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14 Presidential Election Movies to Watch Now

Check out the candidates in these favorite political films

  • Primary Colors
    Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

    ‘Primary Colors’ (1998)

    They have different names, but it is assumed that the candidate portrayed by John Travolta is former President Bill Clinton, and Emm­a Thompson, the stalwart wife, is current candidate Hillary Clinton. This Mike Nichols-directed screen version of the  political campaign novel penned by “Anonymous” ­­— and later revealed to be Joe Klein — is about dirty tricks and dirtier secrets. On DVD and streaming services.

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  • Canadian Bacon
    GramercyPictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

    ‘Canadian Bacon’ (1995)

    Bemoaning the fact that he has no country to wage war against — and thus seal his reelection — the U.S. president, played by Alan Alda, picks a fight with Canada. A silly comedy, it also stars the late John Candy in one of his last films. On DVD and streaming.

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  • Man Of The Year
    Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

    ‘Man of the Year’ (2006)

    Robin Williams is a Jon Stewart-like comedic political talk-show host who starts out running for president as a lark but then finds himself in a heated contest with the major party front-runners that ends with him in the Oval Office — or does it? On DVD and streaming.

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  • Swing Vote
    Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

    ‘Swing Vote’ (2008)

    The presidential election comes down to one guy: Kevin Costner, the sole undecided voter in a small town. As candidates Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper jockey for his support, the film explores the outrageous lengths presidential hopefuls will go to curry favor with small but influential blocs. On DVD and streaming.

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  • The American President
    Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

    ‘The American President’ (1995)

    President Michael Douglas is about to sell his soul for reelection by backing crime and employment bills he doesn’t believe in. Fortunately, he falls for a comely lobbyist, played by Annette Bening, who has special influence. On DVD and streaming.

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  • Game Change
    Phillip V. Caruso/HBO

    ‘Game Change’ (2012)

    Ed Harris is John McCain, and Julianne Moore is Sarah Palin in HBO’s dramatization of the 2008 presidential race — and it’s a lot more sympathetic to the two of them than you might expect if you read the 2010 eye-opening book of the same name by two of the country’s top political writers. On DVD and streaming.

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  • Wag The Dog
    New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection

    ‘Wag the Dog’ (1997)

    Campaign strategist Robert De Niro doesn’t worry about the fact that his incumbent presidential candidate has been caught getting cozy with an underage girl because he hires a Hollywood director (Dustin Hoffman) to fake footage of a war with Albania to create a distraction. On DVD and streaming.

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  • A middle aged caucasian couple look at a map outdoors with text that reads keep life fun and your calendar full.

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  • Being There
    United Artists/Courtesy Everett Collection

    ‘Being There’ (1979)

    This time the campaign doesn’t begin until after the final fade-out — but it’s clear that Peter Sellers’ naive Chauncey Gardiner, a blank slate to the end, will ride his oblivious innocence all the way to the White House. On DVD and streaming.

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  • The Best Man
    Courtesy Everett Collection

    ‘The Best Man’ (1964)

    Gore Vidal wrote the script for a political drama that still resonates today. A ruthless candidate played by Cliff Robertson and a principled candidate played by Henry Fonda vie for their party’s nomination. Highlight: When the former president, played by Lee Tracy (Oscar nomination), reluctantly leans toward Robertson and tells him: “It’s not that I object to your being a bastard … It’s your being such a stupid bastard that I object to.” On DVD and streaming.

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  • The Manchurian Candidate
    Courtesy Everett Collection

    ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ (1962)

    Egged on by his incredibly creepy mother (Angela Lansbury), brainwashed Korean War hero Laurence Harvey sets out to assassinate a presidential candidate — making his stepfather next in line for the nomination. Will Frank Sinatra be able to stop him in time? On DVD and streaming.  

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  • Nashville
    Courtesy Everett Collection

    ‘Nashville’ (1975)

    We never see presidential candidate Hal Phillip Walker, but his campaign swing through the country music capital is the unifying element for Robert Altman’s sprawling 24-character portrait of Middle America at the time of the nation’s bicentennial. On DVD and streaming.

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  • The Dead Zone
    Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

    ‘The Dead Zone’ (1983)

    This iteration of a presidential candidate played by Martin Sheen is a far cry from the noble chief executive he’d later play on The West Wing. In the movie, he uses a baby to shield himself from a sniper. On DVD and streaming.

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  • Idiocracy
    20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

    ‘Idiocracy’ (2006)

    Released from suspended animation after 500 years, Luke Wilson discovers that although he was only marginally intelligent back in the 2000s, thanks to centuries of lowered human expectations, he is now the smartest man alive. It doesn’t take long before his “brilliance” lands him in presidential politics. On DVD and streaming.

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  • Head Of State
    DreamWorks/Courtesy Everett Collection

    ‘Head of State’ (2003)

    Thirteen years ago, the idea of a black presidential candidate seemed so outlandish it was ripe for Chris Rock’s comedic treatment. On DVD and streaming.

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  • Entertainment End-Slide
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