A couple weeks ago, Washingtonian published a bracket of 64 movies about our region and the people who inhabit it, with the goal of getting readers to settle on determining the “most Washington movie ever.” Remember: This not an assessment of cinematic quality, but a test of each film’s “Washington-ness”—the degree to which they understand DC and its residents. Still, the first round yielded few upsets. Sentimental favorites and unambiguous classics mostly topped their quirkier challengers, especially in the quadrant squaring off movies set in or around the White House.
The top seed in this group, All the President’s Men, took down the 1996 Sinbad-led “classic” First Kid like a buzzsaw. Though beloved by several Washingtonian staffers, First Kid got walloped by nearly 78 percentage points. The split between two Abraham Lincoln biopics was nearly as gory, with Steven Spielberg’s stately Lincoln driving a garlic-crusted stake through Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Washingtonian readers, it appears, are very firm when it comes to opinions on fictionalized presentations of Oval Office shenangans. The Bill Clintonian farce Wag the Dog trounced the Hillary Clintonian political thriller The Contender, while Dr. Strangelove nuked Clint Eastwood’s conspiratorial caper Absolute Power. The Butler, a decade-spanning biopic based on the life of real-life White House butler Eugene Allen, easily toppled Murder at 1600, which did not put up much of a fight, even with its B-plot about surface-level parking lots. Back on the Nixon front, readers widely chose Oliver Stone’s claustrophobic biopic Nixon, rather than the cynically peppy Dick. And movies written by Aaron Sorkin launched a three-for-three run: Cuban Missle Crisis flashback Thirteen Days was no match for The American President’s Democratic idealism. Ninth-seeded Dave overwhelmed eighth-seeded Head of State.
Now it’s time for the round of 32. In the presidential quadrant, it’s All the President’s Men versus Dave, Wag the Dog versus The American President, Nixon versus Dr. Strangelove, and The Butler versus Lincoln. It’s not about what movie should have won the most Oscars, it’s about what movie gets this city most accurately. Voting closes Tuesday, March 10 at 11:59 PM.