Miss the campaign trail? These directors and their movies take us back

Some of Political Theater’s favorite conversations with filmmakers about their campaign movies

The Senate campaign of Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke is just one of the topics of some our favorite political movies and the podcasts that came from them here on Political Theater.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
The Senate campaign of Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke is just one of the topics of some our favorite political movies and the podcasts that came from them here on Political Theater. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Jason Dick
Posted April 15, 2020 at 1:36pm

Campaigning in the time of coronavirus. It’s just not quite the same. At least we have the movies to tide us over for awhile.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced us all to keep our distance, the face-to-face visceral glad-handing of politics and all its human messiness has been shelved. Here at Political Theater, we’ve been fortunate enough to have had on the podcast filmmakers and subjects who have chronicled what political publications sometimes take for granted will always be there: the urgency and significance of the campaigns that shape our society.

That means documentaries about gerrymandering, that prone-to-mischief process that can poison politics; the intimate, behind-the-scenes moments of Beto O’Rourke’s epic Senate run in Texas; the nascent who-saw-it-coming beginnings of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; or a comprehensive look at Bobby Kennedy’s evolution from political street-fighter to presidential candidate.

One of my favorites on the list is “The Front Runner,” director Jason Reitman’s fictional take on the downfall of Sen. Gary Hart, the man who seemed destined to be president before he got caught up in the fast-forwarding of politics and journalism in 1987. Our podcast with Reitman and co-writers Matt Bai and Jay Carson is the one I would take to a desert island. Think you know Hugh Jackman from his roles as Wolverine and the like? Wait until you see his Hart throw an ax.

Eventually, this will all end, and we political theatergoers will hop back on the trail. Until then, enjoy these podcasts and the movies themselves: