Lawrence O'Donnell Picks Five Movies You Must See To Prepare For The 2012 Presidential Race

Lawrence O'Donnell Picks 5 Essential Movies for 2012 Race

So Mitt Romney has been nominated as the Republican party's presidential candidate. To quote Robert Redford's money line from The Candidate, "What do we do now?"  Even if you plan to watch his extremely fit, catfish-wrangling running mate Paul Ryan speak tonight and Mr. Bain Capital himself on Thursday, there's a big holiday weekend to wade through before President Obama and the Democrats stage their own dog-and-donkey show beginning Sept. 4 in Charlotte, NC.

In other words, it's a good time to watch some good movies, and, given that the 2012 presidential smackdown is about to go into overdrive, Movieline asked one of the sharpest political analysts we know,  Lawrence O'Donnell, host of MSNBC's The Last Word  and an Emmy-winning former producer and writer for The West Wing, to pick five essential movies for our readers to watch in preparation for the 2012 race. His choices are after the break. Now do your homework. 

1.  The Candidate (1972):  If you watch only one movie about American politics, it must be The Candidate. The movie is 40 years old but remains flawlessly up to date and tells you everything you need to know about how campaigns really work.

2.  The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979):  Alan Alda wrote and starred in this 1979 movie that shows the reality of life for a senator and includes a performance by Meryl Streep at the beginning of her brilliant career.

Lawrence O'Donnell Movie Picks3. Wag the Dog (1997):  Barry Levinson’s brilliant and funny imagining of the collision of politics, sex scandals and war includes hysterical and thoroughly real performances by Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro and Denis Leary.

4.  Election (1999):  Election wants to show how bitter, nasty and cynical politics can be — so, of course, it is about the election of a high-school class president. Reese Witherspoon’s stunning 1999 performance led to much bigger offers for her.

5. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939):  Frank Capra’s film is the first important entry in American political film history.  Jimmy Stewart’s performance is indelible and this is the only movie ever shot in the US Senate.

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  • Frank DiGiacomo says:

    Lawrence, I have to ask: Why no "Ides of March"? My guess is that "The Seduction of Joe Tynan" is the, um, seminal version.

  • Michael McCroskey says:

    What? 2016 not on the list? Shame shame shame

  • Wally Leitel says:

    Wally Leitel,
    I think Robert Redford in "The Candidate" is maybe the best ever political film. I am not so sure anyone could have made the film anywhere near as great as it is with Mr. Redford in it. He is (and always since his start in acting) has the stuff that men such as Spencer Tracy, Paul Newman, Gregory Peck has. I have never seen him in a film but I must go back and see it again and again...the guy is a master at what he does, Paul Newman in an interview once said (re "The Sting" they did together and Redfords acting in general), "He is something to watch."
    Well said Paul Newman...who had the same effect on me as Redford does.