My Five Favorite Political Movies

Fun fact: There used to be a site called where yours truly would go and write about politics, it was a lot of fun, and we even got on The Daily Show once, but it was just too depressing to get up and write about politics every day. Seriously, it’s exhausting, and I could only imagine how much of my hair I would be tearing out in this current political climate.

But today the lines are being crossed, and I’m here to talk about my favorite political movies. It’s not because of a particular slant any of them had (also, I’m leaving out documentaries for that reason) but because they were interesting and well made and taught us things.

These are my picks below. I’m sure I’ve missed your own favorite, so let me know what those are in the comments.


Never before have I been so fascinated by a movie with so much talking, and so little action. The film is a presumably exhausting three and a half hours long for the Director’s Cut (Oliver Stone has much to say) and I thought it would be a chore to get through.

But the exact opposite was the case, as I was on the edge of my seat for practically the entire film. It’s an examination into the Kennedy assassination, and you’d be hard pressed to sit through the entire thing and NOT believe there was a conspiracy involved. I knew little about such things beforehand, and through it I learned of theories like the “Magic Bullet” which was later adapted into a Seinfeld reference.

The film is just fascinating from start to finish, and though I’m sure it has its issues, you really can learn a lot from it. I’m sure I’ll get some flack from certain historians and what not for my glowing endorsement here, but the film makes a compelling case for the conspiracy that I think is hard to refute.


Yes, Watchmen is a political film, though that’s mainly because it copies the political graphic novel practically frame by frame. Yes, it’s set against a backdrop of mortal superheroes and immortal gods, but there are some very real issues here as the entire plot revolves around the “Doomsday Clock,” which announces how close we are to nuclear annihilation as a result of the Cold War.

There are many themes running through Watchmen, with the plight of the masks running parallel to what alleged communist sympathizers had to endure during the McCarthy era. There’s commentary on Vietnam, and how badly we messed that up and our attitude toward the natives. The end, however, might hold the greatest commentary.


Ozymandias realizes the only way to avert nuclear annihilation is to focus on a common enemy, in the book it’s a giant psychic squid that destroys New York City, in the movie the same feat is blamed on Dr. Manhattan, but the message is the same. A common enemy can unite rivals, and sometimes sacrifices are necessary for the greater good.


Yes, another Oliver Stone film has made the list, as the man does love his politics. I don’t discuss it much on the site here, but I am fairly liberal leaning, so I thought when I sat down for W that I would be getting a rather humorous skewering of the president who f*cked up everything, and I was looking forward to that.

But that’s not what W was about, and what most surprised me about the film was the fact that it actually made me sympathize with a man I had intensely disliked for a while. Here George W. is painted as an idiot, yes, but a well-meaning one. He’s not malicious, he’s just trying to fill big shoes of his father and older brother, and he’s given terrible advice by everyone around him that causes him to make crucial mistakes. He’s trying to do the right thing, but things just never go his way.

The tagline of the film is “A Life Misunderestimate” a play on a famous Bush-ism, but really it’s accurate to what the film portrays. For someone usually as liberal as Stone, it was interesting to see him paint Bush in such a positive light, and I actually appreciated the final product as it was counter to what I had been expecting.

Dr Strangelove : Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb

Yes, I’ve missed my fair share of older political films that may have adorned this list, but I did manage to catch Dr. Strangelove: Or How I…err, nevermind, I’m not going to write out that whole damn title again.

It’s a black comedy made in the ’60s when the practically 50 year Cold War with Russia was nearing its halfway point. The world was on edge as we now lived in a nuclear era where countries literally had the power to destroy the entire world with a few rogue button presses, and Dr. Strangelove, lead by the brilliant Peter Sellers in three different roles, shows the absurdity of war and the idiocy of those running the show.

The film featuers many iconic moments, most notably a man literally riding an A-bomb to his ultimate demise like a cowboy, and the classic line “Gentleman! You can’t fight in here, this is the War Room!”

Independence Day

Hah, what? Not what you were expecting? Yeah well I had to try and mix things up a little bit here. No, Independence Day is not thought of typically as a political film. You can’t really count any film that has a the president as a central character as a political film, otherwise Deep Impact and Love Actually would be on here.

But it’s in recent days that the true political message of Independence Day shines through. Unity, which is a concept that is increasingly out of reach for our political system. Much like Watchmen, the world unites to fight a common threat, and it’s really the LACK of politics that makes the biggest statement.

It’s hard to think of America taking on anything united any more. Even if aliens invaded, I could see Republicans cutting money to NASA in favor of tax cuts, or Democrats bitching about war spending when the planet is on the brink of collapse.

Bonus: First Kid

This movie is awesome. It has Sinbad. That is all.

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  1. You should check out Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. A classic.

    Also look into Dave. It has Signory Weaver in it and is much more political than half your list.

    But for a really great political film check out The Good Shepherd. It’s all about the CIA, it’s start and it’s influence through the years.

  2. @ Cube

    Dave’s definitely fun, I also liked The American President, even more so since it’s on Netflix.

    I’d also like to thank Paul for putting “Back and to the left” in my head with that picture @ the top. That’s gonna be getting repeated all day.

  3. Completely forgot about Bob Roberts. Great political flick with dark humor.

    Another great campaign flick is The Canadiate. Unlike Bob Roberts it completely serious and shows how the system changes people.

    Another black comedy dealing with politics is Wag the Dog. It’s scary how much it foreshadowed the events leading up to the wars we are still in.

    But for a truly heartbreaking, factual story that will make you angry you have to go with the Tillman Story. If you do not know wht this is about then do yourself a favor and watch it.

    Starship Troopers is a very political flick. Nuff’ said.

  4. Instead of A Time To Kill (both it and A Few Good Men are actually court movies not technically political movies) I would go with the original and far better To Kill a Mockingbird. Great flick and a great book.

  5. Solid enough list though I’d have went for Starship Troopers in there instead of Independence Day, simply for the fact that the underlying current of fascism in it is unmistakeable.

    As an Irishman my three favourite political movies are In The Name Of The Father, the made for TV movie Bloody Sunday and Hunger.

    Day Lewis is as always on top form in In The Name Of The Father, as is the late Pete Postelwaite.

    Hunger hasn’t got as recognisable a cast, but is still solidly written.

    Magneto is absolutely brilliant in Hunger. I wanted to switch the film off so many times, because it is gruelling to watch, but his performance as Bobby Sands was terrific.

  6. I think you have to have to include The Missiles of October (1974) in this mix. It was one of the best movies I have ever seen about how things work in the Oval Office.

    And if you like political movies, you should check out this ranking of the best US President Movies

  7. It’s hard to watch JFK and not think there was a conspiracy much in the same way it’s hard to watch Loose Change and not think there was a conspiracy. When you ignore facts and include lies it’s amazing how persuasive an argument can be.

  8. Are you freaking kidding me? Have you ever heard of the movie “All the Presidents Men”????

    It’s the REAL life true story on how two newspaper reporters Woodward and Bernstein took down PRESIDENT Nixon. It’s perhaps the single most important modern day event in American politics. Not only that it’s an AMAZING movie. Sterring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.


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