Vote: The Most Washington Movie Ever Tournament, Part 1

Welcome to Washingtonian’s inaugural movie bracket, where we work to determine what’s the Most Washington Movie Ever. Herewith, your first 16 contenders. You can vote on this set until Monday, February 23, at 11:59 pm. A new round of voting begins Tuesday. For the full slate of competitors, click here.

Remember: You’re not voting for the best movie, you’re voting for the most Washington movie–the one you most recognize your city in.

1. Movie: All the President’s Men

Year: 1976

Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford

Plot: Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein get tipped off to, well, you know.

What’s Washington About It: You saw it in seventh-grade social studies class and now you’re blogging about cats, because that’s what journalism is all about.

16. Movie: First Kid

Year: 1996

Stars: Sinbad, Brock Pierce

Plot: The president’s teenage son gets kidnapped, Secret Service Agent Sinbad rescues him.

What’s Washington About It: Suburban malls are confusing.


8. Movie: Head of State

Year: 2003

Stars: Chris Rock, Bernie Mac

Plot: Democrats nominate Ninth Ward Alderman Chris Rock for President after standard-bearer dies.

What’s Washington About It: Ninth Ward? Did DC absorb Prince George’s County? Alderman? Have these people ever read the Home Rule Charter?

9. Movie: Dave

Year: 1993

Stars: Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver

Plot: Lousy president is felled by a stroke, administration hires a do-gooding look-alike to fill in.

What’s Washington About It: It perpetuated a myth that beyond the White House, Washington was this polite, podunk town full of noble do-gooders instead of a city packed with nasty social climbers.


5. Movie: Wag The Dog

Year: 1997

Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeNiro

Plot: Spin doctors cook up a phony war to distract from a presidential sex scandal.

What’s Washington About It: This literally came out a month after Bill Clinton ordered those air strikes against the Sudanese pharmaceutical factory.

12. Movie: The Contender

Year: 2000

Stars: Jeff Bridges, Joan Allen

Plot: Senator Joan Allen is nominated to fill a vacancy in the vice-presidency, but gets savaged by the Republican opposition in the process.

What’s Washington About It: Ready for Hillary?


4. Movie: The American President

Year: 1995

Stars: Michael Douglas, Annette Benning

Plot: Nattering screenwriter lays the groundwork for a critically successful but very pedantic network drama.

What’s Washington About It: The dialogue that didn’t make the final cut became the first season of The West Wing, and that’s why you volunteered for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign.

13. Movie: Thirteen Days

Year: 2000

Stars: Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood

Plot: The Cuban Missile Crisis happens.

What’s Washington About It: In the words of Christopher Moltisanti: “That was real? I saw that movie. I thought it was bullshit.”


6. Movie: Dick

Year: 1999

Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Williams

Plot: Teenagers stumble upon the Watergate break-in, leverage it for White House internships, and become Deep Throat.

What’s Washington About It: Interns idolize their boss, only to fall out of love, inevitably.

11. Movie: Nixon

Year: 1995

Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Joan Allen

Plot: Richard Nixon’s life happens.

What’s Washington About It: Our most cinematic president shows just how claustrophobic the White House really is.


3. Movie: Dr. Strangelove

Year: 1964

Stars: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott

Plot: Paranoid Cold War administration launches nuclear war against Soviet Union.

What’s Washington About It: Committed political protesters keep drilling for when it becomes reality.

14. Movie: Absolute Power

Year: 1997

Stars: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman

Plot: Aging jewel thief Eastwood witnesses President Hackman’s bodyguards kill his lover, and decides he must expose the truth.

What’s Washington About It: The president is a philanderer, so let’s take that to the conspiratorial extremes.


7. Movie: Murder At 1600

Year: 1997

Stars: Wesley Snipes, Diane Lane

Plot: MPD Detective Wesley Snipes investigates a murder at the White House.

What’s Washington About It: There’s a 90s-appropriate subplot about Snipes’s apartment building being torn down for a surface-level parking lot.

10. Movie: The Butler

Year: 2013

Stars: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey

Plot: Retired White House butler recalls serving six presidents.

What’s Washington About It: Based on the life of former White House butler Eugene Allen, who lived on Georgia Avenue, Northwest.


2. Movie: Lincoln

Year: 2012

Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field

Plot: War-weary president struggles against anti-abolitionist Democrats in his fight to end slavery.

What’s Washington About It: Like many Lincoln biographies, this one was met with accusations of embellishment.

15. Movie: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Year: 2012

Stars: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper

Plot: War-weary president struggles against vampires in his fight to end slavery and vampirism.

What’s Washington About It: Like many Lincoln biographies, this one was met with accusations of embellishment.


Illustration and bracket by Brooke Hatfield.

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