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 237
    Down 42

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

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  2. 2
    Up 173
    Down 49

    most listed Richard Nixon, Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman

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  3. 3
    Up 137
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    Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

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  4. 4
    Up 107
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    Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley

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  5. 5
    Up 88
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    Daniel Day-Lewis, Martin Sheen, Ben Kingsley

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  6. 6
    Up 80
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    Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Don Cheadle

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  7. 7
    Up 129
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    Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Billy Gilbert

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  8. 8
    Up 136
    Down 32

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

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  9. 9
    Up 101
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks James Franco, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin

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  10. 10
    Up 67
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    Judy Garland, William Shatner, Marlene Dietrich

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  11. 11
    Up 91
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    Shirley MacLaine, Peter Sellers, Jack Warden

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  12. 12
    Up 125
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    Kirsten Dunst, Robert De Niro, Jay Leno

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  13. 13
    Up 62
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    Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand

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  14. 14
    Up 123
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    Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon

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  15. 15
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    Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell

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  16. 16
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    Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, Tom Hanks

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  17. 17
    Up 69
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    Malcolm McDowell, Steven Berkoff, Warren Clarke

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  18. 18
    Up 73
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    John Ireland, Broderick Crawford, Mercedes McCambridge

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  19. 19
    Up 52
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Julia Roberts, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman

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  20. 20
    Up 42
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    Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Max von Sydow

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  21. 21
    Up 61
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    Edward Furlong, Edward Norton, Beverly D'Angelo

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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
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    Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

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  24. 24
    Up 87
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    Katie Holmes, Robert Duvall, Maria Bello

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  25. 25
    Up 38
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Michael Sheen

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  26. 26
    Up 86
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    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sigourney Weaver, Jay Leno

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  27. 27
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    Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Fry

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  28. 28
    Up 70
    Down 31

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  29. 29
    Up 86
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    George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Daniels

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  30. 30
    Up 48
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    Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sally Field, Daniel Day-Lewis

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  31. 31
    Up 61
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    Peter Sellers, Jean Seberg, William Hartnell

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  32. 32
    Up 65
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    Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Anjelica Huston

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  33. 33
    Up 36
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    Daniel Craig, Eric Bana, Geoffrey Rush

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  34. 34
    Up 87
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    Salma Hayek, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas

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  35. 35
    Up 35
    Down 10

    Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness

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  36. 36
    Up 26
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    Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy

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  37. 37
    Up 30
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    Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Langley Kirkwood

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  38. 38
    Up 28
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    added by stubb Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov, Aleksandr Antonov

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  39. 39
    Up 18
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    Daniel Brühl, Michael Gwisdek, Christine Schorn

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  40. 40
    Up 69
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    ranked low on reranks Anthony Hopkins, James Woods, Bai Ling

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  41. 41
    Up 57
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    William Hurt, Lee Marvin, Brian Dennehy

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  42. 42
    Up 30
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks 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 29

    Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs

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  45. 45
    Up 47
    Down 34

    Sean Penn, Timothy Hutton, Michael Ironside

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  46. 46
    Up 32
    Down 18

    Gene Kelly, Spencer Tracy, Harry Morgan

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  47. 47
    Up 20
    Down 12

    added by wiabux George Clooney, Matt Damon, Amanda Peet

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  48. 48
    Up 77
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    Denzel Washington, Al Sharpton, Angela Bassett

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  49. 49
    Up 45
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    Henry Fonda, Ward Bond, Donald Meek

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  50. 50
    Up 35
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    Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, Roman Polanski

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