The Best Political Films Ever Made Films
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The Best Political Films Ever Made

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. 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.

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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  1. 1
    Up 232
    Down 40

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

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  2. 2
    Up 169
    Down 48

    most listed Richard Nixon, Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman

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  3. 3
    Up 134
    Down 35

    Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

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  4. 4
    Up 103
    Down 34

    Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley

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  5. 5
    Up 87
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    Daniel Day-Lewis, Martin Sheen, Ben Kingsley

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  6. 6
    Up 77
    Down 17

    Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Don Cheadle

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  7. 7
    Up 128
    Down 43

    Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Billy Gilbert

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  8. 8
    Up 136
    Down 29

    ranked low on reranks James Stewart, Claude Rains, Jean Arthur

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  9. 9
    Up 66
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    Judy Garland, William Shatner, Marlene Dietrich

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  10. 10
    Up 99
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks James Franco, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin

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  11. 11
    Up 90
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    Shirley MacLaine, Peter Sellers, Jack Warden

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  12. 12
    Up 122
    Down 55

    Kirsten Dunst, Robert De Niro, Jay Leno

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  13. 13
    Up 59
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    Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand

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  14. 14
    Up 120
    Down 60

    Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon

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  15. 15
    Up 75
    Down 45

    Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell

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  16. 16
    Up 44
    Down 14

    Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, Tom Hanks

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  17. 17
    Up 52
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Julia Roberts, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman

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  18. 18
    Up 66
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    Malcolm McDowell, Steven Berkoff, Warren Clarke

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  19. 19
    Up 60
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    Edward Furlong, Edward Norton, Beverly D'Angelo

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  20. 20
    Up 70
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    John Ireland, Broderick Crawford, Mercedes McCambridge

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  21. 21
    Up 81
    Down 37

    Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

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  22. 22
    Up 37
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Daniel Day-Lewis, Emma Thompson, Tom Wilkinson

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  23. 23
    Up 40
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Max von Sydow

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  24. 24
    Up 86
    Down 39

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sigourney Weaver, Jay Leno

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  25. 25
    Up 87
    Down 39

    ranked low on reranks Katie Holmes, Robert Duvall, Maria Bello

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  26. 26
    Up 35
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Michael Sheen

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  27. 27
    Up 118
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    Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Fry

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  28. 28
    Up 69
    Down 30

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  29. 29
    Up 85
    Down 43

    George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Daniels

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  30. 30
    Up 46
    Down 16

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

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  31. 31
    Up 60
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    Peter Sellers, Jean Seberg, William Hartnell

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  32. 32
    Up 35
    Down 19

    Daniel Craig, Eric Bana, Geoffrey Rush

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  33. 33
    Up 62
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    Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Anjelica Huston

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  34. 34
    Up 86
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    Salma Hayek, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas

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  35. 35
    Up 34
    Down 9

    Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness

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  36. 36
    Up 24
    Down 19

    Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy

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  37. 37
    Up 28
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    Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Langley Kirkwood

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  38. 38
    Up 18
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    Daniel Brühl, Michael Gwisdek, Christine Schorn

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  39. 39
    Up 27
    Down 20

    added by stubb Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov, Aleksandr Antonov

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  40. 40
    Up 68
    Down 43

    ranked low on reranks Anthony Hopkins, James Woods, Bai Ling

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  41. 41
    Up 56
    Down 37

    ranked low on reranks William Hurt, Lee Marvin, Brian Dennehy

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  42. 42
    Up 30
    Down 27

    Meryl Streep, Iain Glen, Jim Broadbent

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  43. 43
    Up 45
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    Susan Sarandon, Helen Hunt, Jack Black

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  44. 44
    Up 43
    Down 27

    Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs

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  45. 45
    Up 46
    Down 32

    Sean Penn, Timothy Hutton, Michael Ironside

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  46. 46
    Up 17
    Down 9

    added by wiabux George Clooney, Matt Damon, Amanda Peet

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  47. 47
    Up 30
    Down 17

    Gene Kelly, Spencer Tracy, Harry Morgan

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  48. 48
    Up 53
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    John Travolta, Bill Maher, Emma Thompson

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  49. 49
    Up 75
    Down 58

    Denzel Washington, Al Sharpton, Angela Bassett

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  50. 50
    Up 44
    Down 27

    Henry Fonda, Ward Bond, Donald Meek

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  51. 138 +

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