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Top 25 movies on American politics

Friday - 11/2/2012, 9:01am  ET

Mr Smith goes to Washington (AP)
Find out where 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' is on the list. (AP)

Political Cinema

WTOP Film Critic Jason Fraley recalls the best political movies.

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Jason Fraley, WTOP film critic

WASHINGTON - Election Day is just four days away. And while "The West Wing" (1999- 2006) is the undisputed champ of political television, the silver screen is a much harder call.

What is the greatest American political movie of all time?

I suppose you could argue that all films are political in that they each project a certain world view, whether it's "Ben-Hur" (1959), "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962) or "Philadelphia" (1993).

Our mission is to count down the best movies about the American political system itself. Thus films must meet several criteria:

  1. This list only includes fiction films, not documentaries. No Ken Burns, Michael Moore or John Sullivan.

  2. This list only includes American movies, as this list is gearing up for the U.S. presidential elections. No masterpieces about foreign politics, from "Z" (1969)" to "Downfall" (2004).

  3. This list doesn't include CIA films of the Tom Clancy ilk, meaning no "Patriot Games," "The Bourne Identity" or "Argo."

  4. These are only films where the main focus is politics. No masterpieces where politics appears in just several scenes, like "The Godfather" (1972), which delivers cinema's best quote on politics as Diane Keaton says, "Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don't have men killed," to which Al Pacino responds, "Oh? Who's being naive, Kay?"

The votes are cast, the ballots are counted, and no hanging chads are in sight.

Without further ado, here are the Top 25 American Political Movies of All Time.

Read more from WTOP Film Critic Jason Fraley by clicking "Fraley on Film" under the "Living" tab above, following @JasonFraleyWTOP on Twitter, and checking out his blog, The Film Spectrum.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)