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Top 5 movies on US presidents

Here are the best five films that are based on American presidents.

Written by Kshitij Rawat | New Delhi |
Updated: November 3, 2020 5:08:54 pm
lincoln, daniel day lewis, steven spielbergA still from Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. (Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Today, the presidential electors in the United States will be elected and they, in turn, will decide whether Donald Trump is re-elected or Joe Biden becomes the president.

Hollywood has tackled political issues and indeed the presidents. Here are the best five films that are based on American presidents.

1. Lincoln

Perhaps the best movie on an American president, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln stars the now-retired actor Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln. Day-Lewis, a Brit, plays Lincoln with confidence and elan, and makes it looks almost easy. The film also humanises Lincoln, and we come to know however great a figure he was, and despite all his numerous achievements, he was still a human being just trying to do the right thing.

2. Nixon

One of 20th century’s most controversial US presidents, Richard Nixon’s career was marred by upheavals and scandals. Oliver Stone’s Nixon stars Anthony Hopkins in the lead role. The film portrays Nixon as a more complex figure (as opposed to his outright negative image in popular imagination). Hopkins does not look anything like Nixon, and the film knows it. It makes up for that lack of resemblance by making the character well-written, flawed and ultimately compelling.

3. W

Another Oliver Stone directorial, W is about George W Bush’s life and political career. Bush led the US to a disastrous war with Iraq on a flimsy pretext (Iraq was said to possess weapons of mass destruction that were never found). W, though, once again humanises its lead character, Bush. The film does not excuse Bush for his deeds, but contextualises his actions.

4. The Butler

If you really want to watch a movie about an American president, you will find a lot of those in a single movie. Lee Daniels’s The Butler is a story told through the perspective of Forest Whitaker’s Cecil Gaines, who serves in the White House for decades and observes the arrival and departure of eight US presidents from Eisenhower to Obama.

5. LBJ

Woody Harrelson essays the role of Lyndon B. Johnson, who assumed office after John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The performance of Harrelson, looking almost unrecognisable, takes some getting used to, due to the comic roles he has done before. But once it settles, the actor is successful and engaging while playing “the accidental president.”

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