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. 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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  • 20 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 348
    - 62

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

    ) open
  2. 2
    + 234
    - 72


    Richard Nixon, Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman

    ) open
  3. 3
    + 183
    - 59

    most listed
    Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

    ) open
  4. 4
    + 181
    - 60


    Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley

    ) open
  5. 5
    + 135
    - 58


    Daniel Day-Lewis, Martin Sheen, Ben Kingsley

    ) open
  6. 6
    + 128
    - 39


    Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Don Cheadle

    ) open
  7. 7
    + 168
    - 69


    Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Billy Gilbert

    ) open
  8. 8
    + 126
    - 106

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    James Franco, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin

    ) open
  9. 9
    + 89
    - 37


    Judy Garland, William Shatner, Marlene Dietrich

    ) open
  10. 10
    + 173
    - 52

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

    ) open
  11. 11
    + 93
    - 41


    Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand

    ) open
  12. 12
    + 163
    - 86


    Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon

    ) open
  13. 13
    + 150
    - 78


    Kirsten Dunst, Robert De Niro, Jay Leno

    ) open
  14. 14
    + 114
    - 39


    Malcolm McDowell, Steven Berkoff, Warren Clarke

    ) open
  15. 15
    + 109
    - 67


    Shirley MacLaine, Peter Sellers, Jack Warden

    ) open
  16. 16
    + 101
    - 44


    Edward Furlong, Edward Norton, Beverly D'Angelo

    ) open
  17. 17
    + 65
    - 38


    Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Michael Sheen

    ) open
  18. 18
    + 123
    - 62


    Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

    ) open
  19. 19
    + 94
    - 53


    John Ireland, Broderick Crawford, Mercedes McCambridge

    ) open
  20. 20
    + 96
    - 68


    Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell

    ) open
  21. 21
    + 61
    - 54


    Julia Roberts, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman

    ) open
  22. 22
    + 59
    - 38


    Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Max von Sydow

    ) open
  23. 23
    + 58
    - 40


    Daniel Day-Lewis, Emma Thompson, Tom Wilkinson

    ) open
  24. 24
    + 70
    - 35


    Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, Tom Hanks

    ) open
  25. 25
    + 157
    - 83

    ranked low on reranks
    Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Fry

    ) open
  26. 26
    + 103
    - 57


    Katie Holmes, Robert Duvall, Maria Bello

    ) open
  27. 27
    + 101
    - 61


    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sigourney Weaver, Jay Leno

    ) open
  28. 28
    + 66
    - 19


    Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness

    ) open
  29. 29
    + 107
    - 62


    George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Daniels

    ) open
  30. 30
    + 83
    - 44
    ) open
  31. 31
    + 95
    - 34


    Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Anjelica Huston

    ) open
  32. 32
    + 77
    - 40


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

    ) open
  33. 33
    + 104
    - 66


    Salma Hayek, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas

    ) open
  34. 34
    + 58
    - 34


    Daniel Craig, Eric Bana, Geoffrey Rush

    ) open
  35. 35
    + 47
    - 34

    added by stubb
    Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov, Aleksandr Antonov

    ) open
  36. 36
    + 74
    - 43


    Peter Sellers, Jean Seberg, William Hartnell

    ) open
  37. 37
    + 30
    - 34

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Daniel Brühl, Michael Gwisdek, Christine Schorn

    ) open
  38. 38
    + 41
    - 43


    Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Langley Kirkwood

    ) open
  39. 39
    + 79
    - 58

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

    ) open
  40. 40
    + 44
    - 46

    often listed
    Meryl Streep, Iain Glen, Jim Broadbent

    ) open
  41. 41
    + 39
    - 23

    added by wiabux
    George Clooney, Matt Damon, Amanda Peet

    ) open
  42. 42
    + 37
    - 36


    Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy

    ) open
  43. 43
    + 100
    - 71


    Denzel Washington, Al Sharpton, Angela Bassett

    ) open
  44. 44
    + 58
    - 46


    Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs

    ) open
  45. 45
    + 46
    - 29


    Gene Kelly, Spencer Tracy, Harry Morgan

    ) open
  46. 46
    + 62
    - 51


    William Hurt, Lee Marvin, Brian Dennehy

    ) open
  47. 47
    + 49
    - 28


    Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, Roman Polanski

    ) open
  48. 48
    + 32
    - 18

    added by wiabux
    Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson, Forest Whitaker

    ) open
  49. 49
    + 16
    - 27

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham, Stuart Graham

    ) open
  50. 50
    + 33
    - 17

    added by sebbzor
    Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch

    ) open
145 +

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