The Big List | The 50 Best Political Movies Ever

1. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1962)

Columbia Pictures

Columbia Pictures

Satire is the greatest oppositional tool and Dr. Strangelove satires the absurdity of massive military preparedness. The military industrial complex has created the mentality that politicians believe they shouldn’t react to threats, but react to the very first mention of a threat. Stanley Kubrick’s film takes place largely in an underground bunker, a war room where no fighting is allowed (a hilarious verbal joke that is appropriate every election year where candidates hope to put boots on the ground to fight the wars that might help them get elected). It’s a doomsday scenario about whether a nuclear warhead should be dropped, and the action of dropping it is one of the most iconic movie images of all time: a man in a cowboy hat rides a bomb to the destruction of all living things beneath it.

In the old west, cowboys would settle things with a draw, the quickest to get their gun and fire won, the other died. Shoot first, ask questions later. Civilized people know that’s not how things should be done in a war room, but how can we be sure it isn’t?

~ Brian Formo

The Best Political Movies 50 Runners-Up:

51. Barry Lyndon (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1975)

52. Idiocracy (dir. Mike Judge, 2006)

53. No (dir. Pablo Larrain, 2012)

54. Get on the Bus (dir. Spike Lee, 1996)

55. The Marriage of Maria Braun (dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1979)

56. The Lion in Winter (dir. Anthony Harvey, 1968)

57. Marie Antoinette (dir. Sofia Coppola, 2006)

58. Arabian Nights, Volumes I-III (dir. Miguel Gomes, 2015)

59. Taurus (dir. Alexander Sokurov, 2001)

60. Hunger (dir. Steve McQueen, 2008)

61. The Damned (dir. Luchino Visconti, 1969)

62. Outrage (dir. Kirby Dick, 2009)

63. To Kill a Mockingbird (dir. Robert Mulligan, 1962)

64. Metropolis (dir. Fritz Lang, 1927)

65. The Sun (dir. Aleksandr Sokurov, 2005)

66. Offside (dir. Jafar Panahi, 2006)

67. All the King’s Men (dir. Robert Rossen, 1949)

68. Recount (dir. Jay Roach, 2008)

69. Bloody Sunday (dir. Paul Greengrass, 2002)

70. Snowpiercer (dir. Bong Joon Ho, 2013)

71. The War Room (dirs. Chris Hegedus & D.A. Pennebaker, 1993) 

72. When Father Was Away on Business (dir. Emir Kusturica, 1985)

73. The White Ribbon (dir. Michael Haneke, 2009)

74. How to Survive a Plague (dir. David France, 2012)

75. A Perfect Candidate (dirs. R.J. Cutler & David Van Taylor, 1996)

76. Secret Honor (dir. Robert Altman, 1994)

77. V for Vendetta (dir. James McTeigue, 2005)

78. The Times of Harvey Milk (dir. Robert Epstein, 1984)

79. Children of Men (dir. Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)

80. The King’s Speech (dir. Tom Hooper, 2010)

81. A Dry White Season (dir. Euzhan Palcy, 1989)

82. The Circle (dir. Stefan Haupt, 2014)

83. WarGames (dir. John Badham, 1983)

84. Conspiracy (dir. Frank Pierson, 2001)

85. Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (dirs. Mark Achbar & Peter Wintonick, 1992)

86. Walker (dir. Alex Cox, 1987)

87. Apocalypse Now (dir. Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)

88. The Last Emperor (dir. Bernardo Bertolucci, 1987)

89. Nixon (dir. Oliver Stone, 1995)

90. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (dirs. Joe & Anthony Russo, 2014

91. The Tin Drum (dir. Volker Schlöndorff, 1979)

92. Thirteen Days (dir. Roger Donaldson, 2000)

93. The President’s Analyst (dir. Theodore J. Flicker, 1967)

94. Being There (dir. Hal Ashby, 1979)

95. The Queen (dir. Stephen Frears, 2006)

96. A Short Film About Killing (dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1988)

97. The Sorrow and the Pity (dir. Marcel Ophüls, 1969)

98. Cradle Will Rock (dir. Tim Robbins, 1999)

99. The Night of the Living Dead Quadrilogy (dir. George A. Romero, 1968-2005)

100. Born in Flames (dir. Lizzie Borden, 1983)