The Very Best Election Movies to Distract from Our Own

Nicolas Valayannopoulos-Akrivou, Arts & Entertainment Editor

If you are looking for something to celebrate or laugh at, reassured that the next four years won’t be as rocky as the last, political cinema is the place to go. In the middle of the vortex of electoral fever that has hit our country, it is a perfect time to take a look at how cinema has covered elections. From school elections to presidential candidates, Hollywood has never hidden the glamour of its biggest celebration of democracy, making a plethora of films about what is going on behind the scenes of the political process. The following are not ranked by subjective preference, but by release date—from most recent to oldest. 


The Campaign (2012)

This semi-recent political satire starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis mocks the electoral process in a way that only this hilarious duo can. The movie is a sneak peek of the behind-the-scenes election campaign in North Carolina, where backstabbing and political blunders give and take. Although, in the end, an unprecedented wave of political honesty breaks out, this seems to resemble the modern political scene (without the unprecedented wave of political honesty, of course). 


The Ides of March (2011)

In this political thriller, Ryan Gosling, the right hand man of the governor of Pennsylvania (George Clooney), has to fight with all the dirty secrets of the governor’s personal life that emerge in his fight for the presidential election. The assistant’s battle with guilty secrets, and the choice between personal ethics and his own political career reveals a lot about the way our political system works…


Bulworth (1998)

Warren Beatty as California’s senator, realizing that his constituency no longer supports his once-liberal agenda policy, decides to step out by concluding a death contract for himself. Knowing now that his days in this vain world are numbered, he no longer has any hesitation to tell the truth where he stands and where he is!


Primary Colors (1998)

In Michael Nichols’ suspenseful film, John Travolta, the southern-state governor, captivates the audience with a plethora of tricks in his election headquarters. A disguised parody of Bill Clinton’s race for the White House, Travolta does everything he can to emulate the audience of the former President, including the minor cast, which brings to mind Clinton’s wife, Hillary, as well as George Stephanopoulos. 


All the President’s Men (1976)

In the well-known All the President’s Men, politics and journalism are harmoniously intertwined, although not with the relationships that we have become accustomed to in recent years where the media is a tool at politicians’ disposal. The Washington Post’s militant reporters, Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) and Bob Woodward (Robert Redford), try to bring to light Richard Nixon’s corrupt campaign tactics in the 1972 election. 


The Candidate (1972)

The son of a former senator is being recruited as a candidate for governor of California despite the fact that he has neither such aspirations nor a strong stomach for the political scene. Regardless, he has all he needs for the political system: a beautiful face! Robert Redford looks great on election posters, and that may be enough to get him elected, with his image made to look similar to John F. Kennedy in his first election. The perfect end to the Oscar-winning script proves that a charismatic persona can go a long way in terms of a political career.


The Best Man (1964)

In the now-classic Hollywood film, Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson fight over the US presidential anointing in a film that has it all: intrigue, under-the-table deals, guilty secrets, and blackmail. The stakes? How much mud are you ready to throw in order to achieve your goals? Always up to date and modern as long as it does not take! Funnily enough, Ronald Reagan auditioned for the role of one of the two presidential candidates, but was cut off as “he did not have a presidential presence.”