Hollywood has a long history of celebrating those who inhabit the Oval Office. In honor of Election Day, Movie Fanatic presents our Top 10 Movie Presidents. Although not on this list because the film haven’t arrived yet, but an honorable mention surely has to go to the Steven Spielberg-directed Lincoln, starring an uncanny Daniel Day Lewis.
Josh Brolin was so impeccably cast as George W. Bush, it is frankly scary. Oliver Stone’s biopic on the president who pulled us together after 9/11 and then sent us into war with Iraq is a fascinating study of not only presidential politics, but also the very Freudian power of our parents in shaping who we are as people.
9. Primary Colors
Like Brolin before, John Travolta nailed it as a Bill Clinton-type president on the campaign trail. The man who would become president by the end of the movie was flawed for sure, but possessed all the characteristics of a man who could lead his country to greatness.
8. 13 Days
This 2000 picture starred a stellar Bruce Greenwood (currently in The River) as John F. Kennedy during one of the tensest and most threatening periods in U.S. history. Capturing the Kennedy accent is one thing, but inhabiting the entire persona of one of our most popular presidents is a whole new animal. Greenwood blows us away as a president who is walking a tightrope that with one wrong move could result in World War III.
In Dave, Kevin Kline is Dave Kovic, an everyman who has quite a side business as an impersonator of the fictional president in the film. When the real president is incapacitated, his inner circle drafts Kline’s Dave to temporarily “play” the president until the situation resolves itself. Director Ivan Reitman crafts a film that is part social commentary and part romantic comedy. Kline’s Dave shows us what we want in a Commander in Chief -- someone who is compassionate, in control and always has the interest of average Americans foremost in his mind.
6. The Contender
Jeff Bridges gives one of his best performances of his career in The Contender as a president who is in the process of offering the first woman (Joan Allen) in history the position of Vice President. The actor is so presidential in his portrayal, this writer could easily see him in the real office!
5. Independence Day
Bill Pullman is Thomas J. Whitmore in Independence Day and no previous holder of the office has had to deal with what is coming at him: An alien invasion. Not only has he got full command as the chief resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but Whitmore can hop in a fighter jet and lead an air armada to battle the invaders. Film presidents have had their fair share of rousing speeches, but the one that Pullman gives before taking to the air is as rousing as The Star Spangled Banner.
4. Deep Impact
Like many a cinematic president, Morgan Freeman’s President Tom Beck is confronted with a crisis. There is an asteroid heading for Earth that is threatening to destroy the planet. He must be calm and sure in his leadership and in the hands of Oscar winner Freeman, he achieves that and more. Freeman was also one of the first to portray a black president, something he has said may have helped lay the groundwork for the real America to embrace President Barack Obama.
3. Dr. Strangelove
Peter Sellers portrayed three characters in Stanley Kubrick’s parody masterpiece, but none more effective than his President Merkin Muffley. With all hell breaking loose around him as the U.S. nears a nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union, he is the source of the film’s side-slapping humor as well as representing what we would not want in a president should the you-know-what hit the fan.
2. The American President
Michael Douglas’ President Andrew Shepherd is a widower who is doing well enough by his country in his job as Chief Executive. But, there’s something missing in his life -- love. When he meets Annette Bening’s Sydney Ellen Wade, that all changes. The Rob Reiner-directed tale of love in the Oval Office also manages to show the minefields that would be what a president would have to walk through should he want to date while holding the office.
1. Air Force One
When Harrison Ford’s James Marshall tells Gary Oldman’s bad guy Ivan Korshunov, “Get off my plane,” audiences everywhere cheered. Sure, we want a president who is smart, strong and able to lead us through thick and thin. But, a leader who can also kick serious ass… well, now that’s just a terrific bonus.