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UPDATE: Hail to the Chief! Our top 10 favorite film Presidents

Posted Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at 4:40 PM Central

by John Couture

It's election day today and along with almost assuredly every other movie-related web site out there, we have created a top 10 list of U.S. Presidents on film. We decided to list our favorite presidents in the order that we like them. We purposely chose such nebulous criteria to make the list more interesting.

So, without further ado, here is our list of our favorite presidential turns in cinema. The only requirement is that the Presidents in question had to be fictional. Perhaps our favorite portrayals of real life Presidents could be a list for Presidents' Day or something.

Tommy "Tiny" Liston, The Fifth Element
Not only is The Fifth Element one of my favorite films of all-time, but it also features Tommy "Tiny" Liston in one of the only roles in which he plays against his type. He brings just enough cockiness and vulnerability to the role of a futuristic President.

Gene Hackman, Absolute Power
Sure, the real scene-stealer in this picture is Clint Eastwood as the thief caught in the wrong place at the right time. But, there's just something so non-Presidential about Hackman's performance as a sitting President that commits murder that is just creepy enough to stay with us to this day. And no, Hackman didn't lose points for his second turn as a U.S. President in that awful movie Welcome to Mooseport, but perhaps he should have.

Jack Nicholson, Mars Attacks!
It's not often in a movie where you see a sitting President get killed by aliens and in such a hysterical fashion to boot. Jack's double duty in the movie certainly earned him brownie points, not to mention Natalie Portman plays a killer Goth first daughter.

John Travolta, Primary Colors
While yes, everyone knows he was basically playing real President Bill Clinton and while most of the movie takes place before he was actualy elected President, you have to give it to Travolta for this memorable role. Few actors would have been able to pull it off in such a fashion.

Peter Sellers, Dr. Strangelove
Perhaps it was the three roles he played or the fact that I still chuckle everytime I hear President Merkin Muffley, but there's no doubt that not many Presidents stick out in my mind more than Peter Sellers' take.

Morgan Freeman, Deep Impact
Many say it was Morgan's turn as President in this movie (along with Dennis Haysbert in the TV show 24) that prepared this country for the moment of history that we may very likely witness tonight: the election of an African-American President. For the sheer potential for history (not to mention the fact that Morgan knocked it out of the park), this turn makes the top 5.

Bill Pullman, Independence Day
There may not be a better portrayal of guts and leadership qualities as President on film as put forth by Bill Pullman in this movie. His motivational speech before leading the fighters out for the final attack on the alien ships still makes the hair on my arm stand up today.

Kevin Kline, Dave
For some reason this whimsical take on being President just speaks to the wide-eyed child in all of us that one day dreamt of becoming President ourselves. Kline captures the spirit of anything is possible in America the best of all the Presidents put on film and not to mention he makes the highest office in the land look like it could actually be a fun job some days.

Harrison Ford, Air Force One
I would argue that if Harrison Ford would announce that he was running for President right this moment, he'd win this election by a landslide. He consistently tops lists all the time as peoples' favorite choice as President and while he does have a very Presidential quality about him, the decision was close and to be honest, he's just number two in my book.

Michael Douglas, The American President
Tonight, I'm going to get home and throw this movie in the old DVD player and hit play. Then, after it's over, I'm going to watch the returns come in as we celebrate the election of our next President. To me, there is no other performance that best captures all facets of being the highest elected official in the United States than this one. I think the best part of the role is the humanity that Michael Douglas brings to the role of President. He is able to both lead the country and make time to find a date.

So, that's our list of top Presidential performances. How did we do? Better yet, tell us your favorite on-screen Presidents that we forgot.

Terry Crews, Idiocracy
In a true reflection of the wonderful democracy that we live in, the people have spoken and I've decided to take this list to 11 with respect to Spinal Tap. The early returns have been so overwhelming in favor of Dwayne Alozando Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho that it's impossible to deny his inclusion. To be fair to Tim, he did make a passionate case for Crews' inclusion, but as I have not seen Idiocracy yet, I felt I couldn't include him in good conscience. But the injustice has been corrected. And I plan on correcting that other injustice by watching Idiocracy this weekend. For now, enjoy this little piece of propaganda we found online. If you like it, click on it and you can get it on a t-shirt.