50 best movies about politics

Written by:
September 10, 2020
DreamWorks

50 best movies about politics

Movies about politics can provide perspective, history, comic relief, and uncanny insight as life sometimes imitates art. As America tumbles through this stormy and unprecedented election year, Stacker took a look at the 50 best films made about politics.

Some offer comfort and wisdom that heroes can prevail, like “Hotel Rwanda” or stirring portrayals of “Lincoln,” “Gandhi,” and the swashbuckling “Lawrence of Arabia.” Others are thrillers that tell of realistic mysteries and conspiracies, like “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” that keep audiences at the edge of their seats. Many teach lessons from history, such as the generations-long conflict in Northern Ireland, the Cold War, and the historic rifts in the Middle East. “Frost/Nixon” and “All the President’s Men” are reminders of corruption in the White House that led to a president’s downfall.

William Shakespeare provided tragedies and historic dramas that ring true centuries later, while more contemporary tales like “Network” have become cultural touchstones, with dialogue that has joined the political lexicon. Some are chilling, painting pictures of worlds people hope never to see or nightmarish dystopias set in futuristic, lawless worlds. Some threaten to break hearts with stories of brutality, pain, and compassion. But others make audiences laugh at absurdity, like the twisted comedies “Death of Stalin” and “Dr. Strangelove,” the cheery satire of “Being There,” or the Marx Brothers’ timeless silliness in “Duck Soup.”

Nearly all of the best took home armfuls of Oscars and other prestigious honors.

Stacker compiled data on all movies about politics to rank them, using a weighted index split evenly between Aug. 26 IMDb and Metacritic scores. To qualify, the film had to have an explicitly political premise, a Metascore, and at least 5,000 IMDb votes. Ties were broken by Metascore, and further ties were broken by IMDb user rating. Every film on the list has been considered according to the cinematic history and development of political films.

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1 / 50
Focus Features

#50. The Constant Gardener (2005)

- Director: Fernando Meirelles
- Stacker score: 81
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 129 minutes

“The Constant Gardener,” about the murder of a British diplomat’s wife in Kenya, was based on a novel by John le Carre. It delves into conspiracies and corruption by multinational corporations and governments. Actress Rachel Weisz won an Academy Award, a Golden Globes award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance.

2 / 50
Sixteen Films

#49. The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)

- Director: Ken Loach
- Stacker score: 82
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 127 minutes

“The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” about two brothers fighting in the Irish War for Independence, earned director Ken Loach the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006. In the film, the director’s biggest commercial success, two brothers join the Irish Republican Army after a friend is killed by the British, but are driven apart as the violence worsens.

3 / 50
Universal Pictures

#48. Frost/Nixon (2008)

- Director: Ron Howard
- Stacker score: 82
- Metascore: 80
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 122 minutes

“Frost/Nixon” stars Frank Langella and Michael Sheen in a dramatization of interviews with the former president three years after he left office during the Watergate scandal. Nixon is looking to reshape his legacy, and Frost is trying to overcome doubts that he is up to the task of such a high profile confrontation.

4 / 50
DreamWorks

#47. Bridge of Spies (2015)

- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Stacker score: 82
- Metascore: 81
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 142 minutes

Capturing the dark tensions of the Cold War, “Bridge of Spies” is based on the true story of a 1962 prisoner exchange with the U.S.S.R. to bring home American pilot Francis Gary Powers, who had been shot down over the Soviet Union two years earlier. It was drawn from the memoir of lawyer James Donovan, played by Tom Hanks, whose client, a Soviet spy played by Mark Rylance, was being sent home in return. Rylance, a heralded British stage actor, won an Oscar for best supporting actor.

5 / 50
BBC Films

#46. In the Loop (2009)

- Director: Armando Iannucci
- Stacker score: 82
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 106 minutes

The political satire “In the Loop” takes a darkly comical look at government missteps, damage control, scheming functionaries, and the media amid the threat of war. It’s drawn from the relations between Britain and the United States before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Among its actors was the late James Gandolfini, star of the hit television series “The Sopranos.”

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6 / 50
Pathe UK

#45. Pride (2014)

- Director: Matthew Warchus
- Stacker score: 82
- Metascore: 79
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 119 minutes

“Pride” tells the story of a group of gay and lesbian activists from London who pitch in to help striking miners in South Wales in 1984, and the friendships that emerged in the process. It is based on a true story, and several of the real-life characters were involved in the making and promotion of the film. Writer Stephen Beresford and producer David Livingstone won a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer.

