Movies About Leaders

Updated
Movies About Leaders

Many directors have reported on Movies About Leaders. We assembled 25 of the best ones.

Downfall (2004)

Downfall
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Oliver Hirschbiegel, starring Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ulrich Matthes, Juliane Köhler
Rated R

Downfall is a 2004 German-language historical war drama film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel and based on several accounts of the final days of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. The film follows the events leading up to Hitler's suicide in his Berlin bunker, and the subsequent attempt by the German army to launch a counteroffensive against the Red Army. With a focus on the human drama experienced by both Hitler and his staff, the film explores the psychological impact of their decisions in the face of their impending doom. The film cast includes Bruno Ganz as Hitler, Alexandra Maria Lara as his secretary Traudl Junge, Corinna Harfouch as Magda Goebbels, and Ulrich Matthes as Joseph Goebbels. The film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 77th Academy Awards.

Gandhi (1982)

Gandhi
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Richard Attenborough, starring Ben Kingsley, John Gielgud, Rohini Hattangadi, Roshan Seth
Rated PG

Gandhi is a biographical film directed by Richard Attenborough, depicting the life of Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India. It stars Ben Kingsley in the title role. The film covers Gandhi's life from a defining moment in 1893, as he is thrown off a South African train for being in a whites-only compartment, and concludes with his assassination and funeral in 1948. In between, Gandhi is shown as a lawyer in South Africa, who tirelessly fights for civil rights and freedom for his people, through non-violent civil disobedience. He rallies the people of India to fight for independence without resorting to violence. The film culminates in 1947 with India gaining its independence from Britain. Gandhi is remembered as a great leader and a symbol of truth, reconciliation and non-violence.

The King's Speech (2010)

The King's Speech
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Tom Hooper, starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi
Rated R

The King's Speech is a 2010 British historical drama film directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler. The film tells the story of King George VI of the United Kingdom (played by Colin Firth), who, after his brother abdicates, is forced to overcome his stammer in order to assume the throne and lead the country into World War II. With the support of his wife (Helena Bonham Carter) and a speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush), the King is able to overcome his stammer and deliver a powerful radio address which helps to rally the nation and set the stage for victory. The film won four Academy Awards and several other awards, including Best Picture.

JFK (1991)

JFK
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Oliver Stone, starring Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau
Rated R

JFK is a 1991 American political thriller film written by Oliver Stone and directed by Stone. The film examines the events leading up to the assassination of John F. Kennedy and alleged cover-up through the eyes of former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner). Garrison has suspected that there was a conspiracy to assassinate the President, and his investigation leads him to conclude that the murder was the result of a larger plot involving the CIA, the FBI, the Mafia, and high-ranking government officials. The film also features a large ensemble cast, including Joe Pesci, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, Jack Lemmon, and Sissy Spacek. JFK is a highly acclaimed and influential film which has been credited with sparking a resurgence of political films.

All the President's Men (1976)

All the President's Men
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Alan J. Pakula, starring Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam
Rated PG

All the President's Men is an American political thriller released in 1976, directed by Alan J. Pakula. The film recounts the events leading up to and during the Watergate scandal. It follows Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman), two investigative reporters for The Washington Post, as they uncover the Nixon administration's involvement in the illegal cover-up of the burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. The film is based on the 1974 non-fiction book of the same name by Woodward and Bernstein. In addition to Redford and Hoffman, the film features Jason Robards as Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, Jack Warden as Post managing editor Howard Simons, and Hal Holbrook as informant Deep Throat. Through their investigation, Woodward and Bernstein uncover a web of corruption that eventually leads to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

The Motorcycle Diaries
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Walter Salles, starring Gael García Bernal, Rodrigo de la Serna, Mía Maestro, Mercedes Morán
Rated R

The Motorcycle Diaries is a biographical road-trip drama based on the memoir of the same name by Che Guevara. It follows Che Guevara, played by Gael García Bernal, and his friend Alberto Granado, played by Rodrigo de la Serna, as they set off on a road-trip across Latin America in 1952. Along the way, they discover the beauty and socio-economic injustices of South America and form a deep bond with the people they meet. The film chronicles Che’s transformation from a privileged medical student to a revolutionary leader, exploring his developing sense of social justice and his growing awareness of the poverty and inequality around him.

The Last Emperor (1987)

The Last Emperor
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Bernardo Bertolucci, starring John Lone, Joan Chen, Peter O'Toole, Ruocheng Ying
Rated PG-13

The Last Emperor is a sweeping epic, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, that tells the story of Pu Yi, the last emperor of China. Pu Yi’s life is told in three distinct acts: his childhood, as the son of a powerful and influential family; his adulthood, as the leader of a country he never chose to govern; and his later years, in which he is reduced to a humble gardener. Through this narrative, the film examines themes of imperialism, fate, and the intersection between power and personal identity. As we follow Pu Yi’s journey, we come to understand how a person can be both a victim and a victimizer, both privileged and oppressed. Ultimately, the film speaks to a universal truth: no one is exempt from the consequences of their actions, and no one is immune from the impact of history.

Frost/Nixon (2008)

Frost/Nixon
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Ron Howard, starring Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell
Rated R

Frost/Nixon is a 2008 drama directed by Ron Howard which tells the story of the historic television interviews between British talk-show host David Frost and former President Richard Nixon in 1977. After being forced to resign from his post as President, Richard Nixon agrees to a series of interviews with Frost in an attempt to rehabilitate his image. However, Frost is determined to expose the truth about Nixon's involvement in the Watergate scandal. As the interviews progress, Frost begins to unravel Nixon's web of lies and deception. The film follows the two men as they battle for control of the narrative, culminating in a moment of truth for both parties. Frost/Nixon is a powerful drama that explores the complexities of power, truth, and fame.

