News & Politics

The Most Washington Movie Ever: A Not-So-Elite Eight

DC Cab didn't make it through the third round. How is this possible?

The objective of this project was to determine the “most Washington” movie. That does not mean the movie set in Washington of the highest cinematic quality. It means, as has been stressed so many times, the film that most accurately captures what it’s like to live or work in DC.

Sadly, as the fourth round begins, it appears this message never took hold with anyone voting on this bracket. How can that judgment be made so assuredly? Because of the sudden absence of DC Cab, the top seed in the “Secrets and Lies” quadrant and the No. 1 entry overall, which was dispatched in the round of 16 by No Way Out. This is unacceptable. Nothing against the ably crafted Kevin Costner-starring naval thriller, but this is a travesty. Clearly, you did not heed how DC Cab was presented in the first round, so here’s a reminder, if only in hindsight: “If DC Cab doesn’t make it to the final four at least, you’ll have failed this magazine, but, more importantly, you’ll have failed your city.”

But, whatever. A disaster like this is why Washingtonian printed another version of this bracket in the April issue, so you can fill it out at home and imagine a world in which DC Cab, St. Elmo’s Fire, Dick, Die Hard 2, Logan’s Run, The More the Merrier, and all the other films that were dismissed too early make deeper runs.

The “Secrets and Lies” quadrant thus concludes with a face-off between—sigh—No Way Out and A Few Good Men, which knocked off Minority Report. The “Death and Destruction” region is much more encouraging: Thank You for Smoking advanced over weak No. 1 seed Independence Day, while Breach pulled off its greatest upset yet, sneaking past The Exorcist.

Meanwhile, the two movies for which people assume they are required to vote—Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and All the President’s Men—continue their buzzsaw-like treatment of the competition. Mr. Smith, after mowing down Talk to Me, advances to the final match of the “Blind Ambition” quadrant where it will face Broadcast News, which upset Being There. (Perhaps thanks to the subliminal assistance of the ongoing saga of Brian Williams.) And in the White House corner, the Woodstien adaptation finally sent The American President back to the bargain bin where most Aaron Sorkin projects belong, while Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln biopic edged out Dr. Strangelove.

You can’t vote for DC Cab anymore, so think hard about the remaining films’ Washington-ness before you vote. These polls close at 9 PM.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.