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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  • 21 ReRanks
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  1. 14
    + 147
    - 78

    Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon

    ) open
  2. 6
    + 108
    - 31

    Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Don Cheadle

    ) open
  3. 128
    + 4
    - 7

    added by lostshadow Aaron Russo, Irwin Schiff, Katherine Albrecht This is a documentary regarding the Internal Revenue Service, which later branches out to cover the Federal Reserve System and "New World Order" conspiracy.

    ) open
  4. 119
    + 11
    - 13

    added by stubb Antonin Artaud, Albert Dieudonné, Gina Manès

    ) open
  5. 20
    + 105
    - 56

    Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

    ) open
  6. 62
    + 50
    - 40

    Reese Witherspoon, Matthew Broderick, Chris Klein

    ) open
  7. 129
    + 5
    - 9

    added by testvikas2 Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall

    ) open
  8. 126
    + 13
    - 17

    added by stubb Peter Coyote, Jeffrey Skilling, Gray Davis

    ) open
  9. 12
    + 99
    - 60

    Shirley MacLaine, Peter Sellers, Jack Warden

    ) open
  10. 63
    + 21
    - 13

    added by stubb Jean Martin, Saadi Yacef, Gene Wesson

    ) open
  11. 106
    + 23
    - 18

    added by wiabux Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glenn Close

    ) open
  12. 73
    + 24
    - 18

    Robert De Niro, Ian Holm, Jim Broadbent

    ) open
  13. 83
    + 23
    - 33

    Bill Murray, Craig T. Nelson, Peter Boyle

    ) open
  14. 96
    + 6
    - 18

    often listed & added by stubb Norman Yarborough

    ) open
  15. 51
    + 61
    - 56

    Michael Douglas, Michael J. Fox, Martin Sheen

    ) open
  16. 133
    + 7
    - 13

    added by HereshSniper Matt Damon, Benicio del Toro, Rodrigo Santoro

    ) open
  17. 98
    + 16
    - 29

    often listed Oscar Isaac, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Benicio del Toro

    ) open
  18. 121
    + 6
    - 7

    added by MejaEhrenström Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Lara, Thomas Kretschmann

    ) open
  19. 74
    + 24
    - 30

    Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Lara, Jan Josef Liefers

    ) open
  20. 117
    + 2
    - 1

    new! & added by Joh1 Bradley Cooper

    ) open
  21. 4
    + 151
    - 50

    Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley

    ) open
  22. 8
    + 116
    - 90

    often listed James Franco, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin

    ) open
  23. 102
    + 8
    - 6

    Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, Julie Christie

    ) open
  24. 93
    + 20
    - 37

    Burt Reynolds, Kelly Preston, Alicia Witt

    ) open
  25. 61
    + 42
    - 47
    ) open
  26. 54
    + 27
    - 16

    added by wiabux Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson, Forest Whitaker

    ) open
  27. 7
    + 151
    - 61

    Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Billy Gilbert

    ) open
  28. 15
    + 87
    - 55

    Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell

    ) open
  29. 42
    + 40
    - 42

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Meryl Streep, Iain Glen, Jim Broadbent

    ) open
  30. 40
    + 77
    - 55

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

    ) open
  31. 64
    + 32
    - 30

    Martha Higareda, Édgar Ramírez, Emmanuelle Bercot

    ) open
  32. 68
    + 20
    - 21

    Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Tim Burton

    ) open
  33. 97
    + 5
    - 0

    added by bobcatbowen Henry Fonda, John Carradine, John Qualen

    ) open
  34. 26
    + 98
    - 54

    Katie Holmes, Robert Duvall, Maria Bello

    ) open
  35. 88
    + 30
    - 10

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

    ) open
  36. 136
    + 12
    - 21

    added by stubb Winona Ryder, Shannen Doherty, Christian Slater

    ) open
  37. 30
    + 77
    - 42
    ) open
  38. 35
    + 97
    - 64

    Salma Hayek, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas

    ) open
  39. 120
    + 10
    - 19

    Andy Griffith, Rip Torn, Walter Matthau

    ) open
  40. 10
    + 157
    - 47

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

    ) open
  41. 66
    + 30
    - 32

    George Stephanopoulos

    ) open
  42. 89
    + 25
    - 44

    Kirsten Dunst, Will Ferrell, Ryan Reynolds

    ) open
  43. 46
    + 52
    - 42

    Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs

    ) open
  44. 43
    + 32
    - 20

    added by wiabux George Clooney, Matt Damon, Amanda Peet

    ) open
  45. 28
    + 98
    - 57

    George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Daniels

    ) open
  46. 71
    + 30
    - 27

    added by Abbey Grantham Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston

    ) open
  47. 65
    + 40
    - 38

    George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei

    ) open
  48. 76
    + 21
    - 30

    Peter Boyle, Robert Forster, Peter Bonerz

    ) open
  49. 41
    + 62
    - 48

    William Hurt, Lee Marvin, Brian Dennehy

    ) open
  50. 75
    + 23
    - 16

    Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx

    ) open
137 +

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