Marlon Brando), best supporting actress (Eva Marie Saint) and best adapted screenplay (Budd Schulberg), among others -- Terry Malloy (Brando), a working-class guy who runs in questionable circles, is plagued by guilt and ultimately agrees to testify about union corruption on the Hoboken docks after unwittingly helping to facilitate the union-authorized murder of a man whose sister (Saint) later becomes his lover.
The Harder They Fall (1956)
This Mark Robson film, which was inspired by the Primo Carnera boxing scandal and adapted from Budd Schulberg's novel of the same title, features Humphrey Bogart as a down-on-his-luck reporter who takes work publicizing a shady promoter's new boxer, only to discover that the boxer's fights are fixed and the promoter is letting the boxer get brutalized and then underpaying him. Eventually, he intervenes on behalf of the boxer and begins writing an exposé about corruption in the sport.
In this Sidney Lumet film about NYPD officer Frank Serpico -- an idealistic cop who agreed to go undercover and, over the course of 12 years, helped to expose and root out corruption in the force -- Al Pacino (Oscar-nominated for his portrayal of the title character) gives one of the most iconic performances of his illustrious career.
All the President's Men (1976)
"Deep Throat" (Hal Holbrook) -- who decades later identified himself as FBI agent Mark Felt -- feeds tips about corruption in the Nixon Administration to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) in this adaptation of the newsmen's best-selling 1974 book.
The China Syndrome (1979)
In James Bridges' haunting film, a nuclear power plant almost melts down during a visit by a television reporter (Jane Fonda) and cameraman (Michael Douglas), whose resulting footage was snuck out of the facility to be shown to experts. When the company that owns the billion-dollar facility and hopes to keep the incident quiet finds out about the breach, it begins to threaten and intimidate the reporter and cameraman.
Prince of the City (1981)
Sidney Lumet's crime drama, which was inspired by real events, is about an NYPD officer (Treat Williams) who is approached by the FBI to report on corruption in the department and agrees to do so in return for leniency for his own role in it, provided he does not have to name specific colleagues -- but who nonetheless winds up having his loyalty questioned.
This film -- which the Academy rewarded with noms for best director (Mike Nichols), best actress (Meryl Streep), best supporting actress (Cher), best original screenplay (Nora Ephron and Alice Arlen) and best film editing -- retells the true story of Karen Silkwood (Streep), an employee at a plutonium plant and a labor union activist who, along with some colleagues, was contaminated by radiation after an accident at the plant. Her employer tried to pin the blame on her, but she discovered and disseminated evidence that they were covering up the truth -- only to die under mysterious circumstances shortly thereafter.
The Firm (1993)
This Sydney Pollack adaptation of John Grisham's book stars Tom Cruise as Mitch McDeere, an up-and-coming young lawyer who is recruited by the FBI to help investigate the fact that every lawyer who has ever attempted to leave his firm has eventually been murdered. McDeere is torn between providing the FBI with the information they request (and in so doing possibly violating attorney-client privilege, which could lead to disbarment) or remaining with the firm (thus potentially setting himself up to go down with his colleagues when the FBI finally moves in on them). He eventually finds a way to "thread the needle" between the two options.
The Insider (1999)
Michael Mann's dramatic thriller, revolves around Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe in an Oscar-nominated performance), a former research biologist for a cigarette company who is approached by a 60 Minutes producer (Al Pacino) to talk about malpractice on the part of the cigarette industry. Initially reluctant to do so, he changes his mind when his employers pressure him. He grants an interview to Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer), revealing that Big Tobacco was not only aware that cigarettes were addictive and harmful, but actually worked to increase their addictiveness.
Years before the real identity of "Deep Throat" was known, this comedy suggested that "he" might actually be two D.C.-area teenagers (Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst) who stumbled upon the Watergate break-in and were subsequently hired as Nixon's dog-walkers as part of an effort to keep them quiet -- which ultimately proves unsuccessful.
