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50 best movies about politics

  • 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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  • #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.

  • #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.

  • #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.

  • #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.

  • #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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  • #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.

  • #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.”

  • #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.

  • #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.

  • #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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