News & Politics

The Most Washington Movie Ever: A Mostly Predictable Final Four

The remaining movies look a lot like lists of top political films, which is kind of the opposite of what this was all about.

Bracket and logo by Brooke Hatfield.

Suppose that in her administration of the Great Burger Battle, my colleague Anna Spiegel had added McDonald’s and Burger King to the mix of regionally beloved hamburger shops. Most McDonald’s and Burger King locations around here are locally owned franchises, but they’re not exactly local favorites. Still, there’s power in ubiquity: many more people have tasted a Big Mac than a Ray’s Hell Burger. If Spiegel matched up Michael Landrum’s Arlington restaurant with the Golden Arches, would Ronald win in a landslide by sheer force of presence?

In the Most Washington Movie Ever bracket, All the President’s Men and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington continue to obliterate anything thrown in their paths. Any hope of a DC CabDie Hard 2 final died long ago, and now, as we come to the last four movies remaining, a final squaring off between the Woodward-and-Bernstein adaptation and Frank Capra’s anti-infrastructure hooey seems inevitable. These movies might feature highly on any list of great political films, but this project—and this feels like the 15th or 16th reminder—has been a test of these movies’ “Washington-ness.” But perhaps Washingtonian readers really do think “Washington movie” means a celebration of a clueless rube hell-bent on replacing a critical dam-building project that would create thousands of jobs with a campsite for privileged suburban kids to use a few days a year. That’s where this thing seems headed right now.

All the President’s Men trampled Lincoln to win the “Presidents, Fake and Fictionalized” quadrant, while Mr. Smith stampeded out of the “Blind Ambition” region with a rout of Broadcast News. The “Secrets and Lies” quadrant ended with a pair of military thrillers when A Few Good Men beat No Way Out. There is at least one interesting pick remaining, though: Thank You for Smoking made it out of the “Death and Destruction” category by finally putting an end to Breach‘s Cinderella run.

In the semifinals of the Most Washington Movie Ever, it’s All the President’s Men versus A Few Good Men on one side, and Thank You for Smoking against Mr. Smith Goes to Washington on the other. Even though you’ve already failed your city by not advancing DC Cab to the final four, try to remember that you’re voting on these films’ Washington-ness, and not their political savvy. Polls close at 9 PM tonight, and the final match will be revealed Tuesday morning.

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.