Some people say that the best acting jobs are those where you cannot tell the person is acting.  There has never been a bigger testament to that statement than in Politics.  So, in honor of President’s Day, I wanted to take critical look at our cinematic heads of state and see how they measure up:


10. Fahrenheit 911 – George Bush
Although a sort of morbid way to start this count down, I truly believe that you never appreciate how good it can get until remember how bad it has been.  The raw footage of George W. Bush was one of the most disturbing performances of that year… or eight years.


9. Wild Wild West – Kevin Kline
In a two-term role, Kevin Kline not only played 2nd fiddle to Will Smith, he also played a stern Ulysses S. Grant (and his double).  The movie was less than spectacular, but Kevin Kline, as usually, was entertaining as both the magical Artemus Gordon and the grumpy Grant.


8. JFK – John F. Kennedy
Although his image was only stock footage, the presence of John F. Kennedy was a haunting character in the film, and served as both an overwhelming symbol of fallen hope, and a poor attempt at brainwashing an audience into paranoia.  Still, for someone who was not alive at the time, John F. Kennedy’s role in JFK delivers a similar feeling of devastation and emptiness that I have heard survivors of the incident talk about.


7. The Contender – Jeff Bridges
Jeff Bridges, who seems like a very unlikely Presidential Candidate, was actually one of the more well suited men for the role when cast in The Contender.  His swagger as Commander in Chief was a subtle mix of Clinton – with his charm and overall look – and a little Ford – with his brashness and propensity for sexism.  All in all, I think he is exactly what I’d expect a President to be behind the scenes.

6. Mars Attacks! – Jack Nicholson
Can anyone imagine a better President than Jack? Well, maybe so long as Aliens don’t invade.


5. W. – Josh Brolin
Like Primary Colors, although better acted and much better directed, W suffered from being poorly timed for the message it was attempting to convey.  After eight long-suffering years in the “Bushes”, a sentimental, excusatory film about how Bush is a pawn was definitely not well received.  Maybe in 10 years, people will look upon it more favorably.  For now, it resides half way through our list.


4. Dick – Dan Hedaya
For as much as we love to hate Richard Nixon, Dick offers us a funny, campy, totally unimaginable re-imagining of the Watergate scandal.  Dan Hedaya gives us a really bad Richard Nixon impression that would make senior citizen dinner theater bus boy blush, but with enough heart and feeling to actually make people wish that Nixon was that likeable.


3. Frost/Nixon – Frank Langella
The second, and best Nixon to make our list is this fierce, fiery version presented by Frank Langella.  What differs between Langella’s performance and the other Nixon, helmed by Sir Anthony Hopkins, is that Langella managed the Nixon that was beaten, disgraced, and totally delusional.  He enters the film as the Villian, and still manages to present – and vividly at that – a well-rounded, full-fledged character.  Very deserving of his Oscar nod, Langella is the Darth Vadar of President’s in this role.


2.  Dave – Kevin Kline
Kline’s version of the everyman’s President is sweet, endearing and completely fantastical in Dave.  The film is a love letter to the question:  What would you do if you woke up one day and you were President?  There are some incredible moments in the film:  The shower scene, the amazing supporting effort of Sir Ben Kingsley, and of course – the budget scene.  But overall, Dave is not really the President, so he can’t be number one if he can just shrug off the responsibility at the end of the day.

Which is why, our choice for Commander in Chief of Reel President’s is:

1. The American President – Michael Douglas
Michael Douglas’ Andrew Shepard is sophisticated, debonair, charming, authoritative, and real.  He is a mix of every great President we have ever had:  the slimness and earnestness of Lincoln, the softness of Carter, the charm and sophistication of Clinton, the regal heir of Jefferson, and the stature and confidence of Reagan.  Paired with the incredible supporting cast of Martin Sheen, Annette Bening, and Michael J. Fox, The American President wins every vote by an overwhelming majority.  It represents everything we want in a President, poise, sophistication, and the ability to stand up for what he believes in  – be it universal Healthcare or the love and respect of the woman he loves.  President Obama, take a lesson!


And for the top 5 most laughable President’s:

5. Inside Job – George W. Bush
The scene where he explains to America that we’re bailing out Wall Street was the best acting I have ever seen!


4. 2012 – Danny Glover
What kind of President stays behind with the rest of the world to die?  That’s not leadership – it’s cowardice!


3. The Rock – Stanley Anderson
You’re going to give the call to blow up the hostages when James Bond is on the island?  Ridiculous!


2. Independence Day – Bill Pullman
This one almost made my 10 best list, but I couldn’t look past the ridiculousness of Top Gun’s Tom Maverick graduating flight school and becoming President, oh and not to mention marrying Stands with a Fist – who seems twenty years his senior.  No flight junkie would be caught dead with that old lady as first bird, and no red-blooded American would vote for him either.


1. Air Force One – Harrison Ford
“Get Off My Plane!” – Enough said.