"The Dead President"
Directed by Mike Nichols
Written by David E. Kelley
John Travolta (Brian McDaniels)
Jeff Bridges (President Calvin Winchell)
James Spader (Brody Laramie)
Catherine Keener (Olivia Nordlan)
Frank Whaley (Sam Candalack)
Jeremy Piven (Eric Klambler)
Patricia Wettig (Marianne Winchell)
Chandra Wilson (Diane Hatteras)
Channing Tatum (Ryan Davidovitch)
Ron Rifkin (Porter Washburn)
Tagline: "Leadership is dying. Justice is hiding. Corruption is growing"
Synopsis: After President Calvin Winchell (Jeff Bridges) learns that a tumor in his brain has left him with mere months to live, he faces a national dilemma. Should he step down and let the next guy take over even though he is perfectly capable of carrying out his duties? The President decides against that and announces his condition to the public and his intention to remain in office until it kills him. But this statement causes an uproar in Washington when Eric Klambler (Jeremy Piven), a conservative senator with aims to become President, suggests that the President is incapacitated and he should be removed from office. The case is brought before the Supreme Court under the leadership of Porter Washburn (Ron Rifkin), a staunch opposer to President Winchell’s ideas. The President hires Brian McDaniels (John Travolta) to defend him while Klambler uses Sam Candalack (Frank Whaley), the Assistant District Attorney. Courtroom drama ensues as the two lawyers battle it out while interrogating the President’s secretary (Chandra Wilson), his personal bodyguard (Channing Tatum), his wife (Patricia Wettig), and even the President himself. In the meantime, Klambler has hired Brody Laramie (James Spader), a notorious advertising executive, to produce a smear campaign against the President to sway public opinion in his favor. Laramie uses heinous tactics, like claiming that the President is having an affair with the well-known owner (Catherine Keener) of an escort service. Drama, deception, corruption and much more arrive as one man tries to defy his mortality to make a difference in the world.
What the Press would say:
In Mike Nichols’ new political drama, a man faces the ultimate challenge when the rest of the world believes he is too weak for his job. David E. Kelley’s script is witty and heartbreaking and the stuff that Oscar are made of. And the performances are amazing, even from people who have minimal screentime. Patricia Wettig shines as the First Lady who is called to testify for her husband but ends up hurting his case. Chandra Wilson delivers an amazing performance as the President’s secretary who is constantly blamed for numerous mistakes. Her courtroom breakdown scene is more than tear-enducing. James Spader and Jeremy Piven each play vile characters with such ease that it is scary. John Travolta shines in the courtroom scenes as a mean, but good-intentioned attorney, but he is constantly upstaged by Frank Whaley as the other lawyer who uses his wit and sarcasm to confuse witnesses. Jeff Bridges delivers the performance of his career as the President who faces an external, as well as internal, dilemma once people start believing that he cannot do his job. “The Dead President” is a thrilling, legal movie that is bound be remembered as one of the greatest.
Best Director-Clint Eastwood
Best Original Screenplay
Best Actor-Jeff Bridges
Best Actor-John Travolta
Best Supporting Actor-Jeremy Piven
Best Supporting Actor-James Spader
Best Supporting Actor-Frank Whaley
Best Supporting Actress-Patricia Wettig
Best Supporting Actress-Chandra Wilson