Readers' Choice: 10 Best Political Films

It's a holiday. The family may gather. With the fiscal cliff in the news, talk may shift to politics. Deflect those political passions with a movie. Here are some of the best.


Holidays often mean family gatherings and with fiscal cliff negotiations in the news, there's always the risk that passions will flare. Channel that energy into a more entertaining direction by suggesting that folks watch a political movie.

Here's 10 suggestions from Patch readers. Test your own political skills and see if you can form a majority coalition to watch one of them.

Amy Nelson Smith suggests The Candidate, a 1972 film starring Robert Redford with an Academy Award winning screenplay by a former Eugene McCarthy staffer.

Dean Calbreath recommends be another Redford film, in which he plays opposite Dustin Hoffman in the Watergate whodunit, All the President's Men.

Want something younger and irreverent?

Alex Crown suggests Team America, an animated flick from the creators of South Park about an elite counter-terrorism squad out to police the world. 

Tony Ebster votes for Bulworth , starring Warren Beatty as the disillusioned liberal politician who throws caution to the winds and speaks his mind.

In the uncomfortably funny department, Nancy Garcia, Lee Thomas, Suzy Flory and Harvey Wong all recommend Wag the Dog, with an all-star cast who conspire to fabricate a war to distract voters.

Randall Wright and Joyce Tavares tout Primary Colors, featuring John Travolta as an oversexed presidential candidate resembling you know who.

Carey Sanchez Para, Kris Loberg and Christopher Carfi all like Bob Roberts, with Tim Robbins as a rightwing folksinger running a crooked election campaign.

But let's not be so cynical.

Joseph K. Schwarz reaches back to the 1939 classic, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington -- but be forewarned. Some viewers might construe the film's denoument, starring frog-voiced Jimmy Stewart, as taking sides in the current debate over filibuster reform.

I'l end with two editor's picks, one highbrow, the other decidedly not.

The Seduction of Joe Tynan stars Alan Alda as the senator caught between his public principles and personal appetites, with a superb supporting role by actress Meryl Streep.

Finally, actor Will Ferrell packs his scatalogical humor and current political cliches into The Candidate, a brainless romp through our money-drenched electoral process. Parental discretion is advised. I would not show this to pre-teens. 

But the movie made me LMAO, as the text generation says. If you do watch it, I doubt you will be able to keep a straight face through the scene in which Ferrell tries to recite the Lord's Prayer to demonstrate his committment to religion.

What did we leave out? Add your pics and pans in the comments below.

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Craig Williams January 01, 2013 at 05:49 PM
I would nominate "Heist" Who stole the American Dream," by Donald Goldmacher. Donald lives in Berkeley and once worked with me to organize an event in the back of Zocalo's for Debra Bowen, our State Secretary. Only a few people showed up . We tried to approach some of the Zocalo customers but didn't have much luck. Goldmachers film has been getting good reviews and is a solid presentation on the de-regulation of the economy and the eventual heist of our populist prosperity.
Tom Abate January 01, 2013 at 05:54 PM
Hmnnn. Not many laughs in that. But maybe if you bring popcorn :)
Craig Williams January 01, 2013 at 07:46 PM
For humor how about the HBO series Veep , staring Julia Louis Dreyfus , directed Armando Iannucci who also directed a very funny, must see movie in 2009 "In the Loop."Dreyfus was voted best comedic actor this year for her role as VP. 'In the Loop" was irreverent as you can get. Innucci's style highlights the self centered opportunism which permeates politics. He's a master at highlighting these traits.


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