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The Contender
The Contender
Actors: Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges, Sam Elliott, Philip Baker Hall, Kathryn Morris
Director: Rod Lurie
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
R     2001     2hr 6min

When the truth becomes a weapon, power comes at a stunning price. Gary Oldman, Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges and Christian Slater deliver electrifying performances in this controversial, suspenseful and critically-acclaimed th...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges, Sam Elliott, Philip Baker Hall, Kathryn Morris
Director: Rod Lurie
Creators: Denis Maloney, Larry Groupe
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Dreamworks Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 03/06/2001
Original Release Date: 01/01/2000
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2000
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 2hr 6min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 2
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Michel D. (michelann) from WALNUT GROVE, MO
Reviewed on 5/16/2016...
WOW! This is a timely movie to watch around major election time! Great casting puts Joan Allen in the very human position of having sex when single! She is accused of adultery yet she was a single college gal when she made a few sexual indiscretions (she fooled around with some frat boys). Years later she is a Senator and chosen for a fast track opportunity to be VP to the President of the US, Jeff Bridges. Gary Oldman steals the show portraying head of the conformation committee as well as a jealous rival who wants the power for himself! Very riveting thriller that makes one think... and that's a good thing!
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Gerard T. McGuire | 10/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In this election year, THE CONTENDER hits the mark as a well done political drama. Outstanding performances and a well conceived plot make this movie a possible oscar vehicle for some of its stars.Jeff Bridges plays the president of The United States who is faced with a monumental decision: his vice president has died and he must soon name a nominee as the successor. After some good candidates are left by the wayside he chooses a powerful female senator played by Joan Allen as his nominee. During the confirmation proceedings it is learned that the senator has an alleged naughty sexual past. Gary Oldman plays the head of the confirmation committee that is hell bent on destroying her image and leading the charge to have her nomination dissaproved. When the good senator refuses to answer any and all questions regarding her personal life, it leads to some tense moments between her and the president's staff. The slanderous campaign against her is thickened by some dirty play by another contender for the nomination. A surprise ending is all it took to clinch this as a must see movie.As I said, the plot is well thought out and brilliantly told in this script. The performances are solid all the way around. Joan Allen may find herself with an oscar nomination but even she is outshined by Gary Oldman. He is villanous, he is ruthless, he is just perfect in this role. I wouldnt be surprised if he took the best supporting Oscar statue for this character (at least based on what I have seen so far this year).Everything about this movie is done right. I have seen it in the theatre and I will be adding it to my home collection. Watch it as soon as you can!"
Boomer narcissism ...
John Galt | St. Louis, Missouri | 03/28/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)

"See Joan Allen give her stirring confirmation speech touting all the current left-wing goals(no guns, no smoking, no religion, pro-choice, pro-campaign finance reform, yadda yadda) But when asked why she changed from a Republican to a Democrat she states it was the party that changed, not her. Huh?...Her defiance to answering any questions on her supposed past indiscretions rests on the lofty principle that women should also have the freedom to participate in fraternity orgies and not have it reflect on their character. Oh yeah, and anyone who expects more from their leaders is a hypocrite. Joan Allen does a great job promoting moral relativism, acting earnest, and looking great in an evening gown."
A Political Story About Process, Not Ideology
A. Bowdoin Vanriper | Marietta, GA USA | 08/04/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Political junkies will have a wonderful time with _The Contender_, relishing its vivid characters, fancy political footwork, and twist-laden story. It's one of the best films in recent years about the *process* (as opposed to the content) of politics: a worthy addition to classics like _Mr. Smith Goes to Washington_, _Advise and Consent_, and _Wag The Dog_. If that's your cup of tea, add at least half-a-star to the four I've given it.

The four stars are for the viewer who's *not* a political junkie and just wants two hours of entertainment. _The Contender_ delivers that, with an impressively complex script and a large cast of interesting characters played to the hilt by first-rate actors who all seem to be having a great time. Jeff Bridges, in particular, is a revelation as the President. The film's flaws are matters of degree: the plot has one too many conveniently timed surprises and Gary Oldman's character, Rep. Shelby Runyon, is brilliantly *played* but underwritten.

When _The Contender_ came out in 2000, it was widely assumed to be a commentary on the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. It is, but it's also a commentary on many similar episodes: the failed nominations of John Tower, Robert Bork, Lani Guinier, and Zoe Baird; the savaging of both Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill; and the toppling of Speakers of the House Tom Foley and Newt Gingrich. Writer-director Rod Lurie is clearly outraged by what's become known as "the politics of personal destruction," and he attacks it savagely and convincingly here. His outrage is refreshingly non-partisan: The villains of his story are not *defined* by their party or their ideology, but by their willingness to abandon their principles for petty political gains.

It would be easy to write this movie off as another Hollywood story about saintly liberals and evil conservatives . . . easy, but wrong. Reverse the political polarity of the story (make Joan Allen's character a staunch conservative and Gary Oldman's a solid liberal) and, with very little adjustment, it still "works" and the same message still comes through: at the end of the day, there *are* things more important than winning.