Monitor Picks

Ahead of Super Tuesday, we vote for our favorite candidates for the best election dramas.

Courtesy of Barnes & Noble
Courtesy of Barnes & Noble

Ahead of "Super Tuesday," a 24-state contest likely to determine the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees, here's a brief list of our favorite campaign-related movies (and two television series).

All the King's men

Skip the ineffectual 2006 remake with Sean Penn and go straight for the 1949 original version of Robert Penn Warren's novel in which self-styled man of the people Willie Stark (Broderick Crawford) whips up voters with messianic fervor to win the populist vote in a rural district. It's what happens to Willie in the aftermath of the election, however, that gives this classic its unexpected sting.

Tanner '88

This revered HBO series, written by Gary Trudeau and directed by Robert Altman, followed the trials and tribulations of Jack Tanner, a Democratic congressman from Michigan. Its achievement was to expose the theater of the absurd that surrounds a presidential aspirant. Sample quote, from Jack's son: "Dad? USA Today is on the other line. They want to know, if you could be a fruit or a vegetable, which one would you be?"

The West Wing

NBC's The West Wing was an unabashed valentine to serious-minded politicians, but the election campaign that ran through the final season was a vision of how important and vital politics can be when conducted by thoughtful candidates. Calling Aaron Sorkin...


Before "Monster's Ball," but well after "Bonnie and Clyde," Halle Berry and Warren Beatty made satire and sweet hip-hop in this political comedy about a senator with a fatal weakness: He always tells the truth. Whoever said white politicians can't rap has clearly not seen "Bulworth."

The Candidate

This 1972 film, which won Jeremy Larner an Oscar for Best Writing, applies a documentary style to the fictional campaign for a California senate seat by Bill McKay (Robert Redford). The son of a party heavyweight, Bill runs largely on his shaggy-blond looks – and with an off-the-cuff style that he clearly doubts will get him elected. The late Peter Boyle is outstanding as his campaign manager.

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