Entertainment

The Best Political Films Ever Made  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
24.6k votes 1.9k voters 138.3k views 318 items

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
list ordered by
1
Mr. Smith Goes to Washin... is listed (or ranked) 1 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

More Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

#640 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #13 of 80 The Most Patriotic Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

2
Dr. Strangelove or: How ... 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

More Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

#132 of 347 The Best Movies Based On Books #50 of 382 The Best War Movies Ever #517 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

3
All the President's Men ... is listed (or ranked) 3 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

More All the President's Men

#102 of 257 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #95 of 347 The Best Movies Based On Bookslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
The Great Dictator is listed (or ranked) 4 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

More The Great Dictator

#60 of 220 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time #261 of 992 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films #3 of 54 The Funniest Comedy Movies About Politics

5
Lawrence of Arabia is listed (or ranked) 5 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

More Lawrence of Arabia

#5 of 382 The Best War Movies Ever #11 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

6
The Manchurian Candidate... is listed (or ranked) 6 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

More The Manchurian Candidate

#37 of 257 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #501 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #294 of 460 The Most Quotable Movies of All Time

7
All the King's Men is listed (or ranked) 7 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

More All the King's Men

#76 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies #46 of 70 The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940slisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

8
JFK is listed (or ranked) 8 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

More JFK

#174 of 257 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #629 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

9
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 9 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

More Schindler's List

#8 of 347 The Best Movies Based On Books #8 of 382 The Best War Movies Everlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

10
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

More Wag the Dog

#263 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #834 of 992 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films #5 of 54 The Funniest Comedy Movies About Politics

11
V for Vendetta is listed (or ranked) 11 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

More V for Vendetta

#33 of 347 The Best Movies Based On Books #162 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #103 of 157 The Best Science Fiction Action Movies

12
The Godfather is listed (or ranked) 12 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

More The Godfather

#1 of 347 The Best Movies Based On Booksfeaturing How 'The Godfather' Became An American Classic Even Though It Was 'Nightmarish' Behind The Sceneslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

13
Judgment at Nuremberg is listed (or ranked) 13 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

More Judgment at Nuremberg

#38 of 220 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time #794 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

14
One Flew Over the Cuckoo... is listed (or ranked) 14 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 MiloŇ° Forman.

More One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

#23 of 347 The Best Movies Based On Books #8 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

15
Being There is listed (or ranked) 15 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

More Being There

#231 of 347 The Best Movies Based On Books #856 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

16
Mississippi Burning is listed (or ranked) 16 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

More Mississippi Burning

#262 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #222 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

17
American History X is listed (or ranked) 17 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

More American History X

#205 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #5 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #216 of 460 The Most Quotable Movies of All Time

18
Paths of Glory is listed (or ranked) 18 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

More Paths of Glory

#40 of 382 The Best War Movies Ever #239 of 291 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #34 of 46 The Greatest Legal Dramas Ever Made

19
The Grapes of Wrath is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
bobcatbowen added Henry Fonda, John Carradine, John Qualen
The Grapes of Wrath is a 1940 drama film directed by John Ford. It was based on John Steinbeck's 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. The screenplay was written by Nunnally ...more

More The Grapes of Wrath

#63 of 347 The Best Movies Based On Books #739 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

20
Network is listed (or ranked) 20 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

More Network

#656 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #212 of 460 The Most Quotable Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

21
Good Night, and Good Luc... is listed (or ranked) 21 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

More Good Night, and Good Luck

#187 of 240 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #177 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars #12 of 41 35+ Great Political Movies Based on True Stories

22
A Clockwork Orange is listed (or ranked) 22 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

More A Clockwork Orange

#51 of 347 The Best Movies Based On Books #476 of 769 The Best Horror Movies of All Timefeaturing Kubrick And Codpieces: Behind The Scenes Of 'A Clockwork Orange'

23
Seven Days in May is listed (or ranked) 23 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.

More Seven Days in May

#99 of 194 The Best Movies of the '60s #179 of 303 The Best Military Movies Ever Made #33 of 96 The Best Selling Novels of the 1960s

24
Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 24 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

More Gandhi

#37 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies #183 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

25
Citizen Kane is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Political Films Ever Made
Tom Islava added Orson Welles, Alan Ladd, Agnes Moorehead
Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film produced by, co-written by, directed by and starring Orson Welles. The picture was Welles's first feature film. The film was nominated for Academy ...more

More Citizen Kane

#353 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #22 of 24 The Best Movies with Twist Endingslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever