Movies – 10 Incredible Movies About US Presidents, Ranked From Least To Most Historically Accurate
Throughout the years, there have been several movies featuring real-life presidents as characters. Many of the movies were about controversial moments in the president’s history, but others feature the president as just a regular character in the movie.
These movies run the gamut from award-caliber movies from some of the best directors in film history to movies that are fun exercises in filmmaking. However, what most fans have noticed is that many of these movies take a creative license with the truth behind the president’s life and legacy, while others try to remain as close to the truth as possible.
10 Dick (1999)
In 1999, Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams starred in the comedy movie Dick. The movie is about the Watergate scandal and the forced resignation of Richard Nixon.
However, this is a completely fictional account of the events, including making Dunst and Williams 15-year-old friends who accidentally become Deep Throat, the legendary figure that outed what Nixon was doing and helped expose his crimes. Dan Hedaya plays Richard Nixon in this movie that only hints at real events.
9 Amistad (1997)
In 1997, Steven Spielberg directed Amistad. Spielberg has always tried to work on movies that teach important historical lessons that the world needs to hear in between his more mainstream popcorn fare. In Amistad, Spielberg directed a great movie with some deep issues, as it presented the white savior trope in a story of the slave ship La Amistad.
Nigel Hawthorne starred as President Martin Van Buren, while Anthony Hopkins was former President John Quincy Adams, who came out of retirement to help defend the slaves. The movie was great, but the historical inaccuracies have limited its long-term appeal.
8 JFK (1991)
Oliver Stone directed JFK in 1991, his first of three movies about former United States presidents. However, this movie was not about Kennedy himself, but about the trials following his assassination in Dallas.
Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) tries to take the case to court to prove there was a conspiracy behind the assassination. This was an all-star affair, with news footage showing Kennedy in real life. However, the movie is based on conspiracy theories that have never been proven.
7 W (2008)
Oliver Stone told the story of George W. Bush right after the president’s second term ended. No president was put into a biopic like this so quickly after their presidency.
Josh Brolin starred as Bush, and in a shocking turn of events, Stone went lightly on the president, telling his story from the college days to his leaving office. While Jeb Bush claims the family dynamics were not accurate, much of the movie’s stories came from non-fiction sources and news articles.
6 The Butler (2013)
Lee Daniels directed The Butler in 2013, based on the real-life story of Eugene Allen, who worked in the White House for decades. What makes this movie so interesting is that it shows several presidents that Allen worked under throughout his career as a butler.
Robin Williams is Dwight D. Eisenhower, James Marsden is John F. Kennedy, Liev Schreiber is Lyndon B. Johnson, John Cusack is Richard Nixon, and Alan Rickman is Ronald Reagan. As for its accuracy, the movie faced criticism for Reagan’s portrayal and his beliefs concerning the civil rights movement.
5 Thirteen Days (2000)
In 2000, Thirteen Days told the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. In the movie, Bruce Greenwood stars as John F. Kennedy, while Steven Culp appears as his younger brother Robert F. Kennedy.
Kevin Costner is the lead star, playing the top White House assistant Kenneth P. O’Donnell as the U.S. government had to decide how to deal with the crisis. The movie got a lot right, including adding recently de-classified information, but making O’Donnell the key figure was purely fictional.
4 Nixon (1995)
Another Oliver Stone movie arrived in 1995 with Nixon, the United States President with more movie appearances than almost any other. This was more like W than JFK, but it narrowed the focus, dealing mostly with his time in office.
Anthony Hopkins starred as Richard Nixon in the movie. While the Nixon family called his portrayal “reprehensible,” much of the film was pulled from actual sources and books about the former president. However, there are moments where Stone misrepresents Nixon’s attitude about things that keep it from being completely accurate.
3 Frost/Nixon (2008)
In 2008, Ron Howard directed Frost/Nixon, a movie based on the stage play of the same name. Michael Sheen stars as British television personality David Frost, the man who swung the sought-after interview with Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) after he resigned as the United States President.
The interview itself was highly accurate, as this was on television when it happened. However, there was creative license taken with the behind-the-scenes lead-in to the interview.
2 Lincoln (2012)
Steven Spielberg enjoyed a high level of success with his 2012 movie about Abraham Lincoln. In Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis starred as the president in a movie that showed his battles after the Civil War to bring the country back together and end slavery.
Author Ronald White said that the movie was not wholly accurate, but it did a great job at blending the history of what really happened with the dramatic needs of a movie. As for Day-Lewis, White said that his portrayal of Lincoln was very accurate.
1 All the President’s Men (1976)
All the President’s Men was another movie about Richard Nixon, but this one focused on the two reporters who broke the story of Nixon’s crimes and brought it to the nation.
While some movies about U.S. Presidents are about dramatizing events, All the President’s Men is a movie that puts realism over all else. The movie is studied to this day for aspiring journalists in college. William Goldman wrote the script based on the book by reporter Bob Woodward, and it was one of the most accurate representations of Watergate in history.
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