7 / 50
China Star Entertainment

#44. Election 2 (2006)

- Director: Johnnie To
- Stacker score: 82
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 93 minutes

Set in the gangster underworld of Hong Kong, action film “Election 2” is the saga of a bloody fight for power as the head of a crime syndicate faces a lower-ranking challenger. It features violent scenes of torture, bludgeoning, and rabid dog attacks. It follows the first “Election” film and was also released under the title “Triad Election.”

8 / 50
Lionsgate

#43. Sicario (2015)

- Director: Denis Villeneuve
- Stacker score: 82
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 121 minutes

The U.S.-Mexico border provides the setting for “Sicario,” a thriller about corruption, duplicity, and ethics of the U.S.-led war on drugs. Emily Blunt plays an FBI agent, joined in battle by Josh Brolin, playing a government task force officer, and Benicio del Toro as a former cartel member with a dangerous past. It was praised for its cinematography of the desert landscape, dramatic aerials, and tense action scenes inside a smuggling tunnel.

9 / 50
Les Films de Pierre

#42. BPM (Beats Per Minute) (2017)

- Director: Robin Campillo
- Stacker score: 82
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 143 minutes

AIDS activists in Paris in the 1990s are the focus of “BPM (Beats Per Minute).” The kinetic drama portrays their passions, struggles, and conflicts as they face the growing health crisis and try to spur the government and pharmaceutical companies into action. It won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, but is considered to have been snubbed by the Oscars.

10 / 50
Renaissance Films

#41. Henry V (1989)

- Director: Kenneth Branagh
- Stacker score: 82
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 137 minutes

Kenneth Branagh directed and starred in this film version of William Shakespeare’s battle-filled “Henry V.” The historical drama follows the newly crowned monarch as he makes plans to invade France, beset by betrayals, treachery, and power struggles. It features Derek Jacobi, Emma Thompson, Ian Holm, Judi Dench, and Christian Bale.

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11 / 50
Two Cities Films

#40. Hamlet (1948)

- Director: Laurence Olivier
- Stacker score: 82
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 154 minutes

This version of Shakepeare’s drama, starring Laurence Olivier, is the one by which all others are measured many decades later. “Hamlet” won four Academy Awards, including best picture and best actor. Olivier focused on a psychological interpretation of the play, like Hamlet’s Oedipus complex, and his decision to cut out large sections of the play rankled some. It uses long, slow shots and shadowy, misty camerawork that underscores Hamlet’s indecision and isolation.

12 / 50
DreamWorks

#39. Lincoln (2012)

- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Stacker score: 83
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 150 minutes

Daniel Day-Lewis won an Oscar for his lead performance in “Lincoln,” which also won an Oscar for production. The drama explored the president’s political maneuvering, oratory talents, and moral courage as he tried to build support for a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery and unite a divided country against the backdrop of Civil War carnage.

13 / 50
Focus Features

#38. Milk (2008)

- Director: Gus Van Sant
- Stacker score: 83
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 128 minutes

Gus Van Sant’s film “Milk” follows Harvey Milk as he grows into his historic role as the first openly gay man elected to public office in the country. Sean Penn’s character moves to San Francisco, where he is elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1977 and becomes a voice for gay rights. Penn won an Academy Award for best actor, and writer Dustin Lance Black won for best writing of an original screenplay.

14 / 50
International Film Investors

#37. Gandhi (1982)

- Director: Richard Attenborough
- Stacker score: 83
- Metascore: 79
- IMDb user rating: 8
- Runtime: 191 minutes

“Gandhi” won eight Academy Awards, including best picture, best director, and best actor, which went to Ben Kingsley for his portrayal of the Indian leader. The film is a lengthy biopic of Mahatma Gandhi’s life as he gives up his possessions, cultivates nonviolent resistance, and leads the cause of Indian independence. In making the film, a crowd of a half million people was needed for its funeral scene, so the filmmakers donated to various charities in exchange for help getting people to appear. The film had more than 430 speaking parts and nearly 30,000 paid extras.

15 / 50
The State Hermitage Museum

#36. Russian Ark (2002)

- Director: Aleksandr Sokurov
- Stacker score: 83
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 99 minutes

“Russian Ark” is an experimental political fantasy about a 19th-century aristocrat who travels through time, arriving at historical events and meeting historical figures portrayed in the Winter Palace of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. The film was shot in one day in a single continuous shot, using hundreds of actors throughout almost three-quarters of a mile of the Hermitage’s courtyards and corridors.

