Movies set or filmed in Washington D.C.

One of the things I like to do is to catch up on movies and books set or filmed in my travel destination.   There were so much history and of course there have been countless things written and produced centered around our nation’s capital and history.  Here’s a list of some movies…some are historic in nature but many are simply fictional stories that were set in D.C.   I’ve included films set or filmed in Washington D.C., some regarding our Presidents, and a few on American historical events.  I have also included a short list at the bottom in reference to the Holocaust, as I visited the Holocaust Museum in D.C.

Absolute Power (1997)


This movie is based on a novel and showcases the ruthlessness of people in power. A career thief witnesses a murder involving the President, who thinks he can do whatever without being reprimanded, and the Secret Service need him to keep quiet so they go on a hunt to find him, which isn’t an easy task. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.


Advise & Consent (1962)


The President gives his nomination for a new Secretary of State, and during the investigation into his nomination, it’s found that this candidate has a big secret from his past — a secret that could possibly ruin this candidate, as well as the character and integrity of the President. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.


Air Force One (1997)


In this political action film, the President goes to Moscow to give a speech about the United States’ zero tolerance policy with terrorism. On his way home to Washington, D.C. terrorists hijack his plane and take all passengers hostage, including his wife and daughter. But these hijackers are in for an unfortunate surprise, as this President has more skills than just knowing how to look good and be charismatic while giving speeches. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.


All the President’s Men (1976)


Two Washington Post reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, get assigned to a story by their editor, and they begin to uncover more and more details, which ultimately lead to the Watergate scandal and President Nixon’s resignation. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.

Based on the true story of the Watergate scandal.


The American President (1995)


This political movie involves another U.S. President but brings in a romantic aspect. The President is widowed but starts to fall in love with a lobbyist. His new love interest leaves room for one of his political opponents to attack him and his character. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.


Broadcast News (1987)


This plot of this movie revolves around a love triangle comprising of a female TV network news producer and two male rival TV reporters. The producer and network both have to choose between the two different styles of these men. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.


Clear and Present Danger (1994)


CIA Analyst Jack Ryan gets drawn into an illegal war being fought by the U.S. government and a Colombian drug cartel. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.
Collateral Damage (2002)


Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a firefighter whose wife and child are killed in a bombing by a known international terrorist. He goes on a hunt to find the man responsible and make him pay for what he did. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.
The Contender (2000)


A female senator is nominated to become the next U.S. Vice President, but she struggles with what to do as sexual secrets from her past are brought to light during the running. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.
Dave (1993)



A temp agency operator looks exactly like the President, so when the President wants to ditch an official luncheon, this President look-a-like fills in for him and ends up playing the role for a while after the President suffers a stroke. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.
Enemy of the State (1998)



A Washington, D.C. lawyer becomes the target of a corrupt politician after unknowingly receiving evidence to a serious political crime. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.
A Few Good Men (1992)


In this courtroom thriller from the 90s, Tom Cruise plays a Navy lawyer picked to defend two Marines accused of murdering a colleague. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.
G.I. Jane (1997)


A senator gets a female enrolled into the U.S. Navy’s elite (but very brutal) SEAL and C.R.T. training and selection program where everyone expects her to drop out like more than half of the males do, but she’s determined to prove all of her doubters wrong in the end. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.
In the Line of Fire (1993)


A Secret Service agent can’t forget about being one of the agents assigned to President Kennedy and not being able to save him when he was shot. Several years later, he does all he can to prevent that from happening again to the current President. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.
JFK (1991)



John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas, the perpetrator is arrested and then shot by a man who was avenging JFK’s death. A Louisiana DA believes and finds out there’s more to the story than that. Filmed or set in Washington D.C. Based on the true story of the Kennedy assassination
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)


Police detective John McClane teams up with a young hacker to bring down a cyber-terrorist in Washington, D.C. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.
No Way Out (1987)


Tom Farrell has an affair with Susan Atwell, who is also Secretary of Defense David Brice’s mistress, and she is later killed. Tom gets assigned to the case and has to find the killer before he becomes a suspect. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.
Patriot Games (1992)


Harrison Ford plays CIA Agent Jack Ryan again, but this time he interferes with an IRA assassination and then he and his family become the targets of a renegade group seeking revenge. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.
Rules of Engagement (2000)


Wounded Vietnam vet Hayes Hodges becomes a lawyer and goes up against the service defending a colonel who ordered his troops to fire on civilians after they stormed into a U.S. embassy in a third world country. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.
Salt (2010)


CIA Agent Evelyn Salt is well liked and respected, but when a Russian spy says she’s the assassin planning to murder the President of Russia, she must go on the run. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.
State of Play (2009)


A Congressional aid and a thief are each killed, and the deaths seem unrelated except to a newspaper reporter who senses a conspiracy and starts uncovering clues to a mess of a corporate situation that could risk his life to find out the whole story. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.
Thirteen Days (2000)


This film takes place in 1962 and showcases dramatized events during the Cuban Missile Crisis during President Kennedy’s term. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.  Based on the true story of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Wag the Dog (1997)


To cover up a presidential sex scandal, an adviser to the President teams up with a Hollywood producer to fabricate a war and give the President a better chance for re-election. Filmed or set in Washington D.C.
Vantage Point (2008)