The Last King of Scotland (2006)

The Last King of Scotland
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Kevin Macdonald, starring James McAvoy, Forest Whitaker, Gillian Anderson, Kerry Washington
Rated R

The Last King of Scotland (2006) is a historical drama directed by Kevin Macdonald. The film stars Forest Whitaker as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, and James McAvoy as a young Scottish doctor, Nicholas Garrigan, who becomes Amin’s personal physician. The film follows Garrigan as he gets swept up in Amin’s authoritarian regime and struggles to stay alive. Through his experiences, the movie provides a powerful commentary on the corruptive nature of power and the long-reaching consequences of Amin’s rule. The film won several awards, including an Oscar for Best Actor (Whitaker) and was nominated for several others, including Best Picture.

The Two Popes (2019)

The Two Popes
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Fernando Meirelles, starring Jonathan Pryce, Anthony Hopkins, Juan Minujín, Luis Gnecco
Rated PG-13

The Two Popes is a 2019 biographical drama film directed by Fernando Meirelles that tells the story of the dramatic events leading up to Pope Benedict XVI's resignation in 2013 and the subsequent ascension of Pope Francis. It follows the relationship between the two popes, as they confront their sharply differing approaches to the Church and its future. Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) is a traditionalist who is resistant to change, while Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce) is a progressive who seeks to reform the Church. Through their discussions, the two men come to understand and appreciate one another, finding common ground and coming to terms with the question of who will lead the Catholic Church into the future. The film culminates in a remarkable conclusion that will leave viewers filled with hope.

Henry V (1989)

Henry V
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Kenneth Branagh, starring Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Simon Shepherd, James Larkin
Rated PG-13

Henry V is a 1989 British historical drama film adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh. It tells the story of King Henry V of England, focusing on events immediately before and after the Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Years' War. The film stars Branagh in the title role of the English king, alongside Paul Scofield, Derek Jacobi, Ian Holm, Emma Thompson, Alec McCowen, Judi Dench, Robbie Coltrane, and Brian Blessed. The film follows Henry V as he navigates the political and personal pressures of leading a kingdom at war. After inheriting the throne, Henry is determined to drive out the French who have occupied the land and restore England's control. Despite being vastly outnumbered and heavily outmatched, Henry defies expectations with a daring attack on the French army in the Battle of Agincourt, where his army triumphs over great odds. The film features powerful performances from the cast, and was praised for its faithfulness to the original play. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won three, for Best Costume Design, Best Makeup, and Best Sound.

The Favourite (2018)

The Favourite
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Yorgos Lanthimos, starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult
Rated R

The Favourite is a historical drama set in the early 18th century, focusing on the political machinations of Queen Anne of Great Britain, her close friend Lady Sarah Churchill, and the arrival of a young and ambitious servant named Abigail Masham. As Sarah and Abigail compete for influence over the Queen, they engage in a complex game of manipulation and intrigue that has far-reaching consequences. The film explores themes of power, ambition, and gender dynamics as it examines the personal and political struggles between the three women. It is a darkly comedic take on a period of history that has often been romanticized.

Selma (2014)

Selma
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Ava DuVernay, starring David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Wilkinson
Rated PG-13

Selma is a 2014 American historical drama film based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches, and focuses on Martin Luther King Jr.'s campaign to secure equal voting rights. Directed by Ava DuVernay, the film stars David Oyelowo as King, Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon B. Johnson, and Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King. The film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. King, activists, and many citizens of the Civil Rights Movement attempted to complete a 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in order to secure equal voting rights in the United States. Despite violent opposition, the protesters eventually achieved their goal when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law. The film also highlights other key figures who were involved in the movement, including Alabama Governor George Wallace, activist and confidante of Dr. King, Ralph Abernathy, and civil right leader Amelia Boynton Robinson. The film received critical acclaim and was nominated for Best Picture at the 87th Academy Awards.

Elizabeth (1998)

Elizabeth
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Shekhar Kapur, starring Cate Blanchett, Liz Giles, Rod Culbertson, Paul Fox
Rated R

Darkest Hour (2017)

Darkest Hour
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Joe Wright, starring Gary Oldman, Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn
Rated PG-13

Invictus (2009)

Invictus
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Clint Eastwood, starring Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Tony Kgoroge, Patrick Mofokeng
Rated PG-13

Lincoln (2012)

Lincoln
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Rated PG-13

The Young Victoria (2009)

The Young Victoria
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Jean-Marc Vallée, starring Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson
Rated PG

Mrs. Brown (1997)

Mrs. Brown
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From John Madden, starring Judi Dench, Billy Connolly, Geoffrey Palmer, Antony Sher
Rated PG

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
★★★★
★★★★
2.8 out of 4 stars

From Justin Chadwick, starring Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Terry Pheto, Robert Hobbs
Rated PG-13

Nixon (1995)

Nixon
★★★★
★★★★
2.8 out of 4 stars

From Oliver Stone, starring Anthony Hopkins, Joan Allen, Powers Boothe, Ed Harris
Rated R

Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)

Elizabeth: The Golden Age
★★★★
★★★★
2.7 out of 4 stars

From Shekhar Kapur, starring Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush, Jordi Mollà
Rated PG-13

Victoria & Abdul (2017)

Victoria & Abdul
★★★★
★★★★
2.7 out of 4 stars

From Stephen Frears, starring Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Tim Pigott-Smith, Eddie Izzard
Rated PG-13

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

The Other Boleyn Girl
★★★★
★★★★
2.7 out of 4 stars

From Justin Chadwick, starring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, Jim Sturgess
Rated PG-13

Jackie (2016)

Jackie
★★★★
★★★★
2.7 out of 4 stars

From Pablo Larraín, starring Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup
Rated R

 



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