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. 41
    Up 29
    Down 24

    added by stubb Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov, Aleksandr Antonov

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  2. 131
    Up 7
    Down 9

    added by stubb Antonin Artaud, Albert Dieudonné, Gina Manès

    open
  3. 81
    Up 17
    Down 12

    Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx

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  4. 9
    Up 141
    Down 38

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

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  5. 51
    Up 45
    Down 31

    Henry Fonda, Ward Bond, Donald Meek

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  6. 7
    Up 137
    Down 50

    Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Billy Gilbert

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  7. 77
    Up 16
    Down 11

    Henry Fonda, Anthony Quinn, Harry Morgan

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  8. 19
    Up 75
    Down 40

    John Ireland, Broderick Crawford, Mercedes McCambridge

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  9. 85
    Up 10
    Down 13

    Andy Griffith, Rip Torn, Walter Matthau

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  10. 32
    Up 63
    Down 35

    Peter Sellers, Jean Seberg, William Hartnell

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  11. 47
    Up 34
    Down 20

    Gene Kelly, Spencer Tracy, Harry Morgan

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  12. 10
    Up 69
    Down 23

    Judy Garland, William Shatner, Marlene Dietrich

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  13. 142
    Up 3
    Down 5

    James Cagney, Red Buttons, Pamela Tiffin

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  14. 35
    Up 38
    Down 12

    Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness

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  15. 3
    Up 146
    Down 43

    Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

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  16. 2
    Up 258
    Down 49

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

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  17. 68
    Up 13
    Down 13

    added by stubb Henry Fonda, Larry Hagman, Dom DeLuise

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  18. 29
    Up 72
    Down 34

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  19. 119
    Up 1
    Down 3

    Henry Fonda, Cliff Robertson, Shelley Berman

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  20. 107
    Up 3
    Down 3

    Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, Julie Christie

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  21. 67
    Up 14
    Down 10

    added by stubb Jean Martin, Saadi Yacef, Gene Wesson

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  22. 95
    Up 7
    Down 12

    added by stubb

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  23. 70
    Up 21
    Down 23

    Peter Boyle, Robert Forster, Peter Bonerz

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  24. 58
    Up 37
    Down 23

    Jean-Louis Trintignant, Yves Montand, Jacques Perrin

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  25. 16
    Up 76
    Down 26

    Malcolm McDowell, Steven Berkoff, Warren Clarke

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  26. 80
    Up 25
    Down 30

    Sylvester Stallone, Woody Allen, Danny DeVito

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  27. 118
    Up 2
    Down 4

    Robert Redford, Natalie Wood, Peter Boyle

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  28. 121
    Up 2
    Down 1

    new! & added by testvikas2 Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall

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  29. 50
    Up 36
    Down 20

    Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, Roman Polanski

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  30. 101
    Up 15
    Down 26

    Idi Amin

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  31. 31
    Up 71
    Down 24

    Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Anjelica Huston

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  32. 22
    Up 44
    Down 23

    Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Max von Sydow

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  33. 1
    Up 186
    Down 58

    most listed Richard Nixon, Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman

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  34. 89
    Up 6
    Down 11

    added by stubb Norman Yarborough

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  35. 11
    Up 94
    Down 49

    Shirley MacLaine, Peter Sellers, Jack Warden

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  36. 75
    Up 23
    Down 25
    No image

    Bill Murray, Craig T. Nelson, Peter Boyle

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  37. 56
    Up 42
    Down 26

    Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Gene Hackman

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  38. 5
    Up 99
    Down 41

    Daniel Day-Lewis, Martin Sheen, Ben Kingsley

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  39. 117
    Up 11
    Down 14

    Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek, Melanie Mayron

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  40. 104
    Up 14
    Down 7

    ranked low on reranks & added by stubb Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hunt

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  41. 40
    Up 60
    Down 40

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

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  42. 126
    Up 1
    Down 1

    new! & added by testvikas2 Kevin Costner, Rebecca De Mornay, Lukas Haas

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  43. 91
    Up 24
    Down 7

    ranked low on reranks & added by stubb John Malkovich, Craig T. Nelson, Sam Waterston

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  44. 73
    Up 18
    Down 12

    Robert De Niro, Ian Holm, Jim Broadbent

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  45. 46
    Up 47
    Down 37

    Sean Penn, Timothy Hutton, Michael Ironside

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  46. 120
    Up 8
    Down 14

    James Woods, Jim Belushi, Cynthia Gibb

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  47. 59
    Up 21
    Down 17

    Denzel Washington, Kevin Kline, Julian Glover

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  48. 71
    Up 25
    Down 15

    ranked low on reranks Christian Bale, Ben Stiller, John Malkovich

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  49. 141
    Up 9
    Down 15

    added by stubb Winona Ryder, Shannen Doherty, Christian Slater

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  50. 13
    Up 65
    Down 28

    Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand

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145 +

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