Written by Doris Kearns Goodwin and Tony Kushner
Directed by Steven Spielberg
The American Civil War has been slogging on for four years. Hundreds of thousands are dead, and many in the North want it to end. President Abraham Lincoln has been elected to a second term by a landslide and has one thing he wants to spend his political capital on The 13th Amendment. Members of his cabinet and the Republican party are highly skeptical of betting all their chips on this risky Constitutional move. Lincoln is steadfast and works every angle possible to garner the votes. Meanwhile, a peace commission has been sent by Confederate leader Jefferson Davis to end things, but Lincoln knows if peace without the freedom of slaves is on the table the legislators will likely go with peace and nothing else. Time is running out, more than even the President realizes.
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The Ides of March (2011)
Written by George Clooney, Beau Willimon, and Grant Heslov
Directed by George Clooney
The Democratic presidential primary has reached Ohio with sights on North Carolina afterward. Governor Mike Morris is neck in neck with his rival Ted Pullman, senator from Arkansas. Stephen Meyers is the junior campaign manager working to help Morris pull ahead and secure the win. He is invited to an informal meeting with the opponent’s campaign manager, Tom Duffy. Meyers weighs what to do, thinking about informing Morris’ senior campaign manager, then deciding against it and going in secret. At the same time, Meyers starts up with a relationship with Molly, an intern with the campaign. Through his involvement with Molly, he learns about a secret that his candidate has been keeping. Meyers is faced with the struggle of pushing forward for a candidate he believes will bring the change that is needed or adhering to his principles and bringing light to these secrets.
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In the Loop (2009)
Written by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, & Tony Roche
Directed by Armando Iannucci
In the UK Minister for International Development Simon Forster makes an off the cuff remark that “war is unforeseeable” when questioned during a radio interview about the Middle East. This does not mesh with the company line coming out of Downing Street and the Prime Minister’s communications head Malcolm Tucker is more than happy to ream Forster out over this. Toby is new to Forster’s staff and, to make a good impression, he gets a spot in a meeting between the UK’s foreign office and a US delegation from the state department. This leads to another verbal flub from Forster and Tucker’s eventual solution to send him to Washington D.C. on a “fact-finding” mission. Problems snowball until all parties, those for and against war end up in a race to head each other off.
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Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Mike Nichols
In 1980, Democratic Congressman Charlie Wilson of Texas was known as a hard-drinking, hard-partying, womanizing member of the House Appropriations Committee. Wilson was a man quite deft at securing favors from his fellow congressmen and infamous for his office staff of “angels,” young and fit women that ran his day to day operations. Despite a mind very focused on the material and carnal, Wilson was deeply moved by the footage he saw of Afghan refugees. A fact-finding mission to Pakistan found him walking among a camp comprised of a one-fifth of the Afghan population that had fled in the wake of the Soviet invasion. Wilson, pushed by Texan socialite Joanne Herring and CIA agent Gust Avrakotos, was one of the figures responsible for getting weapons into the hands of the Afghan freedom fighters who ultimately repelled the Soviets.
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Written by Stanley Weiser
Directed by Oliver Stone
In 2002, President George W. Bush and his administration were seeking strong reasons to invade Iraq. Surrounded by people like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, and Condoleeza Rice, the President wants to avenge his father in a certain way, seeing the conclusion of Desert Storm as an anti-climax against Sadaam Hussein. Through flashbacks, we follow Bush from his fraternity days at Yale through his constant disappointments to his father, the development of his relationship with Laura, and finally his aspirations to seek higher office in Texas. All of this leads to the beginning of the Iraq War and realization of the military action’s failure and subsequent fallout.
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The Contender (2000)
Written & Directed by Rod Lurie
Senator Laine Hanson has been nominated as the new vice president in the wake of the previous office holder’s death. Like all presidential nominees, the Legislature exercises its advise and consent policy with hearings. Congressman Sheldon Runyon, chair of the House Judiciary, has made it his mission to take down Hanson publicly for a multitude of reasons. She is, after all, a Democrat to his Republican, but made even worse is that she is a former Republican who switched parties mid-stream. Her beliefs in upholding a woman’s right to choose was a catalyst for her political conversion, and now Runyon wants her to suffer. He enters into a deal with members of both parties in Congress, as well as a runner-up for the nomination, with plans to humiliate Senator Hanson with a scandalous revelation from her past.
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Primary Colors (1998)
Written by Elaine May
Directed by Mike Nichols
Henry Burton is a young man working his way into the political scene, but almost everyone he meets knows him as the grandson of a great civil rights leader. Henry ends up under the radar of the campaign to elect Governor Jack Stanton president. Stanton is an incredibly charismatic Southerner with a headstrong wife, Susan, who wants nothing more for her husband to attain this high office. As Henry says, Stanton seems like the real thing, and before he knows it, the young man is swept up into the momentum of Stanton’s ascendancy. As the campaign drags on though, Henry begins to learn more about the man at the center of things, about his infidelities, indiscretions, and lies. Henry is forced to face the hypocrisies that are unfolding before him and decide if this is the path he wants to continue down.
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Wag the Dog (1997)
Written by Hilary Henkin and David Mamet
Directed by Barry Levinson
When the President is under the weight of a scandal he gets help from Conrad Brean, a master spin doctor who has an endless bag of tricks to manipulate the media. He creates distractions that get people talking about the spin instead of the scandal. So the President needs his help when he is caught fooling around with an underage Firefly scout during her troupe’s visit to the White House. Brean strikes upon the idea of creating a false war with Albania to fill up the news cycle. Brean gets help from White House staffer Winifred Ames and Hollywood producer Stanley Motss to create a false yet believable war. This war comes complete with footage from war-torn Albania, a star-studded patriotic anthem, and war hero that needs to be brought home.
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The American President (1995)
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Rob Reiner
President Andrew Robinson is looking for support on a crime bill, having dropped the gun control pieces much the chagrin of an ideological staff member. While his people work on the crime bill, Robinson meets Sydney Ellen Wade, an environmental lobbyist with her bill to push. She accidentally insults the president to his face, and they proceed to spar with Robinson feeling very charmed by her lightly. He’s been a widower for several years, going between being president and raising his daughter. Robinson and Wade develop a mutual attraction and eventually being a relationship that becomes impossible to maintain privacy with as the media swarms. Conservative politician Senator Rumson sees this an opening for presidential election bid and begins to frame this relationship as antithetical with American family values. What throws another wrench in things is that support for the crime and environmental bills is becoming a tug of war in the Senate.
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Written by Gary Ross
Directed by Ivan Reitman
President Bill Mitchell is a no-nonsense executive with a messy personal life, cheating on his increasingly estranged wife. He employs a double to help hide his escape with his mistress and this time around he picks the uncanny doppelganger of Dave Kovic. Dave runs an employment agency in Georgetown and impersonates the president on the side. Everything is going smoothly until Mitchell has a stroke while he is with his mistress. The quick thinking and insidious chief of staff Bob Alexander persuades Dave to help them cover up this tragedy by continuing to impersonate the president. Dave does so hesitantly but quickly falls for Mitchell’s wife Ellen which complicates matters.
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