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Everyone loves a good political flick, but some are definitely better than others. If you find yourself in a political mood during this election season, here are CU Independent’s Top 10 Political Movies to add to your Netflix Queue.
10.) “Wag the Dog” (1997)
Staring Dustin Hoffman and Robert de Niro, this political film has a unique and comedic story line. Caught in a sex scandal, the president hires a Hollywood producer to fabricate a war in Albania, which he will then step in and solve in order to be the hero and save his reputation. Hoffman won an Oscar for his phenomenal work in this film that will remain a political movie staple for many years to come.
9.) “The Candidate” (1972)
This political drama follows the campaign of Bill McKay, chronicling his struggles as a political candidate. Beginning his race as an idealistic man fighting to be the voice of the people, McKay slowly begins to change as we begin to see the lengths one man will go in order to win a coveted seat in Congress. This film is crucial to political film history as it documents a journey that begin with only the best intentions, but become a moral fight against good and evil, where the right choice is never clearly marked.
8.) “Frost/Nixon” (2008)
Three years after Nixon resigned from office he remained silent about the controversial happenings that ultimately pushed him out of the presidency. In 1977 he agreed to an interview where he was to divulge many of the secrets from his presidency and the Watergate scandal. David Frost, a British television personality looking for fame, was the lucky reporter to interview Nixon. The interview becomes a showdown between two forces that makes for an explosive, tell-all movie. Nominated for 5 Oscars, this film proves to be an enthralling film depicting one of the most interesting pieces of political journalism.
7.) “Charlie Wilson’s War” (2007)
With an all-star cast including Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, this political drama revolves around a Democratic congressman from Texas (Charlie Wilson) and his dealings with the Afghan mujahideen. From a rogue CIA agent, Wilson discovers the suffering of the Afghani people from Soviet occupation and supplies the mujahideen with weapons in order to defeat the Soviets. Unfortunately, Wilson quickly discovers the severe consequences of his actions. This film was nominated for one Oscar as well as many other awards. One of the best parts of this movie is that it was co-written by Aaron Sorkin, whose unique, fast-paced dialogue gives the film an exciting feel that keeps the viewer interested throughout.
6.) “The Ides of March” (2011)
Staring George Clooney and Ryan Gosling, both actors give incredible performances in this film, providing exceptional clarity for a wide array of movie-goers. The film revolves around Stephen Meyers (Gosling), an eager political campaign staffer that works closely with political candidate, Governor Mike Morris (Clooney). When a sex scandal arrises around the governor, Meyers must choose where his loyalty lays and whom he can trust, if anyone at all. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing, this film is a tense political drama with plenty of eye candy throughout.
5.) “The Campaign” (2012)
The only duo better than Ryan Gosling and George Clooney is Will Ferrell and Zach Galifiankis, demonstrated in this hilarious political comedy. Poking fun at the trail of becoming a political candidate, this film showcases the lengths many in politics may go to win. Also touching on common political themes such as political corruption, lobbying and outsourcing, “The Campaign” somehow makes the audience laugh the entire time while tackling these tough issues. This film may not go down as the best political movie in all of film history, but it is no doubt the best political comedy to come around in years, hopefully speaking to younger generations and making politics more accessible for them.
4.) “Tinker Tailor Solider Spy” (2011)
This political drama centers around the various acts of espionage during the Cold War, based on the 1974 spy novel of the same name by author John le Carre. Starring Gary Oldman, this film follows the trail of an ex-spy pulled out of retirement so he can find a suspected Soviet spy in England. Nominated for 3 Oscars as well as many other awards in the film community, the cast gives outstanding performances in this film saturated with paranoia, secrecy and anxiety.
3.) “Milk” (2008)
With an astounding performance by Sean Penn, this film follows the life of Harvey Milk, gay activist and California’s first openly gay elected official. Made in 2008, “Milk” uncovers the trials and tribulations of being a gay activist in the 1970s, narrated through a reading of Milk’s “Only if I Am Assassinated” letter, which also frames the events throughout the movie. Winner of two Oscars, including Best Actor in a Leading Role, “Milk” is legendary for its portrayal of the early days of gay activism in politics.
2.) “Dr. Strangelove” (1964)
Also commonly called “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” this film was directed, produced and co-written by Stanley Kubrick. The movie follows Air Force General Jack D. Ripper as he orders a bombing of the Soviet Union without the president’s consent. With the planes en route, Ripper’s comrades attempt to get codes from Ripper that will stop the planes from performing this unjustified attack upon the Soviets. Ripper refuses to give up the codes, leading the president to call upon Dr. Strangelove, former Nazi and mad scientist. Drawing on common themes from the Cold War era, this film is regarded by most critics as one of the best comedies of all time, as well as one of the best political satires in film history.
1.) “All The President’s Men” (1976)
Directed by Alan J. Pakula, this film centers on Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, famously known for cracking the Watergate scandal wide open, leading to President Nixon’s resignation. “All The President’s Men” follows Woodward and Bernstein as they first begin coverage of a minor break-in at the Democratic Party National Headquarters, and takes off as they trace the scandal all the way to the White House. With a cast that includes Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, this film is regarded as one of the best political dramas in film.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Ellie Patterson at Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org.