Some of the hardest films to watch have to do with either domestic, or foreign, politics. It isn’t that they subject matter isn’t important or that we, as citizens of a major global player shouldn’t be paying attention. It’s just that movies that deal with politics can wear you down in so many ways including, but not limited to: emotionally, psychologically, socially, and physically. Life tends to be hard enough to deal with, and the last thing we need is to lump onto it some scathing political satire or drama.
But, if you are a fan of truly powerful cinema, your curse as a dedicated movie buff is to try to understand the intricate beauty and grace of a great political film. But what of the aspiring movie buff who isn’t sure where to start when it comes to watching political movies? Is there a good place to start? Is there a definitive list?
If you’re a relative noob with political movies, here are seven classic films that will at least give you some good “street cred” with more established movie buffs:
The Manchurian Candidate (original 1962 version) – Sleeper agents, brainwashing, The Korean War, the Cold War, McCarthyism, and assassinations. This movie has it all, including an outstanding cast. This film also provides a can’t-miss performance from Angela Lansbury.
All The President’s Men – Even though this movie was Oscar material through and through, the twisted tale of the Watergate scandal presented in real-time in the pages of The Washington Post was even more addictive.
Bulworth – Released two decades ago, this innovative film tells the tale of a politician who can, now free from the clutches of lobbyists, tell it like it is. At a time when so many believe they’re being given the “real deal” from a man of the people & all they’re doing is being conned, this movie deserves to be revisited.
Election – We all know high-school can be brutal, but who knew high-school politics could be so ruthless? A diabolical funny mix of dark humor, drama, and heart make this movie one of the unique picks for a political film. Even if you’re just looking for a killer movie, go with this one. It rocks.
Dave – Can the American people be duped into not recognizing an imposter is posing as President? This film explores this possibility, as well as what it would be like if a regular guy actually got to be president. The operative word is ‘regular’.
Milk – The grit of the 1970s, high tension over LGBTQ rights, and everyone refuses to back down. This is the story of one of the most interesting political figures in our country and the horrific chain of events around his demise.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb – There isn’t much to say here except that you need to watch this movie. It’s one of the best ever made, and its sheer genius is breathtaking.
Hopefully, you’ll gather that these films are a cross-section of the type of films to watch when you’re tackling a specific theme. If all you did was watch serious thrillers or dramas, you’d be toast. This list gives you some light-heartedness and, dare we say, comedy. Movies are supposed to be a fun way to forget about life for a while. Right now, our political environment is a bit uneasy, and it can be a little too convenient to gloss over politically-heavy material. Unfortunately, you’d be missing out on some of the great cinematic gems of the last six decades.