Entertainment

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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26
The Mouse That Roared is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Peter Sellers, Jean Seberg, William Hartnell
The Mouse That Roared is a 1959 comedy film written by Roger MacDougall and Stanley Mann directed by Jack Arnold. "The Mouse That Roared was made into a 1959 film starring Peter Sellers in ...more
27
The American President is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Annette Bening, Michael J. Fox, Michael Douglas
The American President is a 1995 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Rob Reiner and written by Aaron Sorkin. The film stars Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, Martin Sheen, Michael J. ...more
28
The Godfather is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
testvikas2 added Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall
The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel by Mario Puzo. The aging patriarch (Marlon Brando) of an organized crime dynasty transfers ...more
29
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
sebbzor added Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Gary Oldman
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a 2011 espionage film directed by Tomas Alfredson. The screenplay was written by Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan, based on the 1974 novel of the same name by ...more
30
Hotel Rwanda is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Don Cheadle
Hotel Rwanda is a 2004 American historical drama film directed by Terry George. It was adapted from a screenplay written by both George and Keir Pearson. It stars Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo ...more
31
Argo is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Abbey Grantham added Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston
Argo is a 2012 American political thriller film directed by Ben Affleck. The film is adapted from U.S. Central Intelligence Agency operative Tony Mendez's book The Master of Disguise and Joshuah ...more
32
The Battle of Algiers is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
stubb added Jean Martin, Saadi Yacef, Gene Wesson
The Battle of Algiers is a 1966 film based on occurrences against the French government in North Africa, the most prominent being the titular Battle of Algiers. An Italo-Algerian production, it ...more
33
Fail Safe is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
stubb added Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, Larry Hagman
Fail-Safe is a 1964 Cold thriller film directed by Sidney Lumet, based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler. The film features performances by veteran actors ...more
34
The Queen is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell
The Queen is a 2006 British historical drama film depicting the British Royal Family's response to Diana, Princess of Wales on 31 August 1997. The film was directed by Stephen Frears, written by ...more
35
Paths of Glory is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
bobcatbowen added Kirk Douglas, Adolphe Menjou, Richard Anderson
Paths of Glory is a 1957 American film by Stanley Kubrick based on the novel of the same name by Humphrey Cobb. Set during WWI, the film stars Kirk Douglas as Colonel Dax, the commanding officer ...more
36
Charlie Wilson's War is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, Tom Hanks
Charlie Wilson's War is a 2007 American biographical comedy-drama film, recounting the true story of U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson who partnered with CIA operative Gust Avrakotos to launch ...more
37
Team America: World Police is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Matt Stone, Trey Parker, Maurice LaMarche
Team America: World Police is a 2004 American satirical action comedy film written by Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Pam Brady and directed by Parker, all of whom are also known for the popular ...more
38
Three Days of the Condor is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Max von Sydow
Three Days of the Condor is a 1975 American political thriller film directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, and Max von Sydow. The screenplay by ...more
39
Z is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Jean-Louis Trintignant, Yves Montand, Jacques Perrin
Z is a 1969 Algerian French language political thriller directed by Costa-Gavras, with a screenplay by Gavras and Jorge Semprún, based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Vassilis ...more
40
The Lives of Others is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Ulrich Tukur, Ulrich Mühe, Martina Gedeck
The Lives of Others is a 2006 German drama film, marking the feature film debut of filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, about the monitoring of East Berlin by agents of the Stasi, the ...more
41
Reds is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Gene Hackman
Reds is a 1981 epic film that was co-written, produced, and directed by Warren Beatty. The picture centers on the life and career of John Reed, the journalist and writer who chronicled the ...more
42
In the Name of the Father is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Daniel Day-Lewis, Emma Thompson, Tom Wilkinson
In the Name of the Father is a 1993 Irish-British-American biographical courtroom drama film co-written and directed by Jim Sheridan. It is based on the true life story of the Guildford Four, ...more
43
Apocalypse Now is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
drkaramaniac added Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall
Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic adventure war film set during the Vietnam War. Produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, and Robert Duvall. ...more
44
Election is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Reese Witherspoon, Matthew Broderick, Chris Klein
Election is a 1999 American comedy film directed and written by Alexander Payne and adapted by him and Jim Taylor from Tom Perrotta's 1998 novel of the same title. The plot revolves around a ...more
45
Michael Collins is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Julia Roberts, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman
Michael Collins is a 1996 historical biopic written and directed by Neil Jordan and starring Liam Neeson as Michael Collins. It won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
46
The Ides of March is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
George Clooney, Evan Rachel Wood, Ryan Gosling
The Ides of March is a 2011 American political drama film directed by George Clooney from a screenplay written by Clooney, along with Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon. The film is an adaptation of ...more
47
Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Denzel Washington, Al Sharpton, Nelson Mandela
Malcolm X is a 1992 American biographical drama film about the African-American activist Malcolm X. Directed and co-written by Spike Lee. The film dramatizes key events in Malcolm X's life: his ...more
48
Brazil is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Robert De Niro, Bob Hoskins, Ian Holm
Brazil is a 1985 British film directed by Terry Gilliam and written by Gilliam, Charles McKeown, and Tom Stoppard. British National Cinema by Sarah Street describes the film as a ...more
49
Network is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Tom Islava added Robert Duvall, Faye Dunaway, William Holden
Network is a 1976 American satirical film written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet, about a fictional television network, UBS, and its struggle with poor ratings. The film stars ...more
50
The Falcon and the Snowman is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Sean Penn, Timothy Hutton, Michael Ironside
The Falcon and the Snowman is a 1985 spy film directed by John Schlesinger about two young American men, Christopher Boyce and Daulton Lee, who sold U.S. security secrets to the Soviet Union. ...more