Saturday, November 17, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: Movie Presidents

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we take a look at some of the Best Movie Presidents ever to grace the big screen. You might be thinking that this list would have been much more ideal a week ago, right after the latest Presidential election took place. But, you'd be forgetting that we're Slackers in nature, and we're typically a week or two behind with most brilliant ideas. That being said, we still feel this idea came to us soon enough, and is worthy of post now. Plus, Steven Spielberg's latest, "Lincoln", got its wide release yesterday, so the time still feels right with this.


Abraham Lincoln, the focus of Spielberg's newest film, is referred to by many as the greatest American President of all-time. Sure, he helped abolish slavery and end the Civil War, but how does that compare with other various on-screen Commander-In-Chiefs? We've seen presidents help stave off alien attacks, single-handedly (and physically) help thwart terrorist attacks, and even travel in time for History projects. How do you compete with that?

Taking all of that into account, we weigh our thoughts on the extravagant, fictional presidential depictions over the years with dozens of other realistic re-tellings of true American heroes, and filter it down to our five favorite selections.

Hit the jump and see which titles - as well as the actor and President that was depicted in the film - made our lists!

Alex Schopp -
This isn't a category I've ever thought much about. I'd be happy with any of my top three selections being at the top of this list, but outside of those, it feels like this category drops off quite a bit.

     1. Air Force One, Harrison Ford as President James Marshall (1997)

"GET OFF MY PLANE!"
     2. Independence Day, Bill Pullman as President Thomas J. Whitmore (1996)
"We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!"
     3. Frost/Nixon, Frank Langella as former President Richard Nixon (2008)
"That's our tragedy, you and I Mr. Frost. No matter how high we get, they still look down at us. No matter how many awards or column inches are written about you, or how high the elected office is, it's still not enough. We still feel like the little man. The loser. And isn't that why we work so hard now, why we fight for every inch? If we reflect privately, just for a moment, if we allow ourselves a glimpse into that shadowy place we call our soul, isn't that why we're here?
     4. Dave, Kevin Kline as President Bill Mitchell (1993)
"I don't want to tell some eight-year-old kid he's gotta sleep in the street because we want people to feel better about their *car*. Do *you* want to tell them that? I sure don't."
     5. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Robert Barron as former President Abraham Lincoln (1989)
"Fourscore and...seven minutes ago... we, your forefathers, were brought forth upon a most excellent adventure conceived by our new friends, Bill... and Ted. These two great gentlemen are dedicated to a proposition which was true in my time, just as it's true today. Be excellent to each other."

Ben Foutch -
It's a shame that "House of Re-Animator" never came to fruition; William H. Macy would have made a great reanimated president.

     1. JFK, Steve Reed as former President John F. Kennedy (1991)

     2. Dave, Kevin Kline as President Bill Mitchell (1993)

     3. Thirteen Days, Bruce Greenwood as former President John F. Kennedy (2000)

     4. Air Force One, Harrison Ford as President James Marshall (1997)

     5. Primary Colors, John Travolta as Governor Jack Stanton (1996)



Derek Clem -

     1. Independence Day, Bill Pullman as President Thomas J. Whitmore (1996)

This president doesn't hind behind walls, he literally fights in the war to save the world.
     2. Armageddon, Stanley Anderson as The President (1998)
An epic presidential speech over a montage of power walks, beautiful landscapes, American flags, uncertain impending doom, and April O'Neil's son learning who his father is will be sure to get a few tears to run down your face.
     3. Frost/Nixon, Frank Langella as former President Richard Nixon (2008)
Amazing performance!
     4. Amistad, Anthony Hopkins as former President John Quincy Adams (1997)
He saves the day!
     5. Canadian Bacon, Alan Alda as The President (1995)
He's a sneaky slimy dude trying to wage war with the Canucks to raise his approval rating.

Nathan Hinds -

     1. Air Force One, Harrison Ford as President James Marshall (1997)

The first two spots on my list were neck and neck, until I ultimately decided that the person at #2 was in consideration for just one speech really. Harrison Ford had a whole movie that he was awesome in. And he's Harrison Ford.
     2. Independence Day, Bill Pullman as President Thomas J. Whitmore (1996)
Now you all know what speech I'm talking about. I feel like it's been posted multiple times on this site so I won't post it unless someone else wants to. I think we can all agree that it's arguably the best movie speech ever.
     3. Deep Impact, Morgan Freeman as President Beck (1998)
Morgan Freeman has played a lot of powerful people, probably because he sounds like one of the most important people ever.
     4. Mars Attacks!, Jack Nicholson as President James Dale (1996)
Even though this wasn't even the best character Jack Nicholson played in the movie, I still like thinking of him as being the President.
     5. Bedazzled, Brendan Fraser as former President Abraham Lincoln (2000)
I would say that this was the only real president represented on my list, but considering the movie it was in, it would sound a little ridiculous. Really I just try and represent this underrated comedy anytime I can.

Andy Schopp -

     1. Air Force One, Harrison Ford as President James Marshall (1997)

Best actor to play the President. Looks like Ford pulls in number one positions on both of my lists this week.
     2. Independence Day, Bill Pullman as President Thomas J. Whitmore (1996)
Everyone will note it, but this Epic Speech!
     3. Idiocracy, Terry Crews as President Camacho (2006)
While this may not be on my list of favorite movies or anything, Crews plays the best dumbest president of all time. So funny!
     4. Night at the Museum, Robin Williams as former President Theodore Roosevelt (2006)
Ted Roosevelt as a Rough Rider. He really nails this one with a good mix of comedy and as much accuracy as is allowed in a movie like this.
     5. Bedazzled, Brendan Fraser as former President Abraham Lincoln (2000)
The only actor who will have played Abe Lincoln better than Daniel Day-Lewis when it's all said and done. Or maybe not, but whatever.

There we have it, folks. Some of the greatest Presidential performances we've ever seen on the big screen. Quite the eclectic list, as 16 different titles appeared in the 25 slots above. It was also interesting the see the extreme genre differences between all of these films, everything from comedy to action to drama to epic. Lots of variation and that's always fun to see. Still, a few films managed to stand out from the rest. Two films each appeared with four selections, "Air Force One" and "Independence Day", but you'd probably say that "Air Force One" takes the cake this week. Not only did it tie for the most overall votes, but it also grabbed three of the five top picks. Whatever your thoughts on the film, Harrison Ford is an iconic action star, and seeing him, as a President, take out the terrorists, was pretty awesome. Maybe not the greatest film of the bunch, but one of the better overall fun performances. And as for "Independence Day", everyone knows why this film is here. It's one of the greatest film speeches of all-time, and Bill Pullman does a great job in the role.

Outside of those two, three other films managed multiple selections: "Frost/Nixon", "Dave", and "Bedazzled". Quite the grouping of films there, but all offers something fun for viewers of the genre. "Frost/Nixon" was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, so it's the most prestigious of the group; however, the others are enjoyable comedies that are always entertaining to watch.

As always, we hope that each of these selections helps you to expand your knowledge and appreciation of some of the best films that this category has to offer, and guides you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!