10 Political Movies to Watch This Week

Published on November 5, 2020

It’s been a wild week with the 2020 election. Many are seeking occasional distractions, and we can’t blame them. Now, political movies may not be the best distraction at the moment, but if you want to lose yourself in a fictional political world for a bit, we’re recommending these nine following political movies (and one show) this week. 


Warren Beatty takes big swings as a filmmaker. He’s nothing if not ambitious. He did, after all, make a three-hour epic sympathetic to communists during the Reagan era. That gamble paid off, and so did his gamble with Bulworth. Now, parts of the movie have dated and not aged well, but Beatty is a wonder as Senator Jay Bulworth. Fed up with the game, Bulworth appropriates black culture and starts rapping to the world about the flaws of the world. The Senator also paid a man to kill him. Bulworth’s depiction of the system hasn’t dated, even if parts of the movie have. It’s a good dark comedy that, once again, showed how fearless Beatty was behind and in front of the camera.

The Candidate 

Robert Redford gives one of his more overlooked performances in The Candidate. Redford plays a Democratic lawyer, Bill McKay, who goes against his better judgment and runs for office. He loses himself in the process. The Candidate is a tragedy, an entertaining tragedy. Redford is reserved but magnetic as the candidate. It’s a great performance in a riveting cautionary tale. 


Dave is as light as a feather, but what a beautiful feather it is. It’s such a kind movie. Kevin Kline is wonderful in dual roles, playing a man who looks like the President. He’s hired to fill in for the President after POTUS suffers a stroke. Ivan Reitman’s comedy is silly on paper, but it’s sincere, well-meaning, and wonderfully entertaining in execution. 

The Dead Zone

Christopher Walken gives one of his all-time great performances in this Stephen King adaptation. Like the best King films, The Dead Zone works best as a drama. Walken is a tragic presence in the film, trying to stop a madman politician (played by Martin Sheen) from one day starting a nuclear war. The Dead Zone is a frightening nightmare with a touching performance from Walken.


More and more people have been discovering and talking about this cult classic over the last few years. Mike Judge’s comedy depicts an America on the decline, in which ignorance reigns supreme. Luke Wilson plays an average Joe who becomes the smartest man in the world when he wakes up in a bleak but familiar future. It’s up to Wilson’s everyman to fix the country. Idiocracy is low-brow and high-brow at the same time. It has a sure-to-be iconic performance from Terry Crews as President Camacho, too. 


Oliver Stone’s three-hour epic has been questioned for its accuracy ever since its release. Thankfully, it’s not a history book, so any dramatization of facts doesn’t interfere with the exhilarating experience. JFK is about attorney Jim Garrison’s questioning Kennedy’s assassination, but it’s more about battling for the truth. Truthful or not, Garrison is a noble and inspiring hero in JFK. Stone shows the cost and pain of simply asking questions and seeking the truth. Always timely. It’s Garrison’s personal journey that ties together an ensemble of entertaining characters, whose point-of-views are depicted with all the bells and whistles at Stone’s disposal. 


Sean Penn is a marvel as Harvey Milk. Milk was the first openly gay man elected to office. Milk was assassinated by a fellow man in office, Dan White, who’s infamous for the “twinkie defense.” It’s one of Gus Van Sant’s more heartfelt films, in which he makes you feel every emotion on-screen. It’s a simply told biopic with humanity often missing in standard biopics. 

Seven Days in May

John Frankheimer’s nail biter of a thriller is a master class in acting, drama, and suspense. It’s Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas going head-to-head. Two towering characters played by two of Hollywood’s biggest legends. Lancaster plays General James Scott, who’s planning to overthrow the President, and Douglas is trying to stop him. Written by Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone), Seven Days in May is a ticking time bomb impossible to look away from. 

Primary Colors

Mike Nichols’ work was often political. The late filmmaker directed Charlie Wilson’s War and Catch-22, but his most enjoyable piece of political entertainment was Primary Colors. Written by the great Elaine May (The Heartbreak Kid), Nichols’ ‘98 film is full of humor and tragedy. Primary Colors is most famous for its parallels to President Clinton, but the movie is much more than that. It’s a must-watch for John Travolta fans. The actor’s broad charisma is perfect for a politician’s role. Travolta is fantastic. 


Veep is an HBO series, not a film, but there’s never a wrong time to watch it. It couldn’t be more fitting to watch than now, either. The final season of Veep, which is spectacular, depicted the 2020 election with hilarious foresight. It’s seven seasons of gold worth mining again and again with repeat watches. Veep grows funnier and, sadly, truer with time.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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