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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1
435 139
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
319 111
The Manchurian Candidate is listed (or ranked) 2 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

3
580 150
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Lear... is listed (or ranked) 3 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

4
399 156
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
265 134
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
297 99
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
240 101
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
167 81
Judgment at Nuremberg is listed (or ranked) 8 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

9
284 136
The Great Dictator is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
249 131
Wag the Dog is listed (or ranked) 10 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

11
286 159
JFK is listed (or ranked) 11 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

12
225 192
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
200 98
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
228 103
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
152 85
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
232 104
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
138 80
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
180 58
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
170 113
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
131 70
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
121 72
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
238 136
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 22 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

23
155 110
The Queen is listed (or ranked) 23 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

24
290 147
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
138 71
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

26
95 88
Michael Collins is listed (or ranked) 26 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, the Irish patriot and revolutionary who died in the Irish Civil War. ...more

27
152 99
Dave is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Frank Langella Dave is a 1993 American political comedy film directed by Ivan Reitman. To avoid a potentially explosive scandal when the U.S. President goes into a coma, an affable temp agency owner (Kevin ...more

28
197 80
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nes... is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a 1975 drama film written by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman and directed by Miloš Forman.

29
182 83
Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field Lincoln is a 2012 American epic historical drama film directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as United States President Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. The ...more

30
180 92
Good Night, and Good Luck is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Daniels Good Night, and Good Luck. is a 2005 American drama film directed by George Clooney and starring David Strathairn, Clooney, Robert Downey, Jr., Patricia Clarkson and Jeff Daniels. The movie was ...more

31
158 93
Thank You for Smoking is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Katie Holmes, Robert Duvall, Maria Bello Thank You for Smoking is a 2005 comedy-drama film written and directed by Jason Reitman and starring Aaron Eckhart, based on the 1994 satirical novel of the same name by Christopher Buckley. It ...more

32
137 67
Seven Days in May is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Kirk Douglas, Ava Gardner, Burt Lancaster Seven Days in May is a 1964 drama-romance film written by Fletcher Knebel, Charles W. Bailey II and Rod Serling and directed by John Frankenheimer.

33
78 61
Good bye, Lenin! is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Daniel Brühl, Chulpan Khamatova, Florian Lukas Good Bye, Lenin! is a 2003 German tragicomedy film. Directed by Wolfgang Becker, the cast includes Daniel Brühl, Katrin Saß, Chulpan Khamatova, and Maria Simon. Most scenes were shot ...more

34
130 88
The American President is listed (or ranked) 34 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

35
105 43
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is listed (or ranked) 35 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

36
99 46
Inherit the Wind is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly, Harry Morgan Inherit the Wind is a 1960 Hollywood film adaptation of the play of the same name, written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, directed by Stanley Kramer. It stars Spencer Tracy as lawyer ...more

37
143 101
Traffic is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Salma Hayek, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas Traffic is a 2000 American drama film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Stephen Gaghan. It explores the trade from a number of perspectives: a user, an enforcer, a politician and a ...more

38
107 85
Munich is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Daniel Craig, Eric Bana, Geoffrey Rush Munich is a 2005 historical drama and political thriller film based on Operation Wrath of God, the Israeli government's secret retaliation against the Palestine Liberation Organization after the ...more

39
107 72
The Mouse That Roared is listed (or ranked) 39 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

40
88 43
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
69 32
Fail Safe is listed (or ranked) 41 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

42
172 113
Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 42 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

43
70 61
The Constant Gardener is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy The Constant Gardener is a 2005 drama thriller film directed by Fernando Meirelles. The screenplay by Jeffrey Caine is based on the John le Carré novel of the same name. The film follows ...more

44
122 91
Nixon is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Anthony Hopkins, James Woods, Ed Harris Nixon is a 1995 American biographical film directed by Oliver Stone for Cinergi Pictures that tells the story of the political and personal life of United States President Richard Nixon, played ...more

45
78 88
Invictus is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Langley Kirkwood "From director Clint Eastwood, “Invictus” tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) joined forces with the captain of South Africa’s rugby team, Francois Pienaar ...more

46
74 74
Battleship Potemkin is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
stubb added Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov, Aleksandr Antonov Battleship Potemkin, sometimes rendered as Battleship Potyomkin, is a 1925 silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein and produced by Mosfilm. It presents a dramatized version of the mutiny that ...more

47
82 59
Syriana is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
wiabux added George Clooney, Matt Damon, Amanda Peet Syriana is a 2005 geopolitical thriller film written and directed by Stephen Gaghan, and executive produced by George Clooney, who also stars in the film with an ensemble cast. Gaghan's ...more

48
70 39
The Battle of Algiers is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
stubb added Jean Martin, Saadi Yacef, Gene Wesson The Battle of Algiers is a 1966 war film based on occurrences during the Algerian War against the French government in North Africa, the most prominent being the titular Battle of Algiers. An ...more

49
92 60
The Ides of March is listed (or ranked) 49 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

50
71 61
Young Mr. Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Henry Fonda, Ward Bond, Donald Meek Young Mr. Lincoln is a 1939 partly fictionalized biopic about the early life of President Abraham Lincoln, directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda. Ford and producer Darryl F. Zanuck ...more