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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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The Best Political Films Ever Made Films
  • 22 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 396
    - 72

    the people's #1
    James Earl Jones, Peter Sellers, George C. Scott Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial

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  2. 2
    + 208
    - 68

    most listed
    Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

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  3. 3
    + 276
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    Richard Nixon, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford

    ; watch now
  4. 4
    + 225
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    Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley

    ; watch now
  5. 5
    + 163
    - 71


    Daniel Day-Lewis, Ben Kingsley, Martin Sheen Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial

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  6. 6
    + 150
    - 50


    Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Don Cheadle

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  7. 7
    + 199
    - 59


    James Stewart, Claude Rains, Jean Arthur

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  8. 8
    + 188
    - 81


    Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Billy Gilbert

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  9. 9
    + 105
    - 48


    Judy Garland, William Shatner, Marlene Dietrich

    ; watch now
  10. 10
    + 144
    - 122

    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    James Franco, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin

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  11. 11
    + 115
    - 53


    Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand

    ; watch now
  12. 12
    + 135
    - 53


    Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly DAngelo

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  13. 13
    + 188
    - 99


    Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon

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  14. 14
    + 145
    - 53

    ranked low on reranks
    Malcolm McDowell, Warren Clarke, Steven Berkoff

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  15. 15
    + 143
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    Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

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  16. 16
    + 167
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    Kirsten Dunst, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman

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  17. 17
    + 121
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    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    Shirley MacLaine, Peter Sellers, Jack Warden

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  18. 18
    + 86
    - 24


    Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial

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  19. 19
    + 185
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    Natalie Portman, John Hurt, Hugo Weaving

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  20. 20
    + 73
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    Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Max von Sydow

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  21. 21
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    Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Michael Sheen

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  22. 22
    + 104
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    Broderick Crawford, John Ireland, John Derek

    ; watch now
  23. 23
    + 77
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    Daniel Day-Lewis, Emma Thompson, Tom Wilkinson

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  24. 24
    + 105
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    Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell

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  25. 25
    + 116
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    ranked low on reranks
    Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd

    ; watch now
  26. 26
    + 65
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    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    Julia Roberts, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman

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  27. 27
    + 79
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    Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, Tom Hanks

    ; watch now
  28. 28
    + 115
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    Katie Holmes, Robert Duvall, Maria Bello

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  29. 29
    + 96
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    Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field

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  30. 30
    + 108
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    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sigourney Weaver, Jay Leno

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  31. 31
    + 119
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    George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Daniels

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  32. 32
    + 74
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    Daniel Craig, Eric Bana, Geoffrey Rush

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  33. 33
    + 89
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    Kirk Douglas, Ava Gardner, Burt Lancaster

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  34. 34
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    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Langley Kirkwood

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  35. 35
    + 114
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    Salma Hayek, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas

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  36. 36
    + 81
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    Peter Sellers, Jean Seberg, William Hartnell

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  37. 37
    + 52
    - 43

    added by stubb
    Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov, Aleksandr Antonov Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial

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  38. 38
    + 35
    - 42

    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    Daniel Brühl, Chulpan Khamatova, Florian Lukas

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  39. 39
    + 72
    - 60


    Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Logan Lerman Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial

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  40. 40
    + 53
    - 30

    added by wiabux
    George Clooney, Matt Damon, Amanda Peet

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  41. 41
    + 64
    - 35

    ranked low on reranks
    Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, Roman Polanski

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  42. 42
    + 49
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    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy

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  43. 43
    + 51
    - 56

    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Iain Glen

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  44. 44
    + 45
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    added by sebbzor
    Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Gary Oldman

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  45. 45
    + 113
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    Denzel Washington, Al Sharpton, Nelson Mandela

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  46. 46
    + 85
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    Matt Stone, Trey Parker, Maurice LaMarche

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  47. 47
    + 82
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    Anthony Hopkins, James Woods, Ed Harris

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  48. 48
    + 53
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    Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly, Harry Morgan Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial

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  49. 49
    + 58
    - 35


    Jean-Louis Trintignant, Yves Montand, Jacques Perrin

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  50. 50
    + 34
    - 17

    added by stubb
    Jean Martin, Saadi Yacef, Gene Wesson

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211 +

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