We all watch movies, and which is the “best” is a matter of opinion really. Here are the top 10 political movies from 1990-2000. Don’t forget to check out other lists throughout Thought for Your Penny.
10. Election (1999) 92% at Rotten Tomatoes
Elections are always a circus, even when they’re just for high school student council, and teacher Jim McAllister is determined to stop Tracy Flick from winning. This film follows all the downfalls of the chase for power and is even more relevant after accusations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Matthew Broderick, Chris Klein
9. The Crying Game (1992) 97% at Rotten Tomatoes
These days all anyone remembers about The Crying Game is the infamous scene where Fergus learns Dil is actually transgendered. However, it’s actually a poignant film about the IRA, activism, revolution, and the lengths people will go to make a difference. It’s a damn good one too.
Director: Neil Jordan
Starring: Stephen Rea, Jaye Davidson, Forest Whitaker
8. Dave (1993) 94% at Rotten Tomatoes
Dave Kovic happens to look exactly like the POTUS, so he’s used as a stand-in whenever the real deal wants to sneak away. One day POTUS has a stroke while having sex with an aide, and Dave is stuck impersonating him indefinitely. He falls for the first lady and starts actually trying to be a real President in a story much more lighthearted than the idiot learning to be a real leader in our current world.
Director: Ivan Reitman
Starring: Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Frank Langella
7. Primary Colors (1998) 80% at Rotten Tomatoes
Twenty years ago, Bill was the Clinton everyone focused on, and Primary Colors is a roman a clef about his first campaign run in 1992. The book was released in 1996, and the movie came out in 1998, the same year the Monica Lewinski scandal broke. Relive the 90s in all its glory.
Director: Mike Nichols
Starring: John Travolta, Emma Thompson, Kathy Bates
6. Nixon (1995) 75% at Rotten Tomatoes
Until November 2016, Richard Nixon was perhaps the most polarizing president in modern American history. Stone provides a look into his life before the Presidency and through the Watergate scandal and his eventual resignation. It almost makes you like him.
Director: Oliver Stone
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Joan Allen, Bob Hoskins
5. Malcom X (1992) 91% at Rotten Tomatoes
Malcolm Little discovered the Nation of Islam while in jail in his youth. When he’s released, he becomes one of its most vocal and charismatic leaders, converting to become a Sunni Muslim, and changing his name to El-Hajj Malik Al-Shabazz. He’s assassinated on February 21, 1965, all of which is covered in this movie.
Director: Spike Lee
Starring: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Al Freeman Jr.
4. JFK (1991) 84% at Rotten Tomatoes
We’ve all heard the conspiracy theories about the assassination of JFK on November 22, 1963, and Stone explores them in depth in this three-hour-long epic. The film follows New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison and the trial of Clay Shaw, offering speculation that the CIA, mafia, and military industrial complex plotted a conspiracy against the president.
Director: Oliver Stone
Starring: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones
3. The American President (1995) 90% at Rotten Tomatoes
The President of the United States is a widower who falls in love with an environmental lobbyist. Now the floodgates are open for his rivals to exploit the situation and pull his character into question.
Director: Rob Reiner
Starring: Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, Martin Sheen
2. Bulworth (1998) 75% at Rotten Tomatoes
When Senator Bulworth is facing financial ruin, he decides the only way to provide for his family is to put a hit on himself and let his family collect on the insurance policy. Then he becomes…well…a less racist Donald Trump with a hip-hop spirit. It’s an interesting watch since the 2016 election.
Director: Warren Beatty
Starring: Warren Beatty, Halle Berry, Ernie Banks
1. Wag the Dog (1997) 85% at Rotten Tomatoes
After a scandal breaks days before the election, the president’s advisers work with a Hollywood producer to manufacture a war in Albania so he can be a hero. They film refugees on a sound stage, create a bluegrass song to catch people’s hearts, and do everything in their power to pull the wool over the American public’s eyes.
Director: Barry Levinson
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Anne Heche