Calm authority, effortless intimacy with the facts, empathy that feels, not just a page: when the American president becomes comforter in chief through a national crisis, it is the most difficult part of the concert.
With millions of home-bound viewers logging into daily coronavirus briefings, who can blame anyone for wanting to return to the directors of our movies or television? (Without a doubt, having a screenwriter or two helps.) Setting aside performances based on the real occupants of the White House (sorry, Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln”), we prioritized big, bold designs – y included some nice weasels – and came up with 10 choices, roughly in order from best to worst.
Morgan Freeman “Deep Impact”
He has an easy way with a teleprompter and a voice that could appease a population in the face of an event of extinction level. Freeman’s president, Tom Beck, is everything you want in a leader when a planet-killing comet rushes to Earth. It doesn’t matter that Beck has been hiding this catastrophic news from the world for months, with the secret US-Russian countermeasure, a nuclear bomb interceptor called the Messiah. “There will be no hoarding, there will be no sudden profit,” said Beck to his flock, and you really believe the words will stay. His prayer is sincere. Man knows his biblical quotes.
Harrison Ford, “Air Force One”
Here’s the president as Die Hard action hero (and maybe that’s exactly what your quarantine frenzy needs). James Marshall – President Trump’s favorite POTUS on the screen is no ordinary commander-in-chief. He is fluent in Russian, served in Vietnam with unusual value, and knows his way around the hold of an airplane – useful when foreign hijackers move after takeoff. Shout whatever you want, Gary Oldman, but you’re about to start flying. Ford’s uncontrollable scenes before the terrorist siege reveal a father and a college football fanatic. It is decisive. If only every national emergency was so clear.
Available to broadcast on Fubo, and to rent or buy on Amazon, Fandango Now, Flix Fling, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu.
Martin Sheen, “The West Wing”
A program that turned the presidency into an ongoing conversation (and even developed his own grammar, the walk-and-talk, to prolong these conversations), the weekly drama by Aaron Sorkin did more to ennoble the inner lives of elected as most elected. officials. Sheen’s complex commitment to the role of Josiah “Jed” Bartlet, a Democrat with two terms, is an emotional anchor. Although the material is clearly oriented to the left, there is no party affiliation to its intellect and ferocity of feelings. Bartlet has too many strengths to name, but his weakest moments of shaken faith are the most enduring of the series – that and a piece of strategy scribbled on a notebook: “Let Bartlet be Bartlet.”
Jeff Bridges, “The Contender”
Clintsonesque Jackson Evans of Bridges is a president of big appetites – a gobbler of oatmeal cookies, a wine slurper, a good talker, an occasional howler. Dressed in a sweatshirt and hypervere, he falls into the sympathetic column, mainly to channel his passions when it counts. During the scandalized confirmation hearings of his vice-presidential candidate (Joan Allen), he does everything he can, savoring the spirit of play and confronting Congress in a confrontation which is one of the most galvanizing final speeches. of a political film. “A woman will serve at the highest executive level, as simple as that,” says Evans.
Terry Crews, “Idiocracy”
In stupid and clogged America of 2505, the electorate is allured by a quintuple champion of wrestling and a former porn star who goes up to the highest station of the country. (Note for posterity: director and co-writer Mike Judge meant this as unthinkable satire.) President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho is a man of his time. Played by Crews with an amount of physical bounce at James Brown’s level, it electrifies the film, surpassing everyone around him. But is he an idiot? Let’s pay tribute to Camacho: faced with a mass agricultural crisis involving watering crops with a sports drink, he stages the most intelligent person (Luke Wilson) and takes into account the results of science.
Available to broadcast on Max Go or Amazon, or to buy or rent on Fandango Now, Google Play, iTunes or Vudu.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
Constantly dismayed by real and imaginary snobs (“She became full-metal Nixon”, murmurs an assistant), Selina Meyer is, at the root, a number 2. This makes her potentially unsuitable for this list. But she fails on the upside, making her way to the Oval Office via an accidental fortune in the form of a resignation. The multi-season representation of Louis-Dreyfus is always clear, penetrating into unexplored areas of unease even when the general narrative of the series falters. As president, however, Meyer gets bad marks: sneaky irregularities in slush funds, wild riots over issues, crackdown on voters, even a war crime involving a drone strike and a dead elephant.
Peter Sellers, “Dr. Strangelove gold: How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb “
One of the most subtle achievements of the actor is the twisted chairman of the vendors Merkin Muffley – him with a Midwestern nose accent and no backbone. High-end for a fault (the liberal politician Adlai Stevenson was an influence), the character represents the most flint comment of the director Stanley Kubrick: the subtleties and the manners will not matter when an Air Force general thugs order a nuclear attack and the clock of the last judgment ticks down. Hear how Muffley chops the bruised ego of the Soviet Prime Minister on a worthy hotline call (“Of course, it’s a friendly call!”), Or how openly he worries about his ultimate place in the world. ‘history. He’s also the one who immortally insists, “Gentlemen, you can’t fight here – it’s the War Room.”
Henry Fonda, “Fail Safe”
Director Sidney Lumet’s most sordid films (“Serpico”, “Dog Day Afternoon”, “Prince of the City”) were still on the horizon when he directed this Cold War thriller, a bomber bunker race against time which, for all its visual panache, could not avoid comparisons with the sly “Dr. Strangelove”, released a few months earlier.
Anyway, Fonda brings dignity to its nameless world leader who sweats seconds. Hiding his face in shame, he commands the unimaginable and takes full responsibility. The film has a sense of almost cosmic sacrifice; it exists in a political space where idealism is the president’s main weapon.
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Donald Pleasence, “Escape From New York”
Pleasence gave icy Halloween gravity to John Carpenter as a heroic psychiatrist, an atypical role for a man often interpreted as heavy. For this film, their second collaboration (written by Carpenter as an oblique response to Watergate), it has once again become a worm, so immensely observable. Converting Manhattan into a maximum security prison may have been this guy’s idea in the first place, or at least it was implied by the terrorists who shot down Air Force One. The way the head of state of Pleasence, distant and unnamed, says goodbye to his staff as the door of his emergency pod closes (“God save me … and watch over you all”) in says a lot. Later, we’ll watch him brandish a machine gun and give Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken a cold shoulder.
Gordon Pinsent, “Colossus: The Forbin Project”
After placing the country’s nuclear arsenal in the hands of a passionless supercomputer programmed to never act hastily, an American president watches with dismay as artificial intelligence locates a sister system in Russia. Together, the two mainframes are becoming more and more proactive.
A dated but fun alarmist piece, the film was forgotten in the shadow of the same “2001: A Space Odyssey”, but Pinsent (best known for his performance opposite Julie Christie in the 2006 “Away From Her”) is indelible: a charming POTUS of Kennedy-esque bluster which is often accessorized with a cocktail glass. He is ultimately reduced to being a small player in his own administration – and an involuntary traitor of the human race.