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16 / 50
Quad Productions

#35. The Death of Stalin (2017)

- Director: Armando Iannucci
- Stacker score: 83
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Runtime: 107 minutes

The Death of Stalin” is a black comedy about the machinations of the Soviet leader’s coterie of advisors and Central Committee members as he is dying. They jockey for power and position, hide from responsibility and making decisions, and busily plot against one another. Risque and darkly funny, it features Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev, Jeffrey Tambor, Jason Isaacs, and Rupert Friend.

17 / 50
United Artists

#34. Hotel Rwanda (2004)

- Director: Terry George
- Stacker score: 83
- Metascore: 79
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 121 minutes

Don Cheadle starred as the manager in “Hotel Rwanda,” a Hutu who sheltered and protected some 1,200 Tutsi and Hutu people during the bloody genocide of a million people in 1994. The film was based on the true story of Paul Rusesabagina, who recently was detained by Rwandan authorities on charges of terrorism, arson, and murder. He has become a critic of the Rwandan government, which has accused him of supporting opposition rebels.

18 / 50
Zoetrope Studios

#33. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)

- Director: Paul Schrader
- Stacker score: 84
- Metascore: 81
- IMDb user rating: 8
- Runtime: 120 minutes

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters” portrays the life, works, and final day of Japanese playwright and author Yukio Mishima, who publicly killed himself by the rite of seppuku, or disembowelment, and had himself decapitated by a follower. The film delves into his torments, his intensity, and his fanatical belief in waging a mutiny to overthrow democracy and restore Japan’s emperor to power. It features a highly regarded score by composer Philip Glass.

19 / 50
Columbia Pictures

#32. American Hustle (2013)

- Director: David O. Russell
- Stacker score: 84
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Runtime: 138 minutes

“American Hustle,” a political crime caper, is based on the true story of Abscam, an FBI sting staged in the late 1970s. In the scheme, FBI agents impersonated Arab sheikhs seeking citizenship, building permits, casino licenses, and other favors, offering cash to politicians who would help. The sting led to several convictions, including a U.S. senator, six members of the House, the mayor of Camden, New Jersey, and city council members in Philadelphia. Nominated for 10 Oscars, “American Hustle” starred Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, and Jeremy Renner. When U.S. public sentiment later changed, Abscam came to be viewed as an expensive entrapment plot, and the U.S. Attorney General issued guidelines limiting undercover operations aimed at elected officials.

20 / 50
Compulsion Inc.

#31. Traffic (2000)

- Director: Steven Soderbergh
- Stacker score: 84
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 147 minutes

Traffic” is set in the thick of America’s war on drugs, weaving together stories of cartels, smuggling, politics, addiction, law enforcement, and corruption. It earned four Academy Awards, including best director for Steven Soderbergh and best supporting actor for Benicio Del Toro. The film was based on an award-winning European miniseries from 1989.

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21 / 50
Embassy International Pictures

#30. Brazil (1985)

- Director: Terry Gilliam
- Stacker score: 85
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Runtime: 132 minutes

The futuristic story of “Brazil” centers on a technocrat trying to escape a dystopian, nightmarish tangle of bureaucracy and technology. Disturbing and absurd, the film was directed by Terry Gilliam, a former member of the comic troupe Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Gilliam was born in the United States and renounced his U.S. citizenship for British in 2006.

22 / 50
BSB

#29. Being There (1979)

- Director: Hal Ashby
- Stacker score: 85
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 8
- Runtime: 130 minutes

In the satirical “Being There,” Peter Sellers plays a gardener with a simple naivete who is mistaken for a political sage and rises to Washington’s highest echelons. With gentle humor, the film makes fun of politics, the media, and public gullibility. The film earned a best supporting actor Oscar for Melvyn Douglas.

23 / 50
Anka Film

#28. The Edge of Heaven (2007)

- Director: Fatih Akin
- Stacker score: 85
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 122 minutes

The German film “The Edge of Heaven” looks at a host of political, cultural, and social issues as it interweaves the stories of three families in Germany and Turkey. It tackles thorny questions of immigration, class, religion, activism, radicalism, and idealism. Released in Germany with the title “Auf der anderen Seite” or “On the Other Side,” it was awarded for best screenplay at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.

