It seems that the end of this exasperating election season is mercifully in sight. And as partisans delude themselves with grandeur, the rest of us brace for impact. In the meantime I thought it would be fun to slip away from the curdled political landscape and look at some of my favorite movie presidents. It goes without saying that the movies have used the office of the presidency in a myriad of fun ways and here are some of my favorites. In light of that I wouldn’t consider this the definitive list. But there’s no denying that these five movie presidents are most certainly phenomenal.￼
#5 – President Benjamin Asher
Ok don’t laugh, but this one is admittedly a guilty pleasure. Aaron Eckhart’s President Benjamin Asher was a key part of the corny but fun shoot-em-up “Olympus Has Fallen” and the best part of its forgettable sequel “London Has Fallen”. Eckhart ends up being a great fit, bringing what the role needs most – physicality and believability. And that’s saying something in movies where believability is more-or-less tossed out the window.￼
#4 – President Thomas J. Whitmore
I mean President Whitmore from “Independence Day” has to be on the list right? I mean a leader who can give that kind of speech during a global alien invasion is pretty much a lock. Bill Pullman’s Whitmore not only says the right things but he puts his money where his mouth his, entering the fight against the invading alien forces and saving the earth as we know it. If that doesn’t earn his a second term nothing can.
#3 – President James Marshall
This pick could have easily been #1 on my list. Harrison Ford became everyone’s president when “Air Force One” came out back in 1997. Ford is terrific as President Marshall – tough, determined, and not too fond of hijackers taking over his plane. Don’t believe me? Just ask Gary Oldman. There’s a vulnerability to Marshall but also a firm resolve to save his staff members at 35,000 feet. Who wouldn’t cast their ballot for a guy like that?
#2 – President Merkin Muffley
I make no apologies for having President Merkin Muffley from “Dr. Strangelove” this high on my list. In fact he could’ve easily taken the top spot just for his hysterical phone call with Dimitri, his Russian counterpart. President Muffley is one of three parts Peter Sellers plays in this Stanley Kubrick classic and it’s easily my favorite. His sly mix of humor and sincerity really anchors this 1964 Cold War black comedy and watching his War Room jostling never gets old.
#1 – President Abraham Lincoln
For a while I was tempted to limit my list to only fictional movie presidents. But during the entire time I was putting this thing together, I couldn’t quit thinking about what may be the preeminent portrayal of a president ever put on screen. Daniel Day-Lewis’ Oscar-winning performance in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” is a master class on bringing detail and utter commitment to a role. It’s stunning work from one of our greatest living actors.
And there is my list. What do you think? What would have made your list? Please let me hear from you in the comments section below.￼