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Top 10 Movie Presidents

top 10 best movie presidentsHe’s the Chief Executive, the Chief Legislator, the Commander-In-Chief, the Chief Diplomat, and just about the Chief Everything. The President of the USA is one of the most symbolic and fictionalised figures in the world.

Barack Obama is inaugurated this week. Will he be able to sort out Iraq? Fix the economy? Restore faith and pride into a divided America? No one knows, but what we can do is look back at some of Hollywood’s offers of President of the United States, and see how they sized up to mighty challenges.

These are the Top Ten Movie Presidents to ever grace our screens.

10. President “Unknown Name” – Henry Fonda (Fail Safe)

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In a movie that is practically the serious drama version of Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove; Henry Fonda plays a president on the brink of nuclear destruction. After an accidental breach of Russian security, a missile is launched and is heading for Moscow, and there is no way of bringing it back due to the missile’s Fail Safe mechanism. As the President and his staff debate the best outcome of an inevitable nuclear problem, Henry Fonda as the President must decide how to combat the situation. And the decision he comes to is a grave one – offering up New York City as a consolation target for the Russians. As a President on paper, Fonda is a disaster. After all, he does cause a Nuclear War, but there is something about Fonda’s performance as the President that is both awe inspiring and very human. You feel for him at every turn. Against the clock and against the world, Fonda’s President does what he has to do to limit the damage, making the call no one else would want to.

If this doesn’t put a chill down the spine, nothing will.

9. President Lindeberg – Tom Lister Jr. (The Fifth Element)

top movie presidents

If you thought George W. Bush was a lousy president, wait till you get a load of this guy. In Luc Besson’s futuristic industrial world of the Fifth Element, what does America need less than a lazy, incompetent, puppet of a president? President Lindeberg actually provides some comic relief, but, like Bush, it’s not intentional on his part and it’s not really what you look for in a Commander In Chief. Played to perfection by the oversized and ironically named Tom “Tiny” Lister JR, Lindeberg soon has you wishing the evil Emmanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman) would come and sort things out.

8. President Alan Richmond – Gene Hackman (Absolute Power)

presidents absolute power

Absolute power corrupts, absolutely! No man has ever personified this famous phrase more than President Alan Richmond, who will do anything to stop the murder of his mistress being leaked to the public. Gene Hackman’s hawkish portrayal of the aggressive hardliner President Richmond is a memorable performance worthy of a mention in any list of Movie Presidents, or indeed Gene Hackman performances. Hackman is a master of character driven drama, and seems to be able to frighten anyone with a simple stare if he puts the right emotion behind it. Absolute Power is a great example of an actor playing a President with no fear, as Richmond is the kind of ruthless politician that has even his closest allies shaking at the knees. His corruption and intense power combined create one scary guy you do not want to get on the bad side of. Yikes!

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  • Fletchman1313 said

    I think ‘Dave’ should be added on this list:

    Although technically he wasn’t REALLY the President, he did act like he was. Well, within the movie, he acted as if he were the President, unlike the others listed here who were acting as Preisdent within their respective movies. Err, nevermind.

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  • orvilleredenbacher said

    #10. Funny it never occurs to him to bomb D.C.

    Excellent post.

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  • Braden said

    What about Dennis Haysbert as President David Palmer from 24? Okay, I know it isn’t a movie, but how can you not love David Palmer?

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  • riontaylor said

    You forgot President Camacho from Idiocracy

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  • Denis said

    President David Palmer from 24 is the best president ever.

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  • Passs said

    Obama played by Will Smith… SOON! 😉

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  • dnwilliams said

    dude. i was about to FLIP when i saw ford at number two…until i saw sellers, nice save 😀

    dmitri? hello dmitri.

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  • Isabella said

    I agree with Mr Denis, Palmer was great as the president in 24..and 24 is the best Tv Show ever. I have seen most of the movies in this list….and Independence Day was awesome 🙂

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  • Denny Crane said

    Obivously none of you have seen President James Marshall strutt his stuff in Air Force One – one of the all time greats

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  • Sheridan Passell said
    Sheridan Passell

    @Denny, Obviously you haven’t read the list.

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  • G said

    I don’t know if this one counts, but what about Ossie Davis, as JFK in Bubba Ho-Tep. If you can outshine Bruce Campbell then you must be doing a good job

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  • P. said

    No Jeff Bridges from The Contender?

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  • jason said

    hey i know one but dont remember the name. there is this movie where the president is chatting with a boy who gives him tipps about several things.

    anyone remember?

    i like that president

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    • Keith Douglas said

      Honorable mention at least should go two very different Presidents from different eras. Fredric Marsh, Seven Days in May. And Dan Hedaya, Dick. Also, maybe it doesn’t exactly fit here, but Raymond Massey’s performance in Abe Lincoln in Illinois is worth remembering.

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  • kj moore said

    I was very impressed with the film Thirteen Days and with Bruce Greenwoods portrayal of JFK. To my tastes this was one of the best historical movies depicting an American President. I would love to see a companion movie depicting Khrushchev and the Soviet point of view of the same events.

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  • Steven said

    My Fellow Americans! As far as comedy presidents I think this one is better than Mars Attacks with far more “president” time. Maybe your list is just a “facade.”

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