The President: Henry Ashton (William Hurt) Taking a cue from Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 masterpiece Rashomon, this thriller recounts an assassination attempt on the president from eight different points of view (including those of Dennis Quaid, Forest Whitaker and Sigourney Weaver), replaying much of the same 25-minute period again and again while revealing new details each time. American Presidents.
The Conspirator (2010)



Following the assassination of President Lincoln, seven men and one woman are arrested and charged with conspiring to kill Lincoln, the vice president and the secretary of state. Lawyer Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy) reluctantly agrees to defend the lone woman, Mary Surratt (Robin Wright). Based on the true story of Mary Surratt’s involvement in the Lincoln Assassination
The Butler (2013)



The Butler (full title Lee Daniels’ The Butler) is a 2013 American historical drama film directed and produced by Lee Daniels and written by Danny Strong.  Loosely based on the real life of Eugene Allen, the film stars Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, an African-American who is a witness of notable political and social events of the 20th century during his 34-year tenure serving as a White House butler. American History.  Based on the real life story of Eugene Allen.
LBJ (1996)


LBJ is an American political drama film directed by Rob Reiner and written by Joey Hartstone. American Presidents.
Jefferson in Paris (1995)



Jefferson in Paris is a 1995 Franco-American historical drama film, directed by James Ivory, and previously entitled Head and Heart.

It was the first portrayal in film of Sally Hemings, and at the time some mainstream historians disputed Jefferson’s relationship with her. Since then a 1998 DNA study found a match between the male lines of Jefferson and Hemings descendants, and the historic consensus has shifted to acknowledging that Jefferson likely had a nearly 40-year liaison with Hemings and was the father of all her children, four of whom survived and were freed.

American Presidents
John Adams (miniseries) (2008)



John Adams is a 2008 American television miniseries chronicling most of U.S. President John Adams’ political life and his role in the founding of the United States. Paul Giamatti portrays John Adams. The biopic of John Adams and the story of the first fifty years of the United States was broadcast in seven parts by HBO between March 16 and April 20, 2008. American Presidents
Nixon (1995)



Nixon takes a look at a complex man whose chance of greatness was ultimately destroyed by his passion for power — when his involvement in conspiracy jeopardized the nation’s security and the presidency of the United States! American Presidents
Dick (1999)


After taking a wrong turn on a White House tour, teens Betsy Jobs (Dunst) and Arlene Lorenzo (Williams) stumble across a room packed full of presidential secrets. To find out exactly what the girls know, “Tricky Dick” Nixon (Hedaya) himself appoints them as official White House dog walkers American Presidents. A comedy/spoof.
Warm Springs (2005)



Warm Springs is a 2005 television film about U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s struggle with polio, his discovery of the Warm Springs, Georgia, spa resort and his work to turn it into a center for the aid of polio victims, and his resumption of his political career. Roosevelt’s emotional growth as he interacts with other disabled people at Warm Springs prepares him for the challenges he will face as President during the Great Depression. The film is not a remake of Sunrise at Campobello American History
12 Years a Slave (2013)


This is the story of Solomon Northup, a free black man in New York who was kidnapped and enslaved for twelve years before he was able to get word to his family in the North and be rescued.


American History
Gettysburg (1993)


This is an accurate and compelling description of the battle which many historians believe turned the tide in the Civil War. It’s very long. American History
Lincoln (2012)


This is the best portrayal of Abraham Lincoln on film. The movie focuses on his efforts to obtain passage in the House of Representatives of the 13th Amendment banning slavery. TWM’s lesson plan for this film covers the efforts in the U.S. to emancipate the slaves culminating in the 13th Amendment and the removal of Constitutional protections for slavery. American Presidents
Flags of Our Fathers (2000)



An excellent description of the Battle of Iwo Jima and an examination of the meaning of heroism. American History
Remember the Titans (2000)


And this is how it is when the nation’s effort to end racism and heal the wounds of decades of discrimination really works. American History
Spotlight (2015)


Spotlight is an accurate portrayal of the Boston Globe’s groundbreaking expose that broke open a worldwide sex abuse cover-up scandal that has engulfed the Catholic Church and tarnished other religious organizations. While reforms have been made in churches throughout the world and billions of dollars paid to victims, occasionally an effort to cover up clergy sex abuse still comes to light. In addition, victim advocacy groups, who have been right about this problem in the past, claim that some religious organizations although asserting they have reformed, continue to resist the changes necessary to fully protect children and women in their congregations. American History
Schindler’s List (1993)


In German-occupied Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazi Germans. The Holocaust
Sophie’s Choice (1982)



After spending time with his new neighbors, an aspiring writer realizes they are harboring deep secrets that will forever change him. The Holocaust
Life Is Beautiful (1997)


When an open-minded Jewish librarian and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humor and imagination to protect his son from the dangers around their camp. The Holocaust
The Pianist (2002)


A Polish Jewish musician struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II. The Holocaust
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)


Set during WWII, a story seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a German concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences. The Holocaust
The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)


When the war began, she was only a little girl. When it ended, she was the voice of a generation… A compassionate and sensitive televisual portrait of the Holocaust’s greatest diarist. The Holocaust


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