Best Movie Genres 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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list ordered by
1
446 146
All the President's Men is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Richard Nixon, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford
All the President's Men is a 1976 American political thriller film directed by Alan J. Pakula. The screenplay by William Goldman is based on the 1974 non-fiction book of the same name by Carl ...more
2
601 152
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Lear... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
James Earl Jones, Peter Sellers, George C. Scott
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, more commonly known as Dr. Strangelove, is a 1964 political satire black comedy film that satirizes fears of a nuclear ...more
3
327 115
The Manchurian Candidate is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh
The Manchurian Candidate is a 1962 American Cold War suspense thriller directed by John Frankenheimer that stars Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Janet Leigh and co-stars Angela Lansbury, ...more
4
420 159
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley
Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama, directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Thomas ...more
5
274 138
Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Daniel Day-Lewis, Ben Kingsley, Martin Sheen
Gandhi is a 1982 epic biographical film which dramatises the life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the leader of India's non-violent, non-cooperative independence movement against the United ...more
6
309 101
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
James Stewart, Claude Rains, Jean Arthur
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a 1939 American political comedy-drama film, starring James Stewart and Jean Arthur, about one man's effect on American politics. It was directed by Frank Capra ...more
7
246 103
Hotel Rwanda is listed (or ranked) 7 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
8
292 136
The Great Dictator is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Billy Gilbert
The Great Dictator is a 1940 American satirical political comedy-drama film starring, written, produced, scored, and directed by Charlie Chaplin, following the tradition of many of his other ...more
9
171 82
Judgment at Nuremberg is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Judy Garland, William Shatner, Marlene Dietrich
Judgment at Nuremberg is a 1961 American drama film dealing with the Holocaust and with the post-WWII geo-political complexity of the Nuremberg Trials. The picture was written by Abby Mann and ...more
10
295 163
JFK is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon
JFK is a 1991 American historical legal-conspiracy thriller film directed by Oliver Stone. It examines the events leading to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and subsequent ...more
11
254 136
Wag the Dog is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Kirsten Dunst, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman
Wag the Dog is a 1997 black comedy film produced and directed by Barry Levinson. The screenplay by Hilary Henkin and David Mamet was loosely adapted from Larry Beinhart's novel American Hero. ...more
12
230 197
Milk is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
James Franco, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin
Milk is a 2008 American biographical film based on the life of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk, who was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California, ...more
13
205 102
Mississippi Burning is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand
Mississippi Burning is a 1988 American thriller film directed by Alan Parker and written by Chris Gerolmo. It was loosely based on the FBI investigation into the incidents involving of three ...more
14
238 105
American History X is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly DAngelo
American History X is a 1998 American drama film directed by Tony Kaye and written by David McKenna. It stars Edward Norton and Edward Furlong, and co-stars Fairuza Balk, Stacy Keach, Elliott ...more
15
157 86
All the King's Men is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Broderick Crawford, John Ireland, John Derek
All the King's Men is a 1949 drama film with noir-themed overtones set in a political setting directed by Robert Rossen and based on the Robert Penn Warren novel of the same name. The production ...more
16
240 110
A Clockwork Orange is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Malcolm McDowell, Warren Clarke, Steven Berkoff
A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 dystopian crime film adapted, produced, and directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on Anthony Burgess's 1962 novella A Clockwork Orange. It employs disturbing, violent ...more
17
148 83
Frost/Nixon is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Michael Sheen
Frost/Nixon is a 2008 British-American historical drama film based on the 2006 play of the same name by Peter Morgan, who also adapted the screenplay. The film tells the story behind the ...more
18
185 59
Lawrence of Arabia is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness
Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British epic adventure drama film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel. The film stars Peter O'Toole in the ...more
19
173 115
Being There is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Shirley MacLaine, Peter Sellers, Jack Warden
Being There is a 1979 American comedy-drama film directed by Hal Ashby. Adapted from the 1970 novella by Jerzy Kosinski, the screenplay was written by Kosinski and the uncredited Robert C. ...more
20
135 72
Three Days of the Condor is listed (or ranked) 20 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
21
125 73
In the Name of the Father is listed (or ranked) 21 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
22
162 113
The Queen is listed (or ranked) 22 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
23
244 148
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson
Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical medieval war drama film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First ...more
24
296 152
V for Vendetta is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Natalie Portman, John Hurt, Hugo Weaving
V for Vendetta is a 2006 American political thriller film directed by James McTeigue and written by the Wachowski Brothers, based on the 1988 Vertigo graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore ...more
25
144 74
Charlie Wilson's War is listed (or ranked) 25 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