10 Political Films and TV Shows Worth Streaming as John Bolton’s Memoir Hits Bookstores
“The Room Where It Happened,” John Bolton’s tell-all memoir about the Trump White House, is due on bookstore shelves on Tuesday.
While the former national security adviser declined to testify before the House impeachment inquiry — he later said he would testify in the Senate impeachment trial if subpoenaed — he wasn’t shy about sharing his thoughts on the printed page.
Hollywood isn’t afraid to tackle politics and political corruption, either — as these 10 films and TV shows illustrate.
1. All the Way (HBO)
The title is borrowed from his election slogan: “All the Way with LBJ.” It’s a momentous look at President Johnson’s fight to pass the Civil Rights Act, as he navigates pressures from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and demands from Southern Democrats who refuse to back his agenda and threaten to leave the party. Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) is amazing as the wily politician who wants to be a force for good.
2. House of Cards (Netflix)
Claire (Robin Wright) and Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) desperately want the White House — and they will stop at nothing to get it. The six seasons of machinations on Capitol Hill are riveting and hypnotic; the show is a primer on just how dirty politics can be — regardless of party or gender. The stakes are high and everyone plays to win.
3. Vice (Hulu)
Many insiders claim Vice President Dick Cheney wielded the real power during the George W. Bush presidency, including manipulating W into the Iraq War for profit. Worth noting: Cheney was the guy assigned to select a VP for Bush — and he picked himself. Christian Bale plays Cheney in this biopic.
4. The Politician (Netflix)
Payton Hobart (Ben Platt) has one goal: to be President of the United States. Season one charts his high-school years, but season two of the Ryan Murphy series has him vie for a New York State Senate seat. Now, he’s waging war against the incumbent (Judith Light) and her take-no-prisoners chief-of-staff (Bette Midler). Just how far will Payton go to realize his obsession?
5. The Death of Stalin (Netflix)
This dark political comedy is set in the aftermath of the Russian dictator’s death. How does a system built on a cult of personality function after its leader dies? Written-directed by Armando Iannucci, who created “Veep,” it borrows from historical events to underscore how capricious, incompetent and maniacal the power-hungry can be.
6. The Great Dictator (Amazon)
Charlie Chaplin’s political satire is one of his talking-picture masterpieces. It is a send-up of Hitler and Mussolini, but behind the 1941 parody is an ominous warning about the fate of European Jews.
7. All the King’s Men (Amazon)
Based on Huey Long, the American populist who controlled Louisiana during the Depression, the 1949 film won the Oscar for Best Picture. Broderick Crawford plays Willie Stark (Long) with intensity. Long rebuilt his state, pushed for a “Share the Wealth” platform in 1934 and railed against the excesses of big business, successfully tapping into class resentment. But he was also controversial, often derided as a demagogue and later assassinated.
8. Get Me Roger Stone (Netflix)
A corrupt conservative political operative and Trump insider, Roger Stone was convicted of various felonies and sentenced to 40 months in prison. The colorful rogue is the subject of a documentary that chronicles his rise to political infamy, starting with Richard Nixon’s dirty tricks.
9. Lincoln (Amazon)
Steven Spielberg’s stirring drama is about the last four months of President Lincoln’s life, as he pushes for passage of the 13th Amendment making slavery unconstitutional. Daniel Day-Lewis plays a cunning, progressive leader who oversees a nation in chaos, in the waning days of the Civil War. But it’s also a primer on how legislation is enacted behind the scenes — and what it means to be on the right side of history.
10. The West Wing (Netflix)
Aaron Sorkin’s seven-season political drama delivered the ultimate president — smart, compassionate, principled Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen). His staff is on the ball and loaded with moral conviction. With an extraordinary supporting cast, including Stockard Channing and Allison Janney, “West Wing” delivers the White House of our dreams.