As frustrating as it can be, it can be amusing to see politicians in action, whether it be infamous blunders or exposing their ignorance. Sometimes it is incredible to watch the skill of any speaker sway a crowd, or even a nation, as we saw in 2008. Politics can be fun if you have the right attitude.
It's of little surprise that I enjoy political movies. At their best they can entertain as well as inform one about the process. They can show us the great possibilities of this nation and expose the horrors of what people will do for an ounce of power and fame. Listed below are some of my favorite political movies:
- Bob Roberts: A mockumentary directed and starring Tim Robbins, it shows a ficticious campaign in Pennsylvania, where the title character is a conservative folk singer turned Senatorial candidate running against a long time Democratic incumbent. The story is told through the lens of a British documentary filmmaker following the Roberts campaign and viewing the corruption and naked ambition of a man posing as a candidate of extraordinary values. The soundtrack is hilarious as the comedy is dark and it's something I highly recommend. It's hard to think of this as satire anymore, sadly.
- 2. Mr Smith Goes to Washington: Sure this film is old, but Jimmy Stewart plays the title role masterfully as the idealist Congressman ready to enact positive change, but finds himself in a rat's nest of corruption that he never realized existed. The climatic speech is worth watching alone.
- 3. All the King's Men: Based on the life of Huey Long, this film chronicles an good natured idealist politician turned into a corrupt megalomaniac. With great action and marvelous direction, this Oscar winner doesn't disappoint, unlike the remake:
- 4. Power: A cynical behind the scenes look at how campaigns are run. Richard Gere is a ruthless, corrupt campaign consultant who'll go to great and despicable lengths to get his clients elected. While the film's strength largely resides in its first hour, it does give you enough suspense to keep you hooked to see what happens. Some great performances by the aforementioned Gere, Denzel Washington, and Gene Hackman to name a few. (Can't find a trailer on Youtube sadly: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4766170/power_movie_trailer/)
5. Nixon: When Oliver Stone isn't pulling facts out of his ass, this film is an amazing, and incredibly sympathetic portrait of one of our most corrupt Presidents. Anthony Hopkins plays the role with expected enthusiasm and grace.
- 6. All the President's Men: Released two years after Nixon resigned, this is a great portrayal of Woodward and Bernstein's Washington Post investigation into the Watergate scandal. Chronicling the conversations with a then anonymous character called Deep Throat, this film shows the power of media as being a watchdog group, something today's journalists could stand to learn from.
- 7. The War Room: This documentary goes behind the scenes of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, and follows the work of George Stephopolous and the ragin cajun James Carville as they work to get their candidate defeat the incumbent, George HW Bush.
- 8. A Perfect Candidate: Like the aforementioned The War Room, this is another documentary about Oliver North's run for Senator. Yes that Oliver North. Fascinating in its look at how candidates are run as a product, rather than a person.
- 9. Election: A funny parody of a high school election about an ambitious high school student and her morally bankrupt teacher/advisor, which could be any political setting when you think about it.
- 10. Reds: Probably the most epic film on this list, this movie tells the story of John Reed, the American journalist and communist that sought the presidency and chronicled the Bolshevik Revolution. It humanizes historical characters that textbooks often overlook, and the powerful acting and direction is the direct result of the amazing talent of Warren Beatty.
What are yours?
"But it is Stewart’s Jefferson Smith, with a drawl as wide as the Missouri and, despite everything he’s seen, a bedrock trust in the essential decency of his fellow Americans — and in the turbulent, boisterous American political system itself — that lends Mr. Smith its enduring, inimitable charm." - Ben Cosgrove