7 Best President Performances in Movies in Honor of President's Day



President’s Day is almost here, a time that where the kids are off of school, many of us don’t have to go to work, and we get no mail. But one thing we don’t do enough of? Pay tribute to the reason why we celebrate the day in the first place, to honor Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. And it’s also a perfectly suitable time to honor other presidents of years past as well, and one of the best ways to do that is through the magic of film.

Tackling these very real historical icons is not an easy task. There are costumes, wigs, accents, and other attributes that the actor’s must slip into in order to play versions of our Presidents, from Honest Abe to Dubya.

Check out our picks, just in time for President’s Day, of the 7 best Presidential portrayals in recent years.

  • Paul Giamatti as John Adams 1 of 7
    Paul Giamatti as John Adams
    In a HBO mini-series, Paul Giamatti played President John Adams, wigs and all. In John Adams, He played Adams over a course of many years, which added even more of a challenge. But it was a challenge worth taking, he won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his performance.
  • Frank Langella as Richard Nixon 2 of 7
    Frank Langella as Richard Nixon
    Frank Langella was brilliant in the Ron Howard biopic Frost/Nixon for which he earned a Academy Award nomination. The New York Times interviewed Mr. Langella who said, "It took me a long time to figure out how to walk the line. On the one hand I didn't want to get into Rich Little territory. I didn't want to do an impression; I wanted an evocation of him, an essence. And I also knew that whatever I did, I could never satisfy some people, especially the ones who just want to hate Nixon." He paused saying, "But why shouldn't he be human? Why shouldn't he be sympathetic and touching, along with all the rest — vicious, cruel, a liar and a crook?"
  • Anthony Hopkins as Richard Nixon 3 of 7
    Anthony Hopkins as Richard Nixon
    Anthony Hopkins proves he can play pretty much anyone who is over the age of fifty and male, he's just that good. He nailed his portrayal of Richard Nixon in the Oliver Stone film Nixon, a role that even got him an Academy Award nomination.
  • Bill Murray as Franklin D. Roosevelt 4 of 7
    Bill Murray as Franklin D. Roosevelt
    While Bill Murray is known mostly for his comic roles, he took on not just a dramatic role, but that playing a past president. In Hyde Park on Hudson Murray plays President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He told the LA Times that playing FDR was the "the most formidable character" he'd ever played and spent months doing research on the iconic president.
  • Anthony Hopkins in John Quincy Adams 5 of 7
    Anthony Hopkins in John Quincy Adams
    Anthony Hopkins not only Nixon, but he played another American President. Back in 1997, he played John Quincy Adams in Amistad,a role that earned him yet another Academy Awards nomination.
  • Josh Brolin as George W. Bush 6 of 7
    Josh Brolin as George W. Bush
    Taking on the role of a President is one thing, but taking on the role of a President who is still living, makes the portrayal even more challenging. But Josh Brolin did just that in Oliver Stone's film W. "It's not meant to be an impersonation," he told the Telegraph of his role "You couldn't sustain that for the length of a film... they made my hair grey and we had to do a lot with prosthetics. Bush is not a bad-looking guy but he does have a pinched face. I would be incredibly interested to know what he makes of it."
  • Daniel Day-Lewis as Abe Lincoln 7 of 7
    Daniel Day-Lewis as Abe Lincoln
    Daniel Day-Lewis did an amazing job playing Abe Lincoln in Stephen Spielberg's aptly named film Lincoln. He's already won the SAG, BAFTA and Golden Globe for best actor, and is pegged to bring home Oscar for his role.

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