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.Check out more lists like this awesome collection of political thrillers, slave movies that will make you question the justice of history, and the top napoleon movies ever made.
Actors: James Earl Jones, Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens, + more
Initial Release: 1964
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
#54 on The Best War Movies Ever
#11 on The Best Movies of the '60s
#80 on The Best Movies of All Timesee more on Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Actors: Richard Nixon, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Gerald Ford, Meredith Baxter, + more
Initial Release: 1976
Directed by: Alan J. Pakula
#18 on The Best '70s Moviessee more on All the President's Men
Actors: Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh, Laurence Harvey, Henry Silva, + more
Initial Release: 1962
Directed by: John Frankenheimer
#29 on The Best Movies of the '60s
#13 on The Best Memory Loss Moviessee more on The Manchurian Candidate
Actors: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Embeth Davidtz, Norbert Weisser, + more
Initial Release: 1993
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
#9 on The Best War Movies Ever
#52 on The Greatest Movie Themessee more on Schindler's List