Now that the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention have both taken place, the final leg of the race to The White House has begun. As a result of those political party events, we know that the world will wake up on November 9th, 2016 to the news that the United States of America has elected either a beauty-pageant-judging businessman, or the first U.S woman, to be the next ‘Leader Of The Free World.’
Whichever way that particular cookie crumbles, it will be a globally historic moment. Gender politics and toxic campaign smears aside, by January 2017, the most powerful nation on the planet will be run by either the single most qualified person, or a person that isn’t really qualified at all. In those terms, the world stands on a precipice, and the winds of change are approaching.
The Oval Office has always been fertile ground for narrative fiction – some of it spun by real-life Commanders-In-Chief themselves. But some of the best examples can be found in film, among the vast array of depictions of the U.S President committed to celluloid, and displayed on our cinema screens.
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The American Presidency has spawned fictional and historical drama, action, science fiction, and romantic comedy. It has led to scenes that number among the most jingoistic and inspirational ever created. It stirs within us a sense of pride in our systems of political freedom, and a desire to be awed by whoever takes that solemn oath.
But, the U.S Presidency – fictional or non-fictional – can also be divisive. It can be cracked open to reveal disturbing levels of corruption. It can lead to assassinations and armed conflict. It can give rise to conspiracy theories that far outlast those present at the time. In short, it is almost surprising that we have not seen more of the Presidential Office when we go to the movies.
So, in honour of the political crossroads at which Americans around the world currently find themselves, let’s take a look at some of the best Presidential performances in film.