BEST PRESIDENTIAL BIOPICS
“Frost/Nixon” (2008) If you were alive at the time and old enough to appreciate it, the 1977 David Frost interviews with Richard Nixon were high drama at its best, as the British presenter sought to pin down the disgraced chief executive over what he did and didn’t know about Watergate. Michael Sheen and Frank Langella, respectively, do an excellent job of interpreting these men as they engage in a high-profile game of cat and mouse, with history determining the winner. “Warm Springs” (2005) Polio rendered Franklin Roosevelt a paraplegic for the last 24 years of his life and all of his historic presidency, yet he managed to keep his condition largely under wraps from the American public. Northern Ireland native Kenneth Branagh makes a convincing though unlikely pre-White House FDR as he struggles with his affliction at a run-down Georgia spa, aided by his wife, Eleanor, played by an equally convincing though unlikely Cynthia Nixon, who took on this role right after “Sex and the City.” Talk about a palate cleanser. “Abe Lincoln in Illinois” (1940) No, you wouldn’t look at Raymond Massey and immediately think “Lincoln,” but he fills Honest Abe’s size 14s quite nicely in this historical drama that became required viewing for many an elementary-school student. Massey does a masterful job as he portrays Lincoln from his early years as a Kentucky woodsman up until his election in 1860, painting him as alternatively contemplative, humble and heroic. The actor earned an Oscar nomination and the chance to play him many more times on TV, film and stage, yet he managed to avoid being typecast over his long career.