The midterms are right around the corner — the most important election of our time until the next one — and everyone’s political juices are flowing.
Until the ultimate satisfaction (or disappointment) of Nov. 8 arrives, Newsmax thought it might be fun to compile a list of the best political films in history — based on actual events and people.
This is our list of the 10 best, arranged in alphabetical order.
"All the Way" (2016 TV Movie)
This was an HBO film that chronicled Lyndon Johnson’s (Bryan Cranston) first year in the White House following the assassination of his predecessor, John F. Kennedy.
He’s committed to getting Kennedy’s sweeping Civil Rights Act passed, despite mounting opposition, primarily from members of his own party.
Wrote Hal Baedeker for the Orlando Sentinel, "Jay Roach, who directed Cranston in Trumbo, never lets the fast-moving 'All the Way' seem like a play put on film. He draws uniformly fine performances and showcases his hard-working star. The results: Cranston wins again."
"Charlie Wilson’s War" (2007)
In the 1980s socialite Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts) convinced her friend and hard drinking, cocaine-snorting playboy Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) to help the Afghan people in their struggles again the Soviet invasion. The pair team up with a CIA agent to raise funding for covert operations to arm the Afghan freedom fighters to eventually expel the Soviet invaders.
"You might think Tom Hanks is miscast as the lovable sinner," wrote legendary film critic Roger Ebert. “But Hanks brings something unique to the role: He plays a man spinning his wheels, bored with the girls and parties, looking for something to bring meaning to his slog through the federal bureaucracy.”
This takes place in the midst of the American Civil War, where Lincoln’s (Daniel Day-Lewis) goal is two-fold: bring the war to a close and permanently end the scourge of slavery through the 13th Amendment, which the Senate passed in 1864, the House approved in 1865, and was ratified by the states in 1865.
"Lincoln is a triumph," wrote Sara Michelle Fetters for Moviefreak. "Spielberg rises once again to heights few other filmmakers can match, his drama a rousing historical document everyone involved with its production should be proud of. I loved it."
This tells the story of Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), who, in 1977, became the first openly-gay man to win an election of note. It covers his life from 1972 when her and his partner move from New York City to San Francisco and open a camera shop. It describes his election on the city’s Board of Supervisors and his assassination by former supervisor Dan White.
Gone With The Twin reviewer Mike Massie called "Milk" "A commanding and persuasive biopic that is easily the best thing to come from the hit-or-miss director in a very long time."
This film examines the complexities of the personal and professional life of everyone’s favorite political villain: President Richard M. Nixon (Anthony Hopkins). It touches upon his youth, college years, and political wins and losses. After Nixon finally reaches the pinnacle of his career, he’s brought down by the infamous Watergate scandal.
Wrote Nick Schager for Lessons of Darkness, “The filmmaker's deftness at evoking theme and sentiment through editorial montages within individual dramatic scenes reaches an apotheosis here.”
"Recount" (2008 TV Movie)
This one depicts the fiasco of the 2000 presidential election in which Democrat Al Gore initially conceded to George W. Bush, but then recanted when he learned of irregularities in Florida’s count. For those who remember, this was the year of the “hanging chads” in the IBM cards that were then used to cast ballots. What resulted was a 36-day delay in results.
It’s worthy to note that Florida learned from that debacle, and was able to announce an accurate count in the 2020 election within hours of polls closing.
Wrote Barrie Hardymon, reviewing for NPR, “It’s so suspenseful that it's easy to forget that you already know how it ends.”
Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law on June 2, 1964 (see "All the Way" above). A year later segregation was still the norm in many areas — especially in southern states. This film depicts the fight for suffrage in Selma, Alabama, waged by civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo). It depicts his famous march from Selma to Montgomery. and culminates in Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Wrote Roxana Hadadi for Chesapeake Family Magazine, "Selma is an always-gripping, often-bruising film, with fantastic performances and a solidly written script that contextualizes King's work in an effectively impactful way."
"Thirteen Days" (2000)
John F. Kennedy’s brief, 1,000-day presidency was marked by two events that each involved Cuba: the failure at the Bay of Pigs, and his triumph with the Cuban Missile Crisis. "Thirteen Days" depicts the latter event.
During those suspense-filled days the entire world held its breath wondering if the world’s great superpowers would engage in nuclear war as Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood) and the Soviet Union’s Nikita Khrushchev played diplomatic 3D chess.
Decent Films reviewer Steven Greydanus wrote "A fitting dramatic tribute to the deadly brinksmanship that pulled us back from the edge during the most volatile two weeks of the Cold War."
"The War Room" (1993)
Here’s a documentary depicting the 1992 election of the first president of the rock ’n’ roll generation: Bill Clinton. That election made Republican George H.W. Bush a one-term president, due primarily to the boost Clinton received from third-party candidate Ross Perot, who took nearly 20 million votes away from Bush.
1992 was also the year in presidential politics that made strategists George Stephanopoulos and James Carville household names.
Vox reviewer Alissa Wilkinson wrote, "The film offers an inside look at a campaign through the eyes of those who lived it with the intimacy that we've come to expect from our campaign documentaries."
Anthony Weiner had it made. He was a Democratic New York congressman, and his wife, Huma Abedin, was a senior aide to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It all came crashing down when some salacious photographs appeared on his Twitter account, forcing his resignation.
"Weiner' is a documentary film of what was to have been his comeback — his run for mayor of New York City. But that one failed also, by way of yet another sex scandal.
Wrote Soraya Nadia McDonald for Andscape," It's a fabulously entertaining view from inside a political campaign, giving us a firsthand experience of all the weird, Good Wife-style maneuvering that takes place."
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to Newsmax. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter. Read Michael Dorstewitz's Reports — More Here.
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