This week, just a few days after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away, we find ourselves celebrating National Voter Registration Day and encouraging people to get out the vote.
This year’s election will be historic and pivotal for a number of reasons, and it will be historic and pivotal up and down the ballot. But the biggest race will be, of course, the presidential race.
While we get to choose our president in reality, there are a few fictional presidents we’d love to see sitting in the Oval Office. To support National Voter Registration Day and efforts by Rock the Vote, we polled our Atom Tickets users: What movie with a U.S. president is your favorite? The results were honestly a bit surprising, with an unexpected choice taking the #1 spot:
- Air Force One
- The American President
- Independence Day
- All the President’s Men
- Lee Daniel’s The Butler
- My Fellow Americans
That’s a solid list, but the Top 5 were the clear favorites. Let’s take a look at why each one is a fantastic movie, shall we?
1. Air Force One (1997)
This one features Gruff Old Man Harrison Ford before he was Gruff Old Man Harrison Ford. Ford plays President James Marshall and Gary Oldman plays Russian terrorist Ivan Korshunov. After Marshall travels to Moscow to give a speech on anti-terrorism, the president’s official plane, Air Force One, is hijacked by Russian terrorists who take the passengers hostage and threaten to kill one every half hour unless their demands are met. But Marshall is a former Medal of Honor winner and he fights to take back his plane and deal with the terrorist threat himself.
2. The American President (1995)
Neither a political thriller or an action movie, The American President is instead a rom-com (with, admittedly, some dramatic moments). Created by the legendary team of director Rob Reiner and writer Aaron Sorkin, the movie is both sincere and sweet. Michael Douglas plays widower President Andrew Shepard, who meets environmental lobbyist Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening) during his reelection campaign. Sparks immediately fly and the two eventually fall in love – but it leaves him open to an attack from his opponent, Senator Bob Rumson (Richard Dreyfuss), who questions his character. Does Shepard choose his reelection or love? Or can he have them both?
3. Independence Day (1996)
Apparently, all the great movies about U.S. presidents were made in the mid- to late-90s. We were surprised that this movie didn’t end up in the #1 spot simply because of Bill Pullman’s epic “Today we celebrate our Independence Day” speech as President Thomas J. Whitmore. Though ostensibly Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum’s movie, it’s as much Pullman’s movie as it is theirs thanks to Whitmore being a surprisingly nuanced and truly decent human being – not something you often expect from a politician. As for his famous speech, it’s one of the most rousing speeches ever given in a movie. We dare you to say otherwise:
4. Lincoln (2012)
One of the best of what I call Steven Spielberg’s “historical period,” Lincoln won two Oscars for a reason. That includes Best Actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis, who was transformed as President Abraham Lincoln, unquestionably America’s most beloved and revered president in history. The movie does an excellent job of showing the weight that Lincoln carried on him as the country tore itself apart, charting a course that he knew in his heart would make America the “more perfect union” we strive for by pushing us down the path of greater equality, even as the Confederacy opposed it. Unsurprisingly, Day-Lewis is phenomenal in the role, a commanding performance that is arguably one of his career-bests.
5. Dave (1993)
And we’re back in the 90s. Similar to The American President, Dave is a rom-com, this time with Kevin Kline in the role as Dave. Not President David Something-or-Other, but just Dave. Dave Kovic, that is. Dave is an ordinary guy who just happens to bear an uncanny resemblance to President Bill Mitchell, a philandering sleazeball more interested in power and cheating on his wife than running the country. However, when Mitchell has a stroke while sleeping with a secretary, Dave is thrust into the position of pretending to be the president in order to avoid a national scandal while the president recovers. The conniving Chief of Staff Bob Alexander (Frank Langella) plans to use Dave’s position of weakness to elevate his own standing. But Dave finds he actually likes the job, making America a better place – and falling in love with the First Lady, Ellen Mitchell. Then again, who wouldn’t fall in love with Sigourney Weaver?