Good Films about Politics
June 4, 2013 6:05 PM   Subscribe

What are some good films that are about politics or democracy?

My apologies if I've missed previous questions about this topic. I'm thinking films that have a similar sense to Lincoln, or to TV shows like The West Wing or House of Cards. Films that focus on history and procedure rather than personal dramas of the characters are preferable. Either fictional or documentary films are fine.
posted by lookoutbelow to Media & Arts (32 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Mr. Smith goes to Washington.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:07 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you want a deeply cynical movie about political procedure, check out In The Loop.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:08 PM on June 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

The Manchurian Candidate
The Bad Sleep Well
The Battle of Algiers
Land And Freedom
The Wind That Shakes The Barley

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:10 PM on June 4, 2013

Thirteen Days.
posted by ceribus peribus at 6:14 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Primary Colors.
If you liked House of Cards, you should definitely check out the British original as well. It's on Netflix streaming.
posted by duffell at 6:15 PM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Two mocumentaries about presidential campaigns that I really like are Bob Roberts, and Robert Altman's Tanner '88. Also, Bulworth.
posted by janey47 at 6:16 PM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

And one of the best political documentaries ever is War Room, about Clinton's first csmpaign. As a documentary, it's damn near perfect.
posted by janey47 at 6:20 PM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Steven Zaillian's 'All the King's Men'.

Marshall Curry's 'Street Fight' about the Newark mayoral election Cory Booker lost to Sharpe James.
posted by eugenen at 6:21 PM on June 4, 2013

IMO the best American political documentary is an underappreciated and little-known documentary about a congressional race in Rhode Island. It's called Taking on the Kennedys. You can get it on DVD; it was on PBS a couple of years back.
posted by Mr. Justice at 6:21 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Candidate
posted by Rob Rockets at 6:26 PM on June 4, 2013

All the President's Men
posted by octothorpe at 6:27 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm a hack and I love Primary Colors and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It's been a while but I also remember enjoying Bulworth and The War Room, as well as Street Fight. Also, OMG there's a documentary about Paul Wellstone that made me sob. At the end, there's a group of kids at Wellstone Elementary singing their school song. I thought I was going to die. I also heard that The Ides of March was good.
posted by kat518 at 6:28 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Comfort and indifference (1980 Quebec Independence Referendum)
Québec: Duplessis and after (1970 Quebec Elections + Maurice Duplessis)
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 6:30 PM on June 4, 2013

Good Night and Good Luck
posted by octothorpe at 6:31 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

And Game Changer.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:32 PM on June 4, 2013

In The Loop and the TV shows "Veep" and "The Thick of It" by the same production team. They're comedies, but viciously satirical. "House of Cards" looks positively Utopian next to these.
posted by chrchr at 6:39 PM on June 4, 2013

"Dave"! (A comedy set in the White House)
posted by Sunburnt at 6:39 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed all of these films, and also enjoyed All the President's Men.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:22 PM on June 4, 2013

Homeland, which follows a CIA case office. It's a TV show, two seasons out, a third coming out this fall.
posted by SollosQ at 7:40 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:42 PM on June 4, 2013

Please Vote for Me
(The youtube video runs it twice, the second time without sound for some reason)
posted by hydrophonic at 7:45 PM on June 4, 2013

A Face in the Crowd, starring Andy Griffith in the performance of a lifetime, is considered by many the best movie about American politics ever made. It's probably also the least well-known classic film of all time, if such a category makes any sense.

Seconding *In The Loop* which is flat-out brilliant. You will be repeating its dialog for days after. Most reviewers regarded it as "too cynical" -- as if a movie about the run-up to the Iraq War could possibly ever be so. It got lost in the shuffle, but it's one of my favorite all-time movies.
posted by Philemon at 7:51 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

A Perfect Candidate, a documentary about an infamous Senate race in Virginia.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 7:52 PM on June 4, 2013

Another vote for The War Room. Loved it. Game Change was really good too.
And how has The American President not been mentioned yet?
posted by SisterHavana at 8:10 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Twelve Angry Men
posted by djb at 8:40 PM on June 4, 2013

Seconding Z and Wag the Dog, in many ways the precursor to The West Wing.

Also, Sydney Lumet is good here, and aside from the well-knowns, the under-appreciated Q&A features a towering performance by Nick Nolte.
posted by war wrath of wraith at 8:45 PM on June 4, 2013

opinion of Olive Stone may color your interest, but I thought both W and Nixon were great, unconventional, movies about politics. May also not be procedural enough.
posted by rhizome at 8:46 PM on June 4, 2013

Preminger film: Advise and Consent
posted by CincyBlues at 5:03 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

John Adams. Caveat emptor: historical inaccuracies.
posted by seemoreglass at 8:59 AM on June 5, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, all of these look excellent and I look forward to working my way through the list!
posted by lookoutbelow at 9:45 AM on June 5, 2013

Borgen is excellent (it's about the Danish political system but pretty much self-explanatory).

Also: Yes Minister and its sequel Yes Prime Minister. It's comedy (and pretty dated) but it's brilliant and has a firm foundation in actual politics.
posted by rjs at 10:46 AM on June 5, 2013

Ditto War Room, Street Fight, Dave, and Bob Roberts. I also would recommend Milk and Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story. For something not about the US, you absolutely must see Bringing Down a Dictator, a documentary about the Otpor movement and the end of the Milosevic regime in Serbia - it is so damn good.
posted by naoko at 6:48 PM on June 5, 2013

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