The List: Top 10 movies about politics

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From the October 18, 2012 edition

When you turn on the TV right now, you’re bombarded with political ads, so turn off the TV and watch these … movies about politics! Why not?

10. “Bulworth”

“Bulworth” is a bit unbelievable as a premise — Warren Beatty’s Sen. Jay Bulworth, in the midst of a re-election campaign, becomes suicidal and hires assassins to kill himself — but produces a good amount of humor from its strong cast and satirizing the political machine.

9. “The Contender”

This political drama, about a fictional United States President (Jeff Bridges) appointing the first women senator (Joan Allen) to vice president, excellently portrays the dirty play side of political nominations and posits a number of questions about boundaries of morality. Plus, any movie that makes the Dude president is OK in our book.

8. “Wag the Dog”

Barry Levinson’s biting satire starred Robert DeNiro as a D.C. spin doctor who invented an imaginary war to distract a complacent media … not that that would ever happen!

7. “Frost/Nixon”

Based on the Peter Morgan play, director Ron Howard wonderfully recreates the landmark 1977 television interviews with excellent performances by Michael Sheen as David Frost and Frank Langella as former president Richard Nixon.

6. “Bob Roberts”

Noted Hollywood liberal Tim Robbins didn’t pull punches in this mockumentary about a right-wing businessman/folk singer who runs for office. We loved all the nods to Bob Dylan, including the song “Times Are Changin’ Back.”

5. “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”

This classic is rife with political corruption, but if only more politicians acted like James Stewart’s Mr. Smith maybe we’d all have more faith in the political system.

4. “In the Loop”

What, you may ask, could be funny about international political machinations during the run-up to the Iraq war? Plenty, it turns out. We especially love Malcolm Tucker turning profanity into an art form. He ends telephone conversations with “F---ity-bye!”

3. “Milk”/”The Life & Times of Harvey Milk”

Sean Penn’s amazing portrayal of the first openly gay elected official in California won him an Oscar in Gus Van Sant’s biopic “Milk.” But the documentary about Milk’s life and violent death is even more enthralling.

2. “All the President’s Men”

Yeah, maybe we’re a little biased because this film’s subjects, Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman), were journalists. But you can’t deny this is a great biopic about the two men who brought Nixon’s Watergates scandal to public light.

1. “Election”

Alexander Payne’s 1999 comedy was a pitch-perfect dissection of both suburban high school life and the absurdity of our political process. The over-achieving Tracy Flick may be Reese Witherspoon’s best role ever. Pick Flick!