Some of the hardest-to-watch films have to do with either national or foreign politics. It’s not that their issue isn’t important or that we, as citizens of a major global player, shouldn’t be careful. It’s just that movies dealing with politics can wear you down in so many ways including but not limited to: emotionally, psychologically, socially and physically. Life is usually tough enough to deal with, and the last thing we need is to throw some scathing political satire or drama at it.
But if you’re a fan of really strong cinema, your bane as a dedicated film buff is trying to understand the intricate beauty and grace of a great political film. But what about the aspiring film fan who isn’t sure where to start when it comes to watching political movies? Is there a good starting point? Is there a definitive list?
If you’re a relative newbie to political films, here are seven classic films that will give you at least some level of “street cred” with more established film fans:
The Manchurian Candidate (original 1962 version) – Sleeper Agents, Brainwashing, the Korean War, the Cold War, McCarthyism and Assassination. This film has it all, including an excellent cast. This film also features an essential performance by Angela Lansbury.
All the President’s men – Although this film was Oscar material through and through, the twisted story of the Watergate scandal presented in real-time within the pages of The Washington Post was even more addicting.
Bulworth – This innovative film, released two decades ago, tells the story of a politician who is now free from the clutches of lobbyists to speak his mind. At a time when so many believe they will get the “right deal” from a man of the people and everything they do will be cheated, this film deserves a repeat.
choice – We all know high school can be brutal, but who knew high school politics could be so ruthless? A devilishly witty blend of dark humor, drama and heart make this a unique choice for a political film. Even if you are just looking for a killer movie, go for this one. It rocks.
David – Can the American people be fooled into not realizing that an imposter is posing as the President? This film explores that possibility and what it would be like if a normal guy actually became president. The operative word is “normal”.
milk – The rage of the 1970s, high tension around LGBTQ rights and everyone refusing to back down. This is the story of one of our country’s most interesting political figures and the horrific chain of events surrounding his death.
dr Strangelove or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the bombshell – Not much to say here except that you have to see this movie. It’s one of the best ever made and its sheer genius is breathtaking.
Hopefully you’ll find that these movies are a cross section of the kind of movies you should watch if you’re into a specific subject. If you only watched serious thrillers or dramas you would be toasted. This list will give you some light-heartedness and, dare we say, comedy. Movies are meant to be a fun way to forget about life for a while. Right now, our political environment is a little choppy, and it can be a little too comfortable to sugarcoat politically heavy material. Unfortunately, you’d be missing out on some of the great cinematic gems of the last six decades.