7.0/10
21,606
373 user 140 critic

The Contender (2000)

Trailer
3:15 | Trailer

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Senator Laine Hanson is a contender for U.S. Vice President, but information and disinformation about her past surfaces that threatens to derail her confirmation.

Director:

Rod Lurie

Writer:

Rod Lurie
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 20 nominations. See more awards »

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Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gary Oldman ... Shelly Runyon
Joan Allen ... Laine Hanson
Jeff Bridges ... President Jackson Evans
Christian Slater ... Reginald Webster
Sam Elliott ... Kermit Newman
William Petersen ... Jack Hathaway
Saul Rubinek ... Jerry Tolliver
Philip Baker Hall ... Oscar Billings
Mike Binder ... Lewis Hollis
Robin Thomas ... William Hanson
Mariel Hemingway ... Cynthia Charlton Lee
Kathryn Morris ... Paige Willomina
Kristen Shaw ... Fiona Hathaway
Douglas Urbanski ... Makerowitz
Noah Fryrear Noah Fryrear ... Timmy
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Storyline

