Written by Kirk BairdThe 2012 presidential election is Tuesday. To get in the spirit of democracy in action, here are a just few politically themed movies.
The Candidate (1972): A young, inexperienced candidate for senator (Robert Redford in a brilliant performance) learns the inside-outs of big-stage politics, and the price it takes to win.
Election (1999): Reese Witherspoon is the annoying high school overachiever determined to be class president. Matthew Broderick is the high school history teacher determined to stop her. Alexander Payne’s debut comedy is dark and spot-on.
All the President’s Men (1976): When celebrating the election of a president, here’s a thrilling account of what brought one down. Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Woodward and Bernstein helped inspire a new generation of journalists.
Bulworth (1998): Warren Beatty plays liberal politician Jay Bulworth whose ideals of making a difference were long-ago trounced by the realities of Washington. But then something snaps in his soul, and Bulworth fights back against the system.
Primary Colors (1998): Don’t kid yourself: John Travolta is Clinton in this thinly disguised behind-the-scenes look at a presidential campaign race. As an addendum, check out the fascinating documentary The War Room (1993), a real-life account of Clinton’s 1992 campaign and those who ran it.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939): Jimmy Stewart is the U.S. senator everyone wishes they had in Frank Capra’s stirring classic of an incorruptible new voice in D.C.
The Ides of March (2011): George Clooney directed, cowrote, and costars in this campaign thriller about a progressive presidential candidate and his young campaign press secretary (Ryan Gosling), who must inevitably choose between his boss and his soul.