The top 10 movie politicians

The top 10 movie politicians. By Simon Miraudo.

Election fever is in the air, what with the impending vote for the President of the United States, as well as Leslie Knope’s equally significant run for Pawnee City Council on Parks and Recreation. We’ve also seen a glut of politically minded films lately; from George Clooney’s too-close-for-comfort cover-up thriller The Ides of March, to Ralph Fiennes‘ furious Shakespeare adaptation of Coriolanus. Then there are the similarly titled true stories: misguided Maggie Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady, and Aung San Suu Kyi’s tale The Lady. This week, we’re sidestepping the any depictions of real-life pollies and sharing our top 10 (fictional) movie politicians. We want you … to read this list!

10. Governor Pappy O’Daniel in O Brother, Where Art Thou

The eternally electioneering Governor Pappy O’Daniel (Charles Durning) decides to ride the coattails of escaped convicts/hit singers the Soggy Bottom Boys all the way to another victory in 1930s Mississippi. He even leads his constituents in a rousing rendition of ‘You Are My Sunshine.’ Never mind his policies; this is politics.

9. MP Simon Foster in In The Loop

Most would say that accidentally becoming the figurehead for an impending world war merely by misspeaking during an interview is not the hallmark of a good politician. However, poor Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) has to spend every day withstanding the increasingly imaginative verbal evisceration of the dragon-tongued Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi). So, he deserves a pass on the whole war-starting palaver.

8. President James Marshall in Air Force One

Marshall (Harrison Ford) is the only president to throw a terrorist off a plane mid-flight. Well, him and Jimmy Carter.

7. Bob Roberts in Bob Roberts

A folk-singing politician! Who cares that Bob (Tim Robbins) is an ultra-right-wing, drug-trafficking, assassination-faking nutso slowly building a cult of devotees? Listen to that voice!

6. Senator Jay Billington Bulworth in Bulworth

Of course, the only thing better than a folk-singing politician is a rapping one. When depressed Senator Jay Bulworth (Warren Beatty) takes a contract out on his own life, he is finally free to share what’s really on his mind, breaking so wildly from the mould that he entices a campaigner played by Halle Berry into a romantic entanglement. Well played, B!

5. Senator Jefferson Smith in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

A quote from Mr. Smith (Jimmy Stewart): “Get up there with that lady that’s up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won’t just see scenery; you’ll see the whole parade of what Man’s carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting. Fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so’s he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed.” Filibuster’d.

4. President Andrew Shepherd in The American President

Seeing as we can’t squeeze on The West Wing’s President Bartlett (movies only!), we’ll settle for the other, younger, Aaron Sorkin creation. They’re basically the same character; only this particular POTUS, played by Michael Douglas, is a single father with his eye on a fiery lobbyist (Annette Bening).

3. President Merkin Muffley in Dr. Strangelove

Technically, we have a moratorium on Dr. Strangelove mentions here, but how could we possibly leave it – and Peter Sellers’ iconic, befuddled, ill equipped for negotiation Merkin Muffley – off this Top 10? I’d be sorry. You’d be sorry. Don’t say that you’d be more sorry than I would, because I’m capable of being just as sorry as you are.

2. Dave Kovic in Dave

Before there were dream Presidents Shepherd and Bartlett, there was Dave Kovic (Kevin Kline), the kindly lookalike of recently deceased comatose POTUS Mitchell. He is recruited to stand in temporarily, just to help maintain the status quo. However, unhappy with his puppet status, he takes action and brings in his accountant buddy (Charles Grodin) to balance the budget … in one night. Hope!

1. Tracy Flick in Election

Today, it’s just a seemingly harmless high school presidential campaign. But tomorrow, Tracy Enid Flick will rule the planet. Reese Witherspoon was robbed of an Oscar for her starring role in Alexander Payne’s brilliant satire. Tracy would have figured out a way to weasel one out of the Academy, even without a nomination…

Discuss: OK, who did we miss? Place your votes!

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