Now that the election has come and gone, the president currently on many people’s minds is….Abraham Lincoln. More specifically, Steven Spielberg’s two-and-a-half hour epic, Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis who’s seen as a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination. After an impressive opening on the coasts—in which Lincoln bested the per-screen earnings of thei mighty Skyfall—the movie goes nationwide this weekend.
We love a beard and top hat as much as anyone else, but let us not forget that this Lincoln is just the latest in a long line of cinematic presidents. Yes, he may have freed the slaves and led our country through the tumult of the Civil War, but did he ever deal with alien invasions, comets speeding toward the earth, or Gary Oldman affecting a Russian accent? Here, in no particular order, is DuJour’s highly opinionated list of our favorite film POTUSes from recent years.
1. In 1993’s delightful Dave, Kevin Kline plays an everyman who runs a temp agency—and who’s also a ringer for the president. He must step into the Oval Office to cover for the real commander-in-chief, who has slipped into a coma. In addition to being one of the nicest movie presidents ever, Dave was all about creating jobs. Maybe it’s time for him to be brought back in a sequel?
2. Keanu Reaves launched to stardom with Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the 1994 buddy pick about dimwit teens who prepare for a history class presentation by traveling back in time. One of their most memorable encounters was with Honest Abe himself, played by Robert V. Barron.
3. When President Harrison Ford’s plane is hijacked in 1997’s Air Force One, he doesn’t take things sitting down, despite what were assuredly repeated warnings to stay in his seat until the captain turned off the safety belt light. Not since playing Han Solo in Star Wars has Ford been so impressive on an aircraft.
4. A giant comet is heading toward planet earth. When faced with armageddon, who do you want running this show? President Morgan Freeman, of course. That’s what makes 1998’s Deep Impact so memorable.
5. Washington, D.C., has been the setting of many sex scandals—real and cinematic—but few good old-fashioned romances. But 1995’s The American President, featuring a suave yet sensitive Michael Douglas playing a widower White House inhabitant who falls for Annette Benning’s lobbyist, has it in spades.
6. There’s something about 2003’s Love Actually. The people who love it, really, really love it—and some of those people work at DuJour. So we’re including Billy Bob Thornton’s memorably oily scoundrel of a U.S. president. He’s only on screen for a few minutes, but he plays the important role of romantic roadblock, essential in any romcom—his lechery almost derails British prime minister Hugh Grant’s quest for true love.