John Hanlon Reviews


Hollywood taking on politics before the 2016 election

Posted in: General  |  By: John Hanlon  |  July 29th, 2016
Hollywood politics 2016

We’re approximately one hundred days away from the 2016 presidential election. During that period, story there will be hundreds of candidate speeches, a seemingly endless series of commercials, and at least three debates. But in the midst of the campaign, there will also be several notable films about political subjects.

In 2016, we’ve already seen a slew of political films at the box office. Earlier this year, Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi opened up the debate about Benghazi again (although the film did its best in not coming across as a political feature). A few months after that, Jodie Foster’s compelling drama Money Monster focused on how corporate greed (and big banks) had damaged the economy for everyday citizens. In more recent days, The Purge: Election Year brought a political spin to the long-running franchise and more recently, Dinesh D’Souza’s anti-Clinton documentary Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party became the highest-grossing documentary of the year.

That’s only the beginning though.

In August, both War Dogs and Southside with You will be coming to a theater near you. The first film — a war comedy starring Miles Teller and Jonah Hill — tells the true story of two young men who received millions of dollars from the U.S. government in the 2000s. According to, the men become “weapons traders for the U.S. government and enjoy the high life that multimillion-dollar contracts let them lead before the proverbial chickens come home to roost.” In the article, director Todd Phillips notes that the story is “more of an indictment on the government than it is on these two kids who saw an angle.”

The latter film tells the story of President Barack Obama’s first date with Michelle Obama. Although the story isn’t political in nature, its focus on the first couple could paint the duo in a new and more positive light during their last few months in office.

In September, two other major films will address controversial subjects from the Obama administration. On September 16th, Oliver Stone’s Snowden arrives in theaters nationwide, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the title character. The film reportedly focuses on Edward Snowden’s decision to leak thousands of classified documents about our nation’s surveillance policies. If the feature catches on, it could re-ignite the debate about the security of top secret documents and the NSA’s controversial policies.

Two weeks later, Peter Berg’s Deepwater Horizon tells the story of the tragic oil spill that dominated the news during early 2010. That spill wasn’t easily quelled and the Mark Wahlberg drama could remind viewers of the environmental damage caused by that accident and our government’s inadequate response.

In addition to these films, there are also going to be plenty of films that take on controversial subjects that could offer stir up conversations in the presidential campaign. Sully, Clint Eastwood’s new biopic about the heroic actions of pilot Chesley Sullenberger could offer up a great nonpolitical story of an American hero. However, an early trailer suggests that the film focuses on some of the governmental questions about the landing rather than just the landing itself. Goat, a drama set for release in late September, could stir up some interesting political conversations as well with its focus on the modern-day dangers of fraternity hazing.

Lastly, Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation arrives in theaters everywhere in early October. The film tells the story of a slave rebellion and will likely cause some discussions about our nation’s history. The movie already created great buzz at Sundance where it won both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition.

The campaign season still has a few months ahead and we don’t know what will happen on the trail. What we do know is that theatergoers will be treated with an eclectic supply of political and historical movies before the election season ends. These films could change the political discussions around the dinner table just as our nation prepares to vote for the next president of the United States.