Modern Matinees: The Body Politic

Nov 2–30, 2016


W. 2008. USA. Directed by Oliver Stone. Courtesy Lionsgate/Photofest

To celebrate election season, Modern Matinees takes a look at elections, candidates, politicians, constituents, rivals, dissenters, lobbyists, and media pundits in films drawn largely from MoMA’s collection. From the spellbinding intrigue of The Manchurian Candidate (1962) to the biting irony of Wag the Dog (1997), both drama and parody cannily reflect what we see on the evening news. Oliver Stone’s presidential trio of JFK (1991), Nixon (1995), and W (2008) capture the characters of the presidents through persuasive performances—and the cultural zeitgeist as well. While contemporary films may present cheeky, irreverent, or critical portraits of the Oval Office and its inhabitants, classics like D. W. Griffith’s Abraham Lincoln (1930) offer a more reverential, obliging view. Counter Griffith’s take on the 16th president with the effortless comedy Kisses for My President, in which POTUS is a Mrs. and her husband must entertain at tea parties in the Rose Garden. Motion pictures broadly reflect the age in which we live, and that’s certainly true of the films in Modern Matinees: The Body Politic.

Organized by Anne Morra, Associate Curator, Department of Film.

  • This film series is part of Modern Matinees.

    The exhibition is supported by the Annual Film Fund.


    If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

    MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

    If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


    This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].