The 10 Greatest Performances in Political Thrillers
If The Ides of March has taught us anything before its release, it's that the political thriller is a fabulous forum to act well, build a surprising character and look amazing doing it. The genre of "political thriller" is an ill-defined one with many subgenres (including "supernatural political thriller"!), but it's always an opportunity for great characters to emerge through intriguing twists, red herrings and explosive climaxes. Movieline ranks the 10 best performances in the genre after the jump; please abort any nuclear wars you may have started before reading on.
10. Joan Allen in The Contender (2000)
Joan Allen scored her third Academy Award nomination as Laine Henson, the shrewd vice presidential candidate who is stalwart in protecting her past, even if exposing it would clear her of damning allegations. In this climactic scene, Henson opens up to the president (Jeff Bridges) and scintillates with her straightforward morality.
9. James Stewart in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
James Stewart frequently played deep, aloof protagonists who found themselves in dizzying circumstances in Hitchcock's movies, and The Man Who Knew Too Much is no exception. As Dr. Ben McKenna, whose son has been kidnapped in a predictably crazy plot, Stewart finds himself trying to save the life of a head of state at London's Royal Albert Hall. Stewart's hustle as we await the all-important crash of cymbals makes for one of Hitchcock's most thrilling climaxes. You can stop singing "Que, Sera, Sera" now, Doris Day.
8. Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon (2008)
It may be a slightly arch impersonation, but Frank Langella's performance as Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon required a plainspoken charisma that the actor brings thoroughly. All of Michael Sheen's reactive mugging is justified thanks to Langella's offbeat provocations.