The Best Political Films Ever Made Films

The Best Political Films Ever Made

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Political movies can approach the notion of politics and government from numerous perspectives, and with many wildly divergent purposes. Some of the earliest and best-remembered films were essentially propaganda tools being used by a political party or ideological group, hoping that the new media of cinema could be useful in helping to persuade or mollify the masses. (In some cases, as with the Nazi documentary "Triumph of the Will" or Sergei Eisenstein's massively influential "Battleship Potemkin," they were undeniable successful, at least initially.)

Political films can also serve the opposite purpose, encouraging people to distrust or even fear their government, or attacking an individual politician or political movement specifically. Some of the best political movies, the paranoia thrillers of the 1970s, for example, reflected America's distrust in its own leaders following the Watergate and other corruption scandals. More recently, George Clooney's "Good Night, and Good Luck" told a true story about journalist Edward R. Murrow facing off against Joseph McCarthy, but as a way of discussing political issues that remained relevant even upon its release in 2005. Good political movies are able to illuminate complicated situations for their viewers.

Many Americans' understanding of complex political situations, both in their homeland and in other countries, as well, comes from watching popular films. For example, the satirical take on the politics of war in "Wag the Dog," the insights into Greek politics provided by Costa-Gavras "Z" or the look at Bolivian elections in the documentary "Our Brand is Crisis."

This list includes notable and significant political movies from throughout cinema history from all different styles and genres. It is VoteRanked and Open, so be sure to vote up your favorites, vote down the movies you don't think belong on the list and add any other suggestions you have at the bottom of the page.

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  • 22 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 420
    - 73

    the people's #1
    James Earl Jones, Peter Sellers, George C. Scott

    ;
  2. 2
    + 295
    - 83


    Richard Nixon, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford

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  3. 3
    + 217
    - 70

    most listed
    Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

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  4. 4
    + 239
    - 76


    Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley

    ;
  5. 5
    + 171
    - 74


    Daniel Day-Lewis, Ben Kingsley, Martin Sheen

    ;
  6. 6
    + 211
    - 62


    James Stewart, Claude Rains, Jean Arthur

    ;
  7. 7
    + 162
    - 52


    Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Don Cheadle

    ;
  8. 8
    + 195
    - 84


    Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Billy Gilbert

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  9. 9
    + 148
    - 56


    Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly DAngelo

    ;
  10. 10
    + 153
    - 56


    Malcolm McDowell, Warren Clarke, Steven Berkoff

    ;
  11. 11
    + 113
    - 50


    Judy Garland, William Shatner, Marlene Dietrich

    ;
  12. 12
    + 126
    - 55


    Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand

    ;
  13. 13
    + 201
    - 102


    Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon

    ;
  14. 14
    + 179
    - 92


    Kirsten Dunst, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman

    ;
  15. 15
    + 94
    - 27


    Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness

    ;
  16. 16
    + 158
    - 81


    Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

    ;
  17. 17
    + 197
    - 101


    Natalie Portman, John Hurt, Hugo Weaving

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  18. 18
    + 157
    - 128


    James Franco, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin

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  19. 19
    + 126
    - 44


    Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd

    ;
  20. 20
    + 128
    - 82


    Shirley MacLaine, Peter Sellers, Jack Warden

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  21. 21
    + 108
    - 64


    Broderick Crawford, John Ireland, John Derek

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  22. 22
    + 78
    - 51


    Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Max von Sydow

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  23. 23
    + 84
    - 54


    Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Michael Sheen

    ;
  24. 24
    + 83
    - 52


    Daniel Day-Lewis, Emma Thompson, Tom Wilkinson

    ;
  25. 25
    + 101
    - 52


    Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field

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  26. 26
    + 86
    - 49


    Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, Tom Hanks

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  27. 27
    + 106
    - 84

    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell

    ;
  28. 28
    + 117
    - 67


    Katie Holmes, Robert Duvall, Maria Bello

    ;
  29. 29
    + 125
    - 70


    George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Daniels

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  30. 30
    + 96
    - 51


    Kirk Douglas, Ava Gardner, Burt Lancaster

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  31. 31
    + 111
    - 76


    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sigourney Weaver, Jay Leno

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  32. 32
    + 77
    - 46


    Daniel Craig, Eric Bana, Geoffrey Rush

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  33. 33
    + 69
    - 68

    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    Julia Roberts, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman

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  34. 34
    + 118
    - 77


    Salma Hayek, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas

    ;
  35. 35
    + 84
    - 54


    Peter Sellers, Jean Seberg, William Hartnell

    ;
  36. 36
    + 69
    - 38


    Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, Roman Polanski

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  37. 37
    + 52
    - 23

    added by sebbzor
    Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Gary Oldman

    ;
  38. 38
    + 57
    - 33

    added by wiabux
    George Clooney, Matt Damon, Amanda Peet

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  39. 39
    + 120
    - 82


    Denzel Washington, Al Sharpton, Nelson Mandela

    ;
  40. 40
    + 54
    - 55

    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Langley Kirkwood

    ;
  41. 41
    + 77
    - 64


    Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Logan Lerman

    ;
  42. 42
    + 63
    - 37


    Jean-Louis Trintignant, Yves Montand, Jacques Perrin

    ;
  43. 43
    + 57
    - 36


    Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly, Harry Morgan

    ;
  44. 44
    + 52
    - 47

    added by stubb
    Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov, Aleksandr Antonov

    ;
  45. 45
    + 46
    - 24

    added by wiabux
    Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson, James McAvoy

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  46. 46
    + 89
    - 75


    Matt Stone, Trey Parker, Maurice LaMarche

    ;
  47. 47
    + 51
    - 46


    Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy

    ;
  48. 48
    + 85
    - 74


    Anthony Hopkins, James Woods, Ed Harris

    ;
  49. 49
    + 48
    - 24

    added by wiabux
    Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe, James Earl Jones

    ;
  50. 50
    + 35
    - 19

    added by stubb
    Jean Martin, Saadi Yacef, Gene Wesson

    ;
211 +

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