Saturday, March 22, 2008

My Top 10 Political Movies

**Disclaimer** I haven't seen many of the most acclaimed political movies such as: Bulworth, The Candidate, Doctor Strangelove, Election, and (the original) Manchurian Candidate

Here is a list of my 10 favorite movies about American politics. This isn't a list of the best movies (so 1949's All the King's Men is left off), but the ones I enjoy the most:

10. Dave (1993)- One of the great fantasy movies ever. A regular guy winds up president. It makes you wonder what you'd do in the Oval Office, and lament that the country has to be run by those hardened enough to make it to the top.

9. Citizen Kane (1941)- It drags on a bit, but over 65 years after its release, Citizen Kane still holds up as relevant and chilling. Maybe that's why AFI ranks it as the greatest movie ever made.

8. Charlie Wilson's War (2007)- Takes (more than) a few liberties with the true story of America's proxy war in Afghanistan, which was the crossroads of modern- American history. In one dramatic turn we exchanged Red Soviets for Radical Islamic fundamentalists. Great writing (Sorkin) and acting (Hanks, Hoffman).

7. JFK (1991)- Makes Charlie Wilson's War look like a documentary, but Oliver Stone provides a riveting account of what many don't realize is a true story- Jim Garrison's prosecution of Clay Shaw for the murder of John Kennedy in 1967. The trial may have been bunk, but the movie is excellent, especially the scene with Donald Sutherland around the Reflecting Pool.

6. Wag the Dog (1997)- The meeting of Hollywood and DC, this satire was a poignant comment on the state of American democracy, media, and culture.

5. All the President's Men (1976)- Chilling performances that brought home Watergate. It's scary 'cause it's true.

4. 13 Days (2000)- For a guy who's been in a lot of terrible movies, Kevin Costner has been in a lot of great movies. The film taught a new generation about the earth- rattling days of the Cuban missile crisis. The taut pace earns this un- romanticized portrayal high marks.

3. Nixon (1995)- A stunning portrait of one of the most tragic American figures, whose greatest strengths led to his shocking fall. Stone chronicles the painful trip from a depressed California farm, to the White House, to disgrace, and does justice to a man who had the faculties and opportunity for greatness, but failed to overcome himself.

2. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)- The classic American film of idealism, cynicism and redemption. A lot like Dave, only a lot better.

1. Primary Colors (1998)- The movie has everything: drama, laughs, and surprises. It's the quintessential tale of American politics because it runs the gamut and doesn't oversimplify- it covers the excitement and tedium of campaigns, and its characters appeal to our ideals, but shock us with their flaws. It's also endless fun to figure out on whom each character is based, in this satire of Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign.


anne sather said...

You forgot the greatest comedy/political movie ever--Dick (1999)! Kirsten Dunst? Michelle Williams? It's a can't miss!

Steve Kemetko's BF said...

Where on this list would the West Wing rank if you could include political television as well as political movies?

Chris Meehan said...

anywhere in the top 3

Stevekrik said...

Wow... Dave is only #10?

And what about:
- Airforce One
- Man of the Year
- Braveheart
- Dick
- And the movie Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams were in...

Anonymous said...

I would add Syriana for a lesson in how the world 'really' works. Politics on a macro level.