FilmNovember 1, 2012 at 5:24 am

Election 2012: A Cinematic Guide

One man will prove victorious in just five days. Check out Street’s favorite election–themed films and the lessons the candidates can learn from them.

THE CAMPAIGN (2012)
Will Ferrell and Zach Galifinakis respectively star as an incumbent North Carolina congressman and his goofy, inexperienced challenger in this comedy from this past summer. This well–received satire even has a cameo from Uggie, canine star of “The Artist”!
The Lesson: The obvious candidate isn’t always the winner! Super inspirational for Green Party candidate Jill Stein!

THE IDES OF MARCH (2011)
George Clooney is the Pennsylvania governor running for president. It’s not like there’s any chance he wouldn’t get elected (swoon), but Ryan Gosling is still on board as the junior campaign manager. Chaos and rumors plague the campaign and Gosling’s character questions his ethics in this political drama that Clooney directed himself.
Lesson: Screw political ethics, it’s Clooney and Gosling. They’ve got our vote.

ELECTION (1999)
Perhaps the most telling political film of all revolves around a simple high school student council election. A pre–Elle Woods Reese Witherspoon is at her best as Tracy Flick, a precocious, competitive student who is desperate to be elected student body president. Matthew Broderick is the history teacher supervising the election and is not Tracy’s biggest fan.
The Lesson: It’s better to play fair like Elle Woods did in her murder case than to scheme ruthlessly like poor T–Flick.

WAG THE DOG (1997)
Dustin Hoffman is a Hollywood producer hired to construct a fake war between the United States and Albania by a Washington spin–doctor played by Robert De Niro. It sounds far fetched, but in this Oscar–nominated dark comedy, it’s the logical distraction for the public when the sitting President is caught in a sex scandal.
The Lesson: The best way to cover up a scandal is hiring Kirsten Dunst to play a fake Albanian refugee.

PRIMARY COLORS (1998)
This political drama is a roman a clef for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, based on a novel by journalist Joe Klein, who covered the real–life campaign. John Travolta and Emma Thompson are the Bill and Hill equivalents, with Kathy freakin’ Bates in an Oscar–nominated role as their PR rep.
The Lesson: Keep your campaign clean unless you want John Travolta playing you onscreen.

GAME CHANGE (2012)
No one thought Tina Fey’s uncanny “SNL” Sarah Palin impression could be topped, but Julianne Moore recently won an Emmy for her portrayal of John McCain’s 2008 running mate in this HBO political film. Though Russian neighbor Sarah dismissed the movie as “false,” many have praised the accuracy (including the campaign’s senior strategist, Steve Schmidt, played onscreen by Woody Harrelson).
The Lesson: What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Julianne in Palin’s lipstick.

 
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