Get Out the Vote! 8 Election-Themed Movies to Watch This Nov. 3

This Election Day will be one for the history books. Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, watching (and waiting) for the returns in the presidential contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden is sure to be nerve-wracking. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance we may not know the outcome of the vote on election night, with some experts predicting it could take days or weeks before all ballots are counted. 

In other words, if you’re hoping for a tidy resolution to 2020’s political drama on Nov. 3, you may not get it. And at some point, you might get tired of all those cable news talking heads speculating about the final outcome. Rather than spending the night shouting at the TV or compulsively refreshing Twitter, consider switching to some entertainment that provides the neat ending that this year’s presidential race might lack by streaming one of these election-themed movies.  

‘Election’ 

Alexander Payne’s dark 1999 comedy Election dives into the take-no-prisoners world of high school politics. Reese Witherspoon plays Tracy Flick, an ambitious overachiever running for student body president at her Nebraska high school. Matthew Broderick is a civics teacher who resents his student and tries to sabotage her campaign. 

Streaming on Pluto TV (free with ads) and HBO Max.

‘Head of State’ 

After a political party’s candidates for president and vice president die in a plane crash, leaders tap a low-level politician (Chris Rock, who also directed) to run for the highest office in the land. It doesn’t take him long to realize that he has no chance of winning — and that he’s only on the ticket as a cynical ploy to curry favor with minority voters. That inspires him to speak the truth about a corrupt political process. 

Streaming on Popcornflix (free with ads). 

‘The Ides of March’  

Politics gets ugly — and personal — in this 2011 film set during the Democratic presidential primary. Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) is an ambitious campaign staffer to Gov. Mike Morris (George Clooney), who is trying to secure an endorsement from a powerful senator that would guarantee him the nomination. But a series of scandals and backroom dealings threaten the campaign and force everyone involved to make difficult choices about what compromises they’re willing to make to get what they want.

Streaming on Amazon Prime.  

‘Swing Vote’ 

Every vote matters, as the politically apathetic Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner) learns when, after a voting machine malfunction, the results of a presidential election hinge on who he decides to support. With control of the White House on the line, both parties bend over backwards in an attempt to win over Bud.  

Streaming on Pluto TV (free with ads) 

‘Man of the Year’ 

The late Robin Williams stars as a Jon Stewart-esque talk show host who launches a longshot bid for president in this 2006 comedy. Despite his lack of political experience, he becomes a serious contender for the Oval Office. (Sound familiar?) Man of the Year was generally panned by critics upon its release but the satire might seem oddly prescient today given the current political situation. 

Streaming on Amazon Prime Video 

‘Napoleon Dynamite’ 

In this quirky 2004 comedy that spawned a million “Vote for Pedro” t-shirts, an awkward high school outcast named Napoleon (Jon Heder) teams up with new kid in school Pedro (Efren Ramirez) to launch a campaign to become class president, running against the popular and snobbish Summer (Haylie Duff). 

Streaming on Starz. 

‘Long Shot’ 

In this 2019 rom-com, journalist Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) has just lost his job an an alt-weekly when he crosses paths with his former babysitter Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), who is now Secretary of States and has decided to run for president. She enlists her old babysitting charge as her speechwriter, turning to him to help her craft an electable persona. 

Streaming on Cinemax.

‘Primary Colors’

Inspired by Bill Clinton’s 1992 run for president, Primary Colors stars John Travolta as a philandering Southern governor on the road to the White House and Emma Thompson as his loyal wife, with supporting performances by Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, and Larry Hagman.     

Streaming on Peacock.

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