So, if you haven’t been living under a rock for the past six months, you know that Election Day is coming up really soon. Like less–than–two–weeks soon. November 6, to be exact. You would also know that the youngest Americans, aged 18 to 29—A.K.A. us—historically have the lowest voter turnout, with less than half showing up to the polls in the 2016 presidential election. But don’t let this discourage you because millennials were also the only age group to report increased voter turnout compared to 2012. 

I’ll be the first to admit that this election season hasn’t been the easiest to endure. Our current political climate has been one hell of a roller coaster ride, filled with absurd twists and disappointing turns that I definitely did not sign up for. But alas, there are two things that have helped me stay positive and motivated this election season:

  1. The notion that one vote does have the power to elicit lasting change.
  2. Movies. Specifically, election–themed movies.

And lucky for you, I’ve put together a list of the five best election–themed movies for you to pick from.

Lincoln (2012)

The title says it all with this one. The 2012 film follows the life of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, played by Daniel Day–Lewis, at the height of the Civil War, as he harnesses his political skill and compassionate spirit to end the deadly debacle and abolish slavery through the 13th Amendment. This movie captures a pivotal moment of progression in American history, and although (spoiler alert) Lincoln’s tragic assassination concludes the film, I can only hope that our current President is able to learn from it or maybe even follow in his predecessor’s footsteps.

Election (1999)

This film is set in suburban Nebraska and stars Reese Witherspoon as Tracy Flick, an overachieving, Wharton–esque high school student running for student body president in her school’s class election. She faces an obstacle in the form of a popular social studies teacher, Jim McAllister, played by Matthew Broderick, as he attempts to sabotage her campaign because he doesn’t believe she deserves to win. This biting political satire will have you questioning the dark, behind–the–scenes nature of American politics and laughing at Witherspoon’s witty and charming character all at the same time.

Ides of March (2011)

George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Evan Rachel Wood star in this gloomy film about a social climbing junior campaign manager, Stephen Meyers (Gosling), who, in a series of twisted and secretive events, manages to strip the integrity and honesty from his boss, Governor Mike Morris (Clooney), during his presidential campaign. Once you get past this movie’s somber and all–too–relatable premise, you’re better able to focus on Ryan Gosling—in a suit. That’ll make anyone want to vote.

The Campaign (2012)

If you’re looking for a level of comedic crudity and ridiculousness that matches most political debates today, this is the movie for you. Will Ferrell and Zack Galifianakis play opposing North Carolinian Congressional candidates, Cam Brady and Marty Huggins. Chaos and hilarity ensue as their campaigns progress, exaggerating every political stereotype in the book. Cam has a breakthrough and remembers the true purpose of a politician—to help people—and joins forces with Marty to imprison corrupt businessmen.

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

I saved the best for last. In this American cult classic, Jon Heder plays Napoleon, an awkward high school student who forms an unlikely friendship with Mexican transfer student Pedro Sanchez, played by Efren Ramirez. When Pedro decides to run for class president, they join forces to secure both the presidential win and a standing ovation for the most iconic dance number of the decade. Napoleon’s deadpan persona and Pedro’s underdog victory make this movie the perfect form of comedic relief in a tense election season.


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