Erin Brockovich (2000)
This film brought Steven Soderbergh one of his two best director Oscar nominations in 2001 (he ended up winning the prize for Traffic) and Julia Roberts a best actress Oscar for her portrayal of the title character, a real working-class single mom who, as a law clerk, stumbled upon evidence that a big gas and electric company was knowingly poisoning people through contaminated water and helped to organize a major class-action lawsuit against them.
The Constant Gardener (2005)
The wife of a British diplomat in Kenya (Rachel Weisz in an Oscar-winning performance) is killed while attempting to expose wrongdoing on the part of a large pharmaceutical company, prompting her husband (Ralph Fiennes) to crisscross the globe in search of the truth.
North Country (2005)
After a large number of female mine workers are subjected to verbal and physical abuse by their male superiors and colleagues, and the company's higher-ups refuse to do anything about it, one female employee (Charlize Theron in an Oscar-nominated performance) rallies a bunch of her reluctant colleagues (including Frances McDormand, also nominated for an Oscar) to take their employer to court at the risk of their jobs.
Michael Clayton (2007)
A ruthless corporate "fixer" (George Clooney in an Oscar-nominated performance) faces a crisis of conscience when he is asked to work on behalf of a chemical company that knowingly contaminated an entire Wisconsin community and aims, via its own legal counsel (Tilda Swinton in an Oscar-winning performance), to cover it up.
This 2007 thriller, based on a true story, chronicles how FBI agent Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper) is exposed as a spy for the Soviet Union by Eric O'Neill (Ryan Phillippe), a young man whom he had mentored at the agency.
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2009)
Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith's Oscar-nominated doc recounts the story of Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971, as a U.S. military analyst working for the RAND Corporation, accessed and leaked to newspapers thousands of top-secret documents about the government's honest assessment of the state of the then-ongoing Vietnam War -- documents that came to be known as the Pentagon Papers -- infuriating the Nixon Administration and earning the title moniker from the embattled president.
The Informant! (2009)
Writer-director Steven Soderbergh and actor Matt Damon -- frequent collaborators -- teamed up for this outlandish crime dramedy that was inspired by the real life story of Mark Whitacre (Damon), a promising employee at Archer Daniels Midland who, at the urging of his wife, tips off the FBI about the company's price-fixing tactics -- even though in doing so he also implicates himself in criminal activity that might otherwise have escaped notice.
The Whistleblower (2010)
Larysa Kondracki's criminally overlooked thriller, which was inspired by a true story, features a tour-de-force performance by Rachel Weisz as Kathryn Bolkovac, an American policeman who accepted a high-paying temporary job with the United Nations peacekeeping force in Bosnia in order to finance a move to be closer to her daughter, who lives with Bolkovac's ex-husband. In Bosnia, Knodracki uncovers a global sex trafficking operation in which members of her own organization are active participants and enablers, prompting her -- at a great risk to her own life -- to fight relentlessly to help the victims and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Fair Game (2010)
Ripped from the headlines of the day, this Doug Liman film tells the true story of Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts), an undercover CIA agent who was "outed" by her own government after her husband, U.S. diplomat Joe Wilson (Sean Penn), publicly accused the Bush Administration of citing information that he had personally discredited as justification for the war in Iraq.
Semper Fi: Always Faithful (2012)
Tony Hardmon and Rachel Libert's powerful film, which made the short list of 15 films from which the five best documentary feature Oscar nominees were ultimately chosen, chronicles the heartrending experience of Jerry Ensminger, a lifelong military man who is forced to pursue legal action against the Marine Corps after discovering that the death of his 9-year-old daughter -- and that of many other military people and their families who also lived at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune -- was probably caused by water contamination, which some in the military were aware of and helped to cover up.
We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (2013)
In this recent documentary, Oscar winner Alex Gibney offers a look at the rise to prominence of Julian Assange and his secrets-exposing organization WikiLeaks, WikiLeaks' association with Pvt. Bradley Manning and the infighting that has plagued the organization in recent years. Coincidentally, it was released just before the name Edward Snowden was made famous by a series of other leaks.