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203 voters

35+ Great Political Movies Based on True Stories

Updated June 19, 2020 1.6k votes 203 voters 11.3k views47 items

Sometimes the truth is more entertaining than fiction, especially when it comes to films inspired by real-life political events, scandals, and personalities. The top true politics movies are typically about a major event that changed the scope of government. This is a list of true political movies featuring everything from All the President's Men to The Last King of Scotland to Malcolm X.

What classics will you find on this list of movies based on true politics? Maybe you'll vote Lincoln to the top. Daniel Day-Lewis took home the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the 16th president, in a film examining the time when he abolished slavery. Hyde Park on Hudson, which offers a look at the personal life of Franklin D. Roosevelt, is another good movie about a political figure. Nelson Mandela was the subject of the acclaimed 2013 film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Other notable movies featured in this roundup include Patton, The King's Speech, and The Ides of March.

Which political true stories are the best? Give your favorite films a thumbs up to move them to the number-one spot, and add any great flicks that are missing.

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    Lincoln

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daniel Day-Lewis

    Released2012

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    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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    All the President's Men

    Richard Nixon, Dustin Hoffman

    Released1976

    Directed byAlan J. Pakula

    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

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    Milk

    James Franco, Sean Penn

    Released2008

    Directed byGus Van Sant

    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, as a...  more

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    The King's Speech

    Helena Bonham Carter, Colin Firth

    Released2010

    Directed byTom Hooper

    The King's Speech is a 2010 British historical drama film directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler. Colin Firth plays King George VI who, to cope with a stammer, sees Lionel Logue, an...  more

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    The Queen

    Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen

    Released2006

    Directed byStephen Frears

    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

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    Munich

    Daniel Craig, Eric Bana

    Released2005

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    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

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    JFK

    Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman

    Released1991

    Directed byOliver Stone

    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 cover-up...  more

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    Patton

    George C. Scott, Karl Malden

    Released1970

    Directed byFranklin J. Schaffner

    Patton is a 1970 American epic biographical film about U.S. General George S. Patton during WWII. It stars George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Michael Bates and Karl Michael Vogler. It was directed by...  more

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    Vice

    Christian Bale, Amy Adams

    Released2018

    Directed byAdam McKay

    Vice is a 2018 biographical comedy-drama film directed by Adam McKay. The story of Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), the most powerful Vice President in history, and how his policies changed the world as...  more
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    Gandhi

    Daniel Day-Lewis, Ben Kingsley

    Released1982

    Directed byRichard Attenborough

    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 Kingdom's...  more

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    Thirteen Days

    Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood

    Released2000

    Directed byRoger Donaldson

    Thirteen Days is a 2000 American historical drama-thriller film directed by Roger Donaldson Kevin Costner stars, with Bruce Greenwood featured as President John F. Kennedy, Steven Culp as Attorney...  more

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    Oslo

    Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott

    Released2021

    Directed byBartlett Sher

    Oslo is a 2021 American historical drama film directed by Bartlett Sher, based on the play by J. T. Rogers. Recounts the true-life, previously secret, back-channel negotiations in the development of...  more
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    Frost/Nixon

    Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell

    Released2008

    Directed byRon Howard

    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 Frost/Nixon...  more

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    Malcolm X

    Denzel Washington, Al Sharpton

    Released1992

    Directed bySpike Lee

    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

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    The Last King of Scotland

    Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson

    Released2006

    Directed byKevin Macdonald

    The Last King of Scotland is a 2006 British fiction drama film based on Giles Foden's novel of the same name, adapted by screenwriters Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock, and directed by Kevin MacDonald....  more

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    Snowden

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley

    Released2016

    Directed byOliver Stone

    Snowden is a 2016 biographical spy thriller film directed by Oliver Stone, based on books by Luke Harding and Anatoly Kucherena. The NSA's illegal surveillance techniques are leaked to the public by...  more
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    Good Night, and Good Luck

    George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr.

    Released2005

    Directed byGeorge Clooney

    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

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    The Last Emperor

    Peter O'Toole, Joan Chen

    Released1987

    Directed byBernardo Bertolucci

    The Last Emperor is a 1987 biographical film about the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China, whose autobiography was the basis for the screenplay written by Mark Peploe and Bernardo Bertolucci....  more

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    Selma

    Oprah Winfrey, Common

    Released2014

    Directed byAva DuVernay

    Selma is a 2014 historical drama film directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Paul Webb. It is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by James Bevel, Hosea Williams, and...  more

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    Invictus

    Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon

    Released2009

    Directed byClint Eastwood

    "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 (Matt...  more

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    Charlie Wilson's War

    Julia Roberts, Amy Adams

    Released2007

    Directed byMike Nichols

    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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    The Insider

    Al Pacino, Russell Crowe

    Released1999

    Directed byMichael Mann

    The Insider is a 1999 American drama film directed by Michael Mann, based on the true story of a 60 Minutes segment about Jeffrey Wigand, a whistleblower in the tobacco industry. The 60 Minutes story...  more

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    The Special Relationship

    Dennis Quaid, Michael Sheen

    Released2010

    Directed byRichard Loncraine

    The Special Relationship is a 2010 British-American political film directed by Richard Loncraine from a screenplay by Peter Morgan. It is the third film in Morgan's informal "Blair trilogy", which...  more
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    Game Change

    Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson

    Released2012

    Directed byJay Roach

    Game Change is a 2012 American HBO political drama film based on events of the 2008 United States presidential election campaign, directed by Jay Roach and written by Danny Strong, based on the 2010...  more
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    Syriana

    George Clooney, Matt Damon

    Released2005

    Directed byStephen Gaghan

    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 screenplay is...  more

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