Bound to happen when a cast is made up this many talented actors in juicy parts where they all have to compete in the same category. Sacha Baron Cohen ended up stealing most of the awards love, including the lone acting nomination at the Oscars. Depending on who you ask, certain fans will say that they thought the likes of Mark Rylance, Frank Langella, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, or Eddie Redmayne should've been nominated alongside Baron Cohen, or in place of him. Most noticeable in the case of Rylance, who was initially considered one of the categories frontrunners.
While he got nominated for his script, Aaron Sorkin didn't make the director lineup at the Oscars despite having enough people in his corner to make several precursors.
Despite only being a small role, Ramsey Clark wound up being a favorite of many viewers due to selflessly sticking up for the defendants while simultaneously giving the ultimate middle finger to the antagonists. Michael Keaton received a fair amount of praise, with his subtle performance standing out amongst all the other highly charged principal cast members.
Flashbacks show Rennie bleeding from a head wound after being beaten by the police. Mere months after the film's release, the real Davis died of lymphoma, the symptoms of which include head and neck pain.
The content concerning Fred Hampton's murder is already upsetting here. A few months later, audiences would get to see this offscreen event play out in Judas and the Black Messiah. And it's even more nightmarish than this movie's recap would lead you to believe.
He Really Can Act: Sacha Baron Cohen plays Abbie Hoffman perfectly, bringing in his famous comedic timing while also delivering some genuinely heartfelt and solemn moments. In an ensemble full of award winning dramatic actors, Baron Cohen was widely seen as one of, if not the strongest performance in an excellent cast.
Love to Hate: Judge Julius Hoffman is an absolutely deplorable Hanging Judge, but the combination of his utterly loathsome nature, being a fantastic opponent against our heroes, and Frank Langellaís towering performance makes him an excellent villain.
Narm: The final scene, whilst effective in its message, goes too far into crowd-pleasing Oscar Bait territory. The musical score is especially ham-fisted and cliched, almost to the point of parody.
Narm Charm: Some defend the final scene, believing that the message and performances are powerful enough to overcome iffy execution.
Older Than They Think: This is not the first adaptation of the Chicago Seven trial. 1989's Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago Eight beat Sorkin to that punch, though Sorkin absolutely had a bigger audience than the talented unknowns who worked on ''Conspiracy.
Ramsey Clark only appears in two scenes, but his eagerness to ally with the Chicago Seven and Michael Keatonís nuanced portrayal makes him one of the movieís most memorable characters.
Juror #6, the youngest and most sympathetic of the jurors, who is dismissed from the jury after the judge bullies her into saying that she can't be completely impartial.
John Doman as Greater-Scope Villain John N. Mitchell only appears in one scene, but it proves to be a memorable one, showing him as a petty, ruthless asshole who is absolutely determined to take down our heroes.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Dellinger is a nuanced Nice Guy, Family Man, and Actual Pacifist with a history of anti-war activism dating back to World War II. He's also played by the very talented John Carroll Lynch. Unfortunately, outside of his introductory scene, the flashbacks to the riot, and the scene where he snaps and punches a bailiff, he's mostly a passive spectator throughout the story. The film also fails to emphasize Dellinger's friendships with Abbie, Hayden, and even Fred Hampton, which could have helped him ease tensions between his fellow defendants.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: In real-life, several cops who beat protestors were indicted at the same time as The Chicago 8 (and by the same prosecutors), but this goes unmentioned when it could have further humanized Schultz and Foran and drawn more attention to the Police Brutality.
Bobby Seale really gets it bad here. Heís arrested and linked together with the Chicago Seven despite having no affiliation for them, just so his presence as a Black Panther will make them look bad. He goes into the trial with no lawyer, with his chosen one being in the hospital, putting him at an enormous disadvantage against the corrupt and racist Judge Hoffman. Seale repeatedly tries to speak up for himself, only to be shut down by Hoffman over and over. Eventually while still detained he hears that his friend and ally Fred Hampton has been executed. Outraged, Seale speaks viciously out against this injustice in court, which causes him to be taken out, beaten, chained up, gagged, and then brought back into the courtroom in this humiliating state. Even after this when heís let go, Judge Hoffman still reminds Seale that heís facing other charges, making it clear that his suffering still isnít over.
David Dellinger is the most levelheaded of the Chicago Seven, making it clear that the protests are to be 100% peaceful, and doing everything he can to avert any physical confrontations between the protestors and police. Despite his best efforts, riots break out, which end with his arrest. He tries to remain calm and cooperative throughout the entire trial process, but as the months go by, it becomes clear that itís taken its toll on him resulting in him having a Freak Out where he speaks out against Judge Hoffman, gets manhandled by security repeatedly until he canít take it anymore and assaults an officer, causing him to be embarrassingly dragged out of the courtroom in front of his wife and child. And as he is dragged out, his only reaction is to apologise to the guard he struck.
Jerry Rubin seemingly finds someone special in Daphne O'Connor, not knowing that she's an undercover FBI agent whose actively trying to get Rubin arrested. When Rubin sees her taking the stand against him, he appears totally crushed, and later explicitly refers to his heart being broken.
Tom Hayden is one of the more moderate defendants in the case, but much of what happens winds up being blamed on him for the time that one grammatical error winds up getting him and his fellow protestors beaten and arrested. All this is later made totally clear to Hayden in a humiliating moment where he realizes his error and is shown to be incapable of taking the stand. Additionally, his temperate attitude during the trial and accidentally paying respect to Judge Hoffman causes him to be viewed as a Token Evil Teammate for his own cause.