The Wessex Wire

The Student News Site of West Essex Regional High School

The Wessex Wire

The Wessex Wire

Enough political news: Let’s watch some political movies

By Patrick Glenn ’16

We can talk all day about how we feel about the possibility of another Clinton in office, the delegate race in the Republican primaries and the circus that is the 2016 election … but while we wait, let’s have a look at some of our favorite politically themed films of all time. For this list, we narrowed the criteria to modern American politics and tried to keep the movies more recent (sorry “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “Dr. Strangelove”).

“Dave” (1993): Starting off with a fan-favorite comedy, “Dave” isn’t a hard-hitting political thriller, but it is one of the most charming films about a president in office. After events transpire that force presidential impersonator Dave Kovic (Kevin Kline) to be a stand-in president, the average joe quickly feels at home in the White House. Although the setup is unoriginal (normal guy thrust into position of immense power), the film’s charm and intelligence, along with Kline’s sincere earnestness, sets it above the rest.

“Frost/Nixon” (2008): Recreating the actual events of Australian TV personality David Frost’s experiences leading up to the legendary interviews on Nixon’s presidency, “Frost/Nixon” perfectly captured the scandal revolving around the infamous political figure. This Best Picture nominee tells the tale of how Frost was able to fund and televise four programs that ran for 90 minutes each. The film highlights both sides of the matchup: a young Frost looking to leave a mark on the American media scene, and a cagey Richard M. Nixon attempting to regain some of his tarnished reputation. Even though the original taping was done decades ago, viewers still sit on the edge of their seats as Frost throws metaphorical jabs at Nixon.

“American President” (1995): A great piece of screenplay delivered by the always witty Aaron Sorkin, this film laid the groundwork for NBC’s “The West Wing.” Michael Douglas portrays an idealized president that stands up for what it is right, but has major difficulties with handling relationships. Widowed a few years prior to the film, President Shepard struggles with his potential love interest Sydney Wade (Annette Bening), an environmental lobbyist and newcomer to the Washington political circuit. In these moments, the film scores its biggest laughs, as President Shepard accesses FBI records for Sydney’s phone number and seeks relationship advice from White House staffers.

“All the President’s Men” (1976): A masterful film about journalism’s role in politics, “All the President’s Men” tells the story of the downfall of the country’s Commander-in-Chief Richard M. Nixon at the hands of two young Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. A true-to-life film that captures every little nuance of investigative reporting and diligent detective work, this makes the story of how the duo were able to uncover the Watergate cover-up as riveting as the actual events. Plus, it’s a film about a duo of newspaper reporters―who wouldn’t love it?

“Air Force One” (1997): To break up all the heavy flicks, let’s throw some unadulterated fun into the mix. Is the film a masterpiece by any means? No. It’s a beautiful mix of explosions, gunfire and ramped-up volume that makes you wish there was a president as badass as Harrison Ford. It may not be the most substantive film on the list, but it more than makes up for its lack of substance with plenty of style and sizzle. And remember, would-be baddies: Get off my plane.

“The Ides of March” (2011): No more fitting film than this one for primary season, “The Ides of March” highlights the strenuous time of campaigning as the potential nominee for the Democratic party. Told from the perspective of a presidential hopeful’s press secretary  (Ryan Gosling), a rising star in the political sphere, the film keeps viewers on the edge of its seat with a series of twists and political maneuvering.

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