24 / 50
Universal Pictures

#27. Children of Men (2006)

- Director: Alfonso Cuarón
- Stacker score: 85
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Runtime: 102 minutes

Children of Men” is a bleak science-fiction thriller set in a squalid, collapsing world besieged by xenophobia, hatred, terror, and chaos in which women can no longer bear children. The movie was celebrated for its long, uninterrupted action shots, and it won British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards for cinematography and production design.

25 / 50
Warner Bros.

#26. Argo (2012)

- Director: Ben Affleck
- Stacker score: 85
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 120 minutes

“Argo” is a tense thriller about the real-life rescue of six Americans who were trapped in Iran and hiding at the residence of the Canadian ambassador during the 1979 hostage crisis. Led by a CIA operative played by Ben Affleck, the risky plan called for them to escape while posing as a Canadian film crew. “Argo” gets a boost from actors John Goodman and Alan Arkin as Hollywood characters who help produce the phony movie and Bryan Cranston as Affleck’s boss.

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26 / 50
micro_scope

#25. Incendies (2010)

- Director: Denis Villeneuve
- Stacker score: 85
- Metascore: 80
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Runtime: 131 minutes

Shot in Jordan, “Incendies” is the story of adult twins, a brother and sister, who travel to the Middle East to fulfill their mother’s dying wishes and find family they never knew. On their journey, they learn of the politics, war, and horrors that shaped their mother’s life. “Incendies” is a Canadian movie, based on a stage play, with dialogue in French and Arabic, and it was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign language film.

27 / 50
Rock Film Studio

#24. The Fool (2014)

- Director: Yuriy Bykov
- Stacker score: 85
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 8
- Runtime: 116 minutes

In the Russian drama “The Fool,” a morally upright plumber does battle with an army of corrupt and greedy bureaucrats. At stake are the lives of hundreds of residents living in a building poised to collapse. Underscoring the dismal saga, the movie is set entirely at night.

28 / 50
MGM

#23. Network (1976)

- Director: Sidney Lumet
- Stacker score: 85
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 121 minutes

In “Network,” a scathing takedown of political culture and the news media, television anchorman Howard Beale, played by Peter Finch, comes unraveled as his network is taken over by a multinational conglomerate. His memorable character gave the world the now oft-quoted line: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.” More than four decades on, “Network” gets kudos for its insight into political demagoguery, corporate power, and the integrity of journalism. It won four Oscars—best screenplay for Paddy Chayefsky, best supporting actress for Beatrice Straight, best actress for Faye Dunaway, and best actor for Finch, who died before the awards ceremony was held.

29 / 50
Constantin Film

#22. Downfall (2004)

- Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
- Stacker score: 85
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Runtime: 156 minutes

“Downfall,” released in German as “Der Untergang,” depicts the last days in the life of Adolf Hitler as the Third Reich collapses in defeat in 1945. It’s set in Berlin in Hitler’s labyrinth bunker underground and in the fighting in the streets above. The movie is based in part on a memoir by Hitler’s personal secretary Traudl Junge, who was with Hitler in his final days. Excerpts of interviews with Junge, who was jailed after the war, are included in the film.

30 / 50
Wildwood Enterprises

#21. All the President’s Men (1976)

- Director: Alan J. Pakula
- Stacker score: 85
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Runtime: 138 minutes

Based on the true story of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, “All the President’s Men” recounts the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon in 1974. The reporters cover a seemingly minor break-in at the Democratic Party’s national headquarters and, suspicions aroused, “follow the money” under the guidance of the mysterious source Deep Throat and the courageous wisdom of Post editor Ben Bradlee. It earned four Oscars, including best supporting actor for Jason Robards, who played Bradlee, and best screenplay for William Goldman.

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31 / 50
Pathé Pictures International

#20. The Queen (2006)

- Director: Stephen Frears
- Stacker score: 85
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 103 minutes

The Queen” provides a fictionalized glimpse of royal life when Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car accident in 1997. It delves into the emotional and political response of the Queen, played by Helen Mirren, and others in the royal family as they struggle with how to respond to the public’s deep mourning. Mirren won the Oscar for best actress.

32 / 50
Kurosawa Production Co.

#19. Kagemusha (1980)

- Director: Akira Kurosawa
- Stacker score: 85
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 8
- Runtime: 162 minutes

The drama “Kagemusha,” set in feudal Japan, portrays a thief who, because of his appearance, is pressed into service as a double for a slain warlord. The film is filled with epic battles and political intrigue. Hollywood’s George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola helped Kurosawa get financing when he ran into budget trouble. The film took nine months to shoot, with 200 specially trained horses shipped to Japan from the United States and 5,000 extras used in its battle scene finale.

