It’s only natural that Hollywood would make so many movies that focus on elections. After all, the election season gives us all the emotional highs and lows of a good movie along with some truly unforgettable characters.
But like the elections themselves, some election movies are more interesting than others. Which are worth your time to sit down and watch? We’ve compiled the definitive list of the 10 best election movies ever made!
If you’re looking for great election movies, you can’t skip this 1999 cult classic. And not just because it has the word “election” right there in the title!
Reese Witherspoon plays a cutthroat highschooler running for class president, and Matthew Broderick is a beloved history teacher who gets in her way.
Their clashes are both funny and memorable, and this film offers some surprising insight into the primordial clay used to shape future politicians.
Wag the Dog (1997)
If you like dark comedy, Wag the Dog (1997) is a must-see. It blends reality and comedy together to deliver a few interesting messages and more than a few laughs.
With hilarious performances by Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman, this film presents a president trying to distract from a burgeoning sex scandal. The solution is simple: create a fake war overseas to captivate the public!
We can only guess that Bill Clinton was kicking himself for not trying this out in real life back during his presidency.
In the Line of Fire (1993)
In the Line of Fire may not be the most realistic movie on this list. But in many ways, it may very well be the most intense selection.
In this 1993 movie, Clint Eastwood plays a Secret Service agent who previously failed to save John F. Kennedy from being assassinated. Now, he’s protecting the current president and trying to protect him from an ex-CIA assassin played by John Malovich.
With leads this powerful, election movies don’t get any more gripping!
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
The premise of The Manchurian Candidate is outlandish. But the movie is so entertaining that it quickly entered the pop culture lexicon.
The Cold War-era plot involves a former war hero who gets brainwashed into trying to assassinate the president. While you could always watch the 2004 remake starring Denzel Washington, we prefer the original, with the unforgettable performance of Laurence Harvey.
Even if you don’t normally go for this sort of sci-fi plot, there are enough twists and turns to keep everyone engaged.
The Candidate (1972)
Robert Redford was seemingly made for election-centric movies. In his first appearance on this list, he plays Bill McKay, a man essentially forced into a heated presidential campaign.
The contrast between McKay’s nobility and the dirty world of politics is powerful, and Peter Boyle plays a wonderful foil to Redford. And with this Oscar-winning screenplay, you’ll have trouble tearing your eyes away from the screen!
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Black Sheep (1996)
There is a black sheep in every family, and they stand out that much more when one family member is a politician. That is the general premise of this comedy vehicle starring David Spade and Chris Farley.
Farley’s character Mike Donnelly just wants to help his brother campaign to become the governor of Washington. But his goofy antics threaten to actually end his brother’s political ambitions.
Any fan of comedies should watch this one, especially if you have fond memories of their earlier movie Tommy Boy.
All the President’s Men (1976)
There have been many different perspectives on the Watergate scandal that took down Richard Nixon. However, none of them have the power and passion of All the President’s Men.
In this movie, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman play Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as these intrepid reporters race to uncover the entire story. You don’t have to be a history buff or a political wonk to enjoy the breathless and exciting narrative as it unfolds.
Head of State (2003)
This election movie represents a bit of film history. That’s because it not only stars Chris Rock but serves as the actor and comedian’s directorial debut.
He plays a Washington D.C. alderman who is down on his luck. But due to weird circumstances, he is suddenly the Democratic nominee for president. As he gets used to the idea, we get a funny and insightful examination of politics and persona, with an unforgettable performance by Rock himself.
Game Change (2012)
This particular movie is based on a book, but the film version really brings everything to life. In it, Julianne Moore stuns in her portrayal of Sarah Palin and her inward and outward journey after being selected as John McCain’s presidential running mate.
Ed Harris does a powerful job playing McCain, and the charming Woody Harrelson is wonderful as campaign strategist Steve Schmidt. Overall, this is an interesting and engaging dissection of a very contentious election.
The War Room (1993)
Do you prefer a bit of political reality to political fiction? In that case, you’ll love The War Room, a documentary about Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.
Regardless of your voting record, this deep dive into Clinton’s campaign is immersive and intense. And despite Bill Clinton being the main draw, James Carville and George Stephanopoulos end up stealing the show in the best possible way.