Top Movies: Best Election Day Movies

It’s Election Day (well, it’s tomorrow, Nov. 2, but close enough), and we at Disc Dish thought, ‘Hey! Time for another top movie list!’ So, we’ve compiled our top 10 election movies.

All the King's Men, 1949

How did we come up with this list of our favorites? We voted, naturally.

So here they are, in alphabetical order.

All the King’s Men (1949)
Ignore the 2006 remake with Sean Penn (Carlito’s Way) and stick to the original 1949 Oscar winning film about the rise and fall of a fiery Southern populist gubernatorial candidate (Broderick Crawford) who learns that intimidation and corruption will get him where he wants to be.
Available on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Bulworth, 1998

Bob Roberts (1992)
Tim Robbins (Bull Durham) wrote, directed and stars in this satirical mock documentary about a music-loving conservative candidate who shadily spins his campaign in such a way that his right wing platitudes appear to be almost rebellious, thereby appealing to everyone who’s unsure of his questionable integrity.
Available on DVD from Artisan

Bulworth (1998)
Co-writer/director/star Warren Beatty (Ishtar) portrays a suicidal senator whose re-election campaign takes a turn for the nutty when he starts to say whatever is on mind and then begins rapping like a hip-hop star, much to the delight of his constituency and the media.
Available on DVD from 20th Century Fox
Home Entertainment

The Candidate, 1972

The Candidate (1972)
“What do we do now!,” asks Robert Redford (The Natural) as a liberal lawyer with no interest in politics after he’s convinced to run for Senate and then wins in this clever comedy/drama that proposes that a politician’s knowledge of the issues isn’t nearly as important as looking like a movie star.
Available on DVD from Warner Home Video

Election (1999)
Pick Flick! Tracy Flick, that is, Reese Witherspoon’s (Pleasantville) annoyingly overachieving student running for class president in Alexander Payne’s outstanding satire on high school life and win-at-any-cost politics.
Available on DVD and Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment

Election, 1999

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
The classic Kennedy-era Cold War thriller finds the ever-warm Angela Lansbury (Beauty and the Beast) running ice cold as a ruthless Communist power broker who engineers the brainwashing of her son (Laurence Harvey) to bring about the assassination of a political candidate, thus placing the Reds in the upper echelons of the U.S. government in the upcoming election.
Available on DVD from MGM Home Entertainment

Primary (1960)
Robert Drew’s groundbreaking documentary on the 1960 Wisconsin Primary election between John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey offered viewers their first-ever verité-styled look at the ins and outs of contemporary campaigning.
Available on DVD from New Video

Primary, 1960

Primary Colors (1998)
John Travolta (From Paris With Love) stars as a philandering, doltish but charismatic Southern governor running for the U.S. presidency—sound familiar?—in this highly enjoyable adaptation of Joe Klein’s 1996 bestselling novel.
Available on DVD from Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Wag the Dog (1998)
When the President gets involved in a sex scandal days before the election, a Washington spin doctor (Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver) hires a Hollywood filmmaker (Dustin Hoffman of All the President’s Men, channeling well-known producer Robert Evans) to “produce” a fake war with Albania to distract the American public before they cast their ballots. David Mamet co-wrote this almost too-clever dark comedy about modern-day media manipulation in politics.
Available on DVD from Warner

Primary Colors, 1998

The War Room (1994)
Veteran documentarians D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus introduced us to the state- of-the-art campaigning methods used by political strategists George Stephanopoulos and James Carville in this insightful examination of Bill Clinton’s run for the presidency in 1992.
Available on DVD from Universal

That’s our list. What are your favorite election movies?

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.