Political Prowess: 15 Movies that Showcase the Best in “Politicking”

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When you think of successful storytelling on TV shows like Survivor, Succession, and Bridgerton, what do they have in common? One fan of this genre describes it as “politicking” — the mind games, allies, rumors, deceptions, power plays, and blindsides that these stories entail.

Looking for the best movies with similar dynamics, they visited a movie suggestions forum for recommendations. Here are 15 of the best movies to portray “politicking” in its many forms.

1. Wag the Dog (1997)


wag the dog 1
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

In Wag the Dog, a spin doctor and a Hollywood producer join forces to create a fictitious war and divert public attention away from a presidential scandal. Through a web of deception, manipulation, and media control, they orchestrate a complex political charade to sway public opinion and maintain their grip on power.

2. Circle (2015)

The Circle movie
Image Credit: STX Entertainment.

Circle presents a unique take on politicking as it unfolds as a psychological thriller. A group of strangers finds themselves trapped in a mysterious chamber, where they are forced to vote and eliminate each other one by one.

As alliances form, secrets are revealed, and power dynamics shift, the characters engage in a tense battle of persuasion and manipulation to outwit their opponents and survive.

3. Thirteen Days (2000)

Thirteen Days
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

Thirteen Days recounts the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, providing a gripping depiction of the intense political negotiations and strategic maneuvering behind closed doors.

As the world teeters on the brink of nuclear war, President John F. Kennedy and his advisors navigate the delicate balance of diplomacy, military pressure, and covert operations to avert disaster.

4. The Departed (2006)

The Departed Matt Damon Jack Nicholson
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Set in the gritty underworld of Boston, The Departed follows an intricate tale of loyalty, betrayal, and power struggles between the police and the Irish mob.

As an undercover cop and a mole within the criminal organization try to identify each other, the film masterfully portrays the complex game of cat and mouse, showcasing the dangerous politicking on both sides of the law.

5. Moneyball (2011)

moneyball msn
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Releasing

Based on a true story, Moneyball dives into the world of professional baseball, where a forward-thinking general manager challenges the traditional conventions of team building. He challenges the established order through statistical analysis and strategic decision-making and uses “moneyball” tactics to revolutionize the game.

The movie highlights the power dynamics and resistance those who dare to challenge the status quo face.

6. The Ides of March (2011)

The Ides of March 2011
Image Credit: Saeed Sayani/CTMG

The Ides of March explores the dark underbelly of political campaigns as a young press secretary for a presidential candidate becomes embroiled in a web of manipulation, deceit, and moral compromise. In the pursuit of victory, loyalties are tested, secrets are revealed, and strategic alliances are formed and broken.

The film exposes the ruthless politicking that can occur in the pursuit of power.

7. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

O Brother, Where Art Thou
Image Credit: Touchstone Pictures.

Set in the Great Depression era, O Brother, Where Art Thou? follows three escaped convicts on a journey to find hidden treasure. Along the way, they encounter various political figures and engage in humorous situations that satirize the political landscape of the time.

With clever wordplay, comical scheming, and colorful characters, the movie captures the essence of politicking in a lighter tone.

8. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

my big fat greek wedding movie
Image Credit: IFC Films.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding may be a romantic comedy on the surface, but it also explores the intricate dynamics of a large, close-knit Greek family.

As the main character navigates cultural clashes, familial expectations, and the pursuit of love, the film showcases the politicking within families, where different personalities and generations vie for influence and control.

9. Lincoln (2012)

Image Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.

Set during the final months of Abraham Lincoln's presidency, Lincoln explores the political machinations and fierce battles faced by the 16th President of the United States. As Lincoln strived to pass the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, he encountered resistance, maneuvering, and strategic negotiations within the political landscape.

Lincoln portrays the intense politicking that takes place as he navigates the complexities of the Civil War, lobbying, and personal sacrifices to secure the necessary votes for the amendment's passage.

10. Mean Girls (2004)

mean girls lindsay lohan
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

While seemingly a teen comedy, Mean Girls is an incredibly intelligent exploration of high school cliques' social and political dynamics. As the new girl infiltrates the popular girl group, she witnesses the intricate web of power struggles, backstabbing, and manipulation.

Through sharp wit and relatable scenarios, the film exposes the art of politicking among teenagers, highlighting the strategies employed to gain popularity and control.

11. The Candidate (1972)

The Candidate
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

The Candidate follows an idealistic lawyer who enters a high-stakes political race as an underdog. As the campaign progresses, he is gradually drawn into the world of political strategizing, compromising his principles to win votes and secure power.

The film sheds light on the behind-the-scenes politicking involved in political campaigns, showcasing the transformation of a candidate as he confronts the harsh realities of the political landscape.

12. Knives Out (2019)

Knives Out 1
Image Credit: IMDB

Knives Out presents a clever and suspenseful murder mystery with a web of familial intrigue and greed at its core. As a renowned detective investigates the death of a wealthy patriarch, the film explores the complex dynamics within the family, filled with shifting alliances, secrets, and power struggles.

With sharp dialogue and unexpected twists, the movie showcases the politicking among family members vying for their share of the inheritance.

13. Thank You for Smoking (2005)

Thank you for smoking
Image Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Thank You for Smoking is a satirical movie where a spokesman for the Big Tobacco industry is still trying to make it look like smoking cigarettes is cool, but at the same time, he's trying to remain a good role model for his son. 

14. In The Loop (2009)

In the Loop
Image Credit: IFC Films.

Another political satire is In the Loop. This movie imagines if the United States President and the UK Prime Minister wanted to wage a war against each other, but it's up to the people in their cabinets to stop an all-out war from happening between these two major political powers.

15. All the Money in the World (2017)

All the Money in the World (2017)
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

All the Money in the World is inspired by the true story of when 16-year-old John Paul Getty III was kidnapped and how his family desperately tried to convince his billionaire grandfather to pay the ransom to free the teenager. 

Source: Reddit.


Author: Jaimee Marshall

Title: Freelance Writer

Expertise: Politics, Entertainment, Lifestyle, Pop Culture


Jaimee Marshall is a culture writer, avid movie buff, and political junkie. She spends the bulk of her time watching and critiquing films, writing political op-eds, and dabbling in philosophy. She has a Communication Studies degree from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where she flirted with several different majors before deciding to pursue writing. As a result, she has a diverse educational background, having studied economics, political science, psychology, business admin, rhetoric, and debate.