Film 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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Dr. Strangelove or: How I Lear... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
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Actors: James Earl Jones, Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Keenan Wynn Slim Pickens, + more

Initial Release: 1964

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

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#62 on The Best War Movies Ever

#224 on The Most Overrated Movies of All Time

#118 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

#297 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

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All the President's Men is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
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Actors: Richard Nixon, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Gerald Ford Meredith Baxter, + more

Initial Release: 1976

Directed by: Alan J. Pakula

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#29 on The Best Movies Based on Non-Fiction Books

#194 on The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

#117 on The Best Crime Movies

#67 on The Best Movies Based on True Stories

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The Manchurian Candidate is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
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Actors: Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh, Laurence Harvey Henry Silva, + more

Initial Release: 1962

Directed by: John Frankenheimer

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#31 on The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

#207 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

#398 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

#76 on The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made

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Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
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Schindler's List


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Actors: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Embeth Davidtz Norbert Weisser, + more

Initial Release: 1993

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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#8 on The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies

#7 on The Best Movies Based on Non-Fiction Books

#10 on The Best War Movies Ever

#198 on The Most Overrated Movies of All Time

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Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
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Actors: Daniel Day-Lewis, Ben Kingsley, Martin Sheen, Candice Bergen John Gielgud, + more

Initial Release: 1982

Directed by: Richard Attenborough

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#33 on The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies

#133 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

#83 on The Best Movies Based on True Stories

#22 on The Best Inspirational Movies

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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
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Actors: James Stewart, Claude Rains, Jean Arthur, Thomas Mitchell Edward Arnold, + more

Initial Release: 1939

Directed by: Frank Capra

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#466 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

#55 on The Best Inspirational Movies

#384 on The Best Movies of All Time

#2 on Every James Stewart Movie, Ranked Best to Worst

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Hotel Rwanda is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
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Actors: Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Don Cheadle, Jean Reno Sophie Okonedo, + more

Initial Release: 2004

Directed by: Terry George

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#59 on The Best War Movies Ever

#423 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#278 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

#88 on The Best Movies Based on True Stories

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JFK is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
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JFK


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Actors: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones Joe Pesci, + more

Initial Release: 1991

Directed by: Oliver Stone

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#8 on The Best Movies "Loosely" Based on True Stories

#267 on The Most Overrated Movies of All Time

#327 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#97 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

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