The Best Movies to See to Prep for DC

October 10, 2013

North America

Washington DC is featured in so many films that it would be folly to try to list them here, much less to describe them all. Movies that involve war and politics, or aliens, and if they’re about America or Americans, they’re likely to be based in Washington DC. Otherwise, they’re at least going to have a scene or two of the White House exploding (Independence Day) or the Washington Monument being toppled (Mars Attacks?). What you want to do instead of seeing snippet movies of Washington DC is to read this article and memorize the titles of the films herein listed, because they are going to give you not only views of the city but overviews of its culture and history.

Transformers 3

Image source ‘Transformers 3’: mike_nelson

All the President’s Men

The Watergate scandal was one of the most serious breaches of trust in the history of the executive. But how exactly was it that the public became aware of such blatant actions? All the President’s Men is the story of the Washington Post journalists that spill the president’s beans. You get taken around Washington DC, and best of all, your guides are Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.


Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

This one is probably the most iconic Washington DC film ever made. It was filmed the same year as the Wizard of Oz, and the story is not far off in terms of believability. Jimmy Stewart, who if not remembered from this film then surely from It’s a Wonderful Life, goes to Washington, to stand up for his individual rights, etcetera. You’ll just have to watch it to see what happens (and also to see a bunch of DC landmarks).

A Few Good Men

There are a lot of things going on behind closed doors, and in Washington DC there are a lot more closed doors than anywhere else. This story of Tom Cruises’ character, a JAG attorney defending two marines accused of murder, brings a world not possibly thought up by fiction to the fore. Apart from watching the scenes pass in the nation’s capital, you get a neat idea of the kinds of lives lived there.

The Exorcist

The exorcist

Image source ‘Exorcist stairs’: citronsmurf

This film is particularly good if you like to find the spots where scenes were filmed in order to snap photos of yourself there. So you’ll be visiting Georgetown if you want to find scenes from the Exorcist, a movie both potently spiritual and revealingly local. You’ll see plenty of Washington DC, but you’ll have to stomach the girl’s turning head as well.

Olympus has Fallen

If you’re interested in Washington DC but you don’t care much for it, then you won’t mind it getting destroyed in this most recent of films. The North Koreans finally build boats and planes enough to bring their giant army to the attack.

The More the Merrier

Jump back a few decades and immerse yourself in a WWII-era romantic comedy. This is a lighthearted film that should probably be your buffer between watching the former two films listed and actually going to Washington DC. Everyone likes comedy and most people like romance, and the city in question is the setting for plenty of dates.

Washington DC is mostly blown up, but in the films above, except for the second-to-last, it is simply the setting. These are the best films to watch before visiting Washington DC, because although you can find a cheap hostel through, you won’t want to sit on your bed watching these if you’re already there.

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