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
426 134
All the President's Men is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
All the President's Men 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
316 107
The Manchurian Candidate is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
The Manchurian Candidate 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

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569 145
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Lear... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb 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 the cold war fears of a ...more

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384 155
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Schindler's List 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

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258 132
Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Gandhi 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

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287 96
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington 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

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234 100
Hotel Rwanda is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Hotel Rwanda 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
277 133
The Great Dictator is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
The Great Dictator 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

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244 129
Wag the Dog is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Wag the Dog 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

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281 157
JFK is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
JFK 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
161 80
Judgment at Nuremberg is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Judgment at Nuremberg Judy Garland, William Shatner, Marlene Dietrich Judgment at Nuremberg is a 1961 American drama film dealing with the Holocaust, with non-combatant war crimes against a civilian population, and with the post-World War II geo-political ...more

12
219 187
Milk is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Milk 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
194 98
Mississippi Burning is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Mississippi Burning Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand Mississippi Burning is a 1988 American crime thriller film directed by Alan Parker and written by Chris Gerolmo. It was loosely based on the FBI investigation into the murders of three civil ...more

14
221 99
American History X is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
American History X Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly DAngelo American History X is a 1998 American crime 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, ...more

15
148 81
All the King's Men is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
All the King's Men 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
228 99
A Clockwork Orange is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
A Clockwork Orange 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
178 53
Lawrence of Arabia is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Lawrence of Arabia 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 through his British company, Horizon ...more

18
168 110
Being There is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Being There 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

19
130 66
Three Days of the Condor is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Three Days of the Condor 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

20
133 77
Frost/Nixon is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Frost/Nixon 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

21
117 69
In the Name of the Father is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
In the Name of the Father 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
232 132
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Braveheart 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

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150 105
The Queen is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
The Queen Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell The Queen is a 2006 British historical drama film depicting the British Royal Family's response to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales on 31 August 1997. The film was directed by Stephen ...more

24
284 139
V for Vendetta is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
V for Vendetta 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

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134 67
Charlie Wilson's War is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Charlie Wilson's War 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

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Michael Collins is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Michael Collins 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

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149 95
Dave is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Dave 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

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190 78
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nes... is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 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.

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Good Night, and Good Luck is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Good Night, and Good Luck 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

30
137 64
Seven Days in May is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Seven Days in May 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.

31
155 91
Thank You for Smoking is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Thank You for Smoking 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
172 83
Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Lincoln 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

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72 58
Good bye, Lenin! is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Good bye, Lenin! 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
125 85
The American President is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
The American President 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
101 41
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
sebbzor added Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Gary Oldman Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a 2011 Cold War 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 ...more

36
141 97
Traffic is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Traffic Salma Hayek, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas Traffic is a 2000 American crime drama film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Stephen Gaghan. It explores the illegal drug trade from a number of perspectives: a user, an enforcer, a ...more

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98 44
Inherit the Wind is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Inherit the Wind 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

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106 69
The Mouse That Roared is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
The Mouse That Roared 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

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67 30
Fail Safe is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
stubb added Fail Safe Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, Larry Hagman Fail-Safe is a 1964 Cold war thriller film directed by Sidney Lumet, based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler. It portrays a fictional account of a Cold War ...more

40
102 82
Munich is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Munich 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

41
84 41
The Lives of Others is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
The Lives of Others 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

42
69 57
The Constant Gardener is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
The Constant Gardener 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

43
167 109
Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Malcolm X 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 stars Denzel Washington in the title role, as ...more

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75 83
Invictus is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Invictus 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

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82 55
Syriana is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
wiabux added Syriana 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

46
117 89
Nixon is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Nixon 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

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67 35
The Battle of Algiers is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
stubb added The Battle of Algiers 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

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Battleship Potemkin is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
stubb added Battleship Potemkin 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

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Young Mr. Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Young Mr. Lincoln 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

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89 57
The Ides of March is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
The Ides of March 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