33 / 50
Hell's Kitchen Films

#18. In the Name of the Father (1993)

- Director: Jim Sheridan
- Stacker score: 86
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 133 minutes

Based on a true story, “In the Name of the Father” recounts the case of the Guildford Four—four men accused of being members of the provisional IRA and bombing a London pub in 1974, killing several people. They were convicted and sentenced to life in prison amid doubts over their guilt. The film draws from the memoir of one of the men, Gerry Conlon, played by Daniel Day-Lewis.

34 / 50
Bórd Scannán na hÉireann

#17. Bloody Sunday (2002)

- Director: Paul Greengrass
- Stacker score: 86
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 107 minutes

Bloody Sunday” tells the story of the fatal shooting of 13 unarmed civilians during a demonstration in Northern Ireland in 1972. Based on true events, it’s filmed like a documentary and tensions build as marchers face off with uneasy British soldiers. Actor James Nesbitt and director Paul Greengrass were winners at the British Independent Film Awards. The film credits list the names of those killed, and U2’s song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” plays over a darkened screen when the credits finish.

35 / 50
Fox Searchlight Pictures

#16. The Favourite (2018)

- Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
- Stacker score: 86
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 119 minutes

In “The Favourite,” actress Olivia Colman portrays a sickly, petulant Queen Anne playing her closest confidants against one another. While England is at war with France, life in the palace is a nest of treachery, political shenanigans, and debauchery. Colman scooped up an Oscar, Golden Globes award, and British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for her performance.

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36 / 50
Bryna Productions

#15. Spartacus (1960)

- Director: Stanley Kubrick
- Stacker score: 86
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Runtime: 197 minutes

The epic film “Spartacus” recounts a slave revolt led by Spartacus, played by Kirk Douglas, against the Roman Empire. The cast included such greats as Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton, and Peter Ustinov who won an Oscar for best supporting actor. It also won a Golden Globes award for best motion picture—drama.

37 / 50
Romaine Film Corporation

#14. To Be or Not to Be (1942)

- Director: Ernst Lubitsch
- Stacker score: 88
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Runtime: 99 minutes

The satirical “To Be or Not to Be” revolves around a Polish theater troupe that is drawn into spying during the Nazi occupation. Despite its dark setting, the film is considered a comic masterpiece. It starred Jack Benny and Carole Lombard, who was killed in a plane crash a month before its release.

38 / 50
See-Saw Films

#13. The King’s Speech (2010)

- Director: Tom Hooper
- Stacker score: 88
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 8
- Runtime: 118 minutes

The King’s Speech” is based on the true story of Britain’s King George VI, Queen Elizabeth II’s father, as he struggled to overcome a stutter and secure his public image as the country stood at the brink of war. He was helped by speech therapist Lionel Logue, whose diary about working with the king was used in making the film. The monarch was played by Colin Firth, who won an Oscar for his lead performance. The film also won Oscars for best picture, best director, and best original screenplay.

39 / 50
Columbia Pictures

#12. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

- Director: Kathryn Bigelow
- Stacker score: 88
- Metascore: 95
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 157 minutes

Zero Dark Thirty” is a thriller based on the U.S. hunt for Osama bin Laden and depicted the controversial use of torture in prisoner interrogation. The star of the movie is Jessica Chastain, who played a CIA counterterrorism officer and won a Golden Globes award.

40 / 50
2.4.7. Films

#11. Persepolis (2007)

- Directors: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 8
- Runtime: 96 minutes

Based on a graphic novel, “Persepolis” is an animated film about an Iranian girl named Marjane during the Islamic Revolution in the 1970s. She is sent away for her protection from the rise in fundamental extremism, but returns several years later. Voices are provided by Chiara Mastroianni as Marjane, Catherine Deneuve as her mother—and Mastroianni’s real-life mother, Sean Penn as her father, and Gena Rowlands as her grandmother.

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41 / 50
Paramount Pictures

#10. Duck Soup (1933)

- Director: Leo McCarey
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 69 minutes

Duck Soup” is a Marx Brothers classic featuring Groucho as Rufus T. Firefly, the ruler of Fredonia; Zeppo as his secretary; and Harpo and Chico as enemy spies for a neighboring country. The movie with its suggestive insults and double entendres was made just before the Hays Code, which set “moral standards” for movies, was fully enforced in Hollywood.

42 / 50
Wiedemann & Berg Filmproduktion

#9. The Lives of Others (2006)

- Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Runtime: 137 minutes

Set in Berlin in 1984, “The Lives of Others” is a haunting drama about an East German intelligence officer whose job it is to spy on a successful playwright. As the agent listens in on the intimate details of the playwright’s life, he comes to question the decency, morality, and humanity of his job. The film won an Oscar for best foreign language film.

43 / 50
Tribeca Productions

#8. The Irishman (2019)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Runtime: 209 minutes

In Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” an aged hitman played by Robert De Niro reflects on his life and his involvement with the disappearance of Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa. It also stars mobster film veterans Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel. Financed by Netflix, the film is three-and-a-half hours long.

44 / 50
M.C. Productions

#7. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

- Director: John Frankenheimer
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Runtime: 126 minutes

“The Manchurian Candidate” is a Cold War thriller about a prisoner of war who is brainwashed as part of a Communist conspiracy against the United States to become a political assassin. It starred Laurence Harvey, Angela Lansbury, and Frank Sinatra, who helped finance the production. Sinatra got President John F. Kennedy to support the making of the film when executives at United Artists balked at the subject matter.

45 / 50
Casbah Film

#6. The Battle of Algiers (1966)

- Director: Gillo Pontecorvo
- Stacker score: 92
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 121 minutes

The Battle of Algiers” recreates scenes from the Algerian struggle for independence from France in the 1950s. A classic of cinema verite, it was shot in black-and-white documentary style, unflinchingly portraying urban warfare, bomb blasts, and rioting mobs.

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46 / 50
Mars Film

#5. The Conformist (1970)

- Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
- Stacker score: 94
- Metascore: 100
- IMDb user rating: 8
- Runtime: 113 minutes

The Conformist” follows a member of an Italian fascist organization ordered to assassinate a political dissident who is his former university professor. The dark, shady imagery and eerily confining sets of the film, considered a political masterpiece, provide a backdrop to the assassin on his way to fulfilling his duty.

47 / 50
Columbia Pictures

#4. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

- Director: Stanley Kubrick
- Stacker score: 94
- Metascore: 97
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Runtime: 95 minutes

“Dr. Strangelove” is a black comedy about a wildly unhinged general threatening to launch a nuclear bomb attack against the Soviet Union, convinced that the Communists have poisoned the American water supply with fluoride. Peter Sellars plays three roles with panache in the Cold War satire, including U.S. President Merkin Muffley and the heavily accented Dr. Strangelove, whose gloved arm uncontrollably flies into Nazi salutes.

48 / 50
Horizon Pictures (II)

#3. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

- Director: David Lean
- Stacker score: 95
- Metascore: 100
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Runtime: 228 minutes

The epic “Lawrence of Arabia” is based on the story of T.E. Lawrence, an English officer who banded together Arab tribes in World War I in Britain’s battles against the Turks. Played by Peter O’Toole, Lawrence led surprise raids, perilous desert journeys, and daring rescues. It took home seven Oscars, including best picture, best director, and best color cinematography.

49 / 50
RKO Radio Pictures

#2. Citizen Kane (1941)

- Director: Orson Welles
- Stacker score: 95
- Metascore: 100
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Runtime: 119 minutes

Orson Welles was director, producer, and star of “Citizen Kane,” the story of an enigmatic newspaper tycoon. It follows the efforts of a reporter trying to decipher why the once powerful Charles Foster Kane died alone and the meaning of his last word, “Rosebud.” Claiming it constituted defamation, newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst tried to stop the release of the film and would not allow it to be advertised in his newspapers.

50 / 50
Universal Pictures

#1. Schindler’s List (1993)

- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Stacker score: 95
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Runtime: 195 minutes

“Schindler’s List” is a powerful, moving film based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who initially used Jews in Krakow’s ghetto as free labor for his factory. As he awakens to the realization that they would otherwise be sent to death camps, he schemes to get more workers for his munitions factory. By the war’s end, it is estimated that he saved the lives of 1,100 people, several of whom appeared in the final scene of the heart-wrenching film at the grave of the real-life Schindler in Jerusalem. “Schindler’s List,” which stars Liam Neeson, won seven Oscars, including best picture, best director, best cinematography, and best film editing.

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