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For Your Consideration: A History of Presidential Movies at the Oscars

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire November 14, 2012 at 11:30AM

Over the years, films about real-life American presidents from Andrew Jackson to Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton (whether fictionalized or not) have garnered a total of 36 Oscar nominations and seven wins. That count is essentially certain to grow come early 2013, when Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" is all but assured to get a bunch of noms (while another presidential pic, Roger Michell's FDR-centered "Hyde Park on Hudson," has an outside shot at a couple nods as well). READ MORE: 2013 Oscar Predictions
2

"Primary Colors"
"Primary Colors"
Primary Colors
President: "Bill Clinton"
Release: 1998
The Gist: Alright, so this sort of shouldn't count because it's about "fictional" president Jack Stanton (John Travolta) and his wife Susan (Emma Thompson), but everyone knows Mike Nichols' "Primary Colors" -- based on the book by Joe Klein -- is about Bill and Hillary Clinton and their campaign to win the 1992 Presidential Democratic Primary. However, Thompson said she did not base her performance on Hillary Clinton, while Travolta said he based his on several presidents, but mostly on Bill Clinton.
Oscar Count: 2 noms for Elaine May's screenplay and Kathy Bates' supporting performance.

Dick
President: Richard Nixon
Release: 1999
The Gist: Andrew Fleming's hilarious, underrated fictional comedy stars Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams as two lovely (but not so bright) teenage girls who somehow wind become the legendary 'Deep Throat' figure partly responsible for bringing down Nixon (played by Dan Hedaya). Will Ferrell and a pre-fame Ryan Reynolds also star
Oscar Count: None, though it was never expected (even though a screenplay nod would have been well worth it).

"Thirteen Days"
"Thirteen Days"
Thirteen Days
President: John F. Kennedy
Release: 2000
The Gist: Another JFK movie with Kevin Costner, except this time the president is actually in it (and played exceptionally by Bruce Greenwood).  Based on the book "The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis," the film is a dramatization of the Kennedy administration (Costner plays a key member) and its struggle to contain the crisis in October of 1962.
Oscar Count: Greenwood was in the conversation for a supporting actor bid, but it never happened (and neither did any other nomination).

Frost/Nixon
President: Richard Nixon
Release: 2008
The Gist: Nixon, again! Apparently the president with the most cinematic narrative is the one who has the most corruption associated with his legacy. Ron Howard's film -- based on Peter Morgan's 2006 play -- stars Frank Langella as Nixon and Michael Sheen as British television broadcaster David Frost. It depicts the story behind the famous Frost/Nixon interviews of 1977.
Oscar Count: Langella followed Anthony Hopkins as the second actor to get an Oscar nom for playing Nixon, and the film recieved 4 additional nominations, including best picture and best director.

W.
President: George W. Bush
Release: 2008
The Gist: The third and final Oliver Stone take on a U.S. President is unique in that it was released while that President -- George W. Bush -- was still in office. Exploring his life and presidency, the film starred Josh Brolin as W., Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush and James Cromwell and Ellen Burstyn as George Sr. and Barbara.
Oscar Count: The third time was not the charm for Oliver Stone, as the film received mixed reviews and zero Oscar nominations.

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This article is related to: Academy Awards, Lincoln, Hyde Park on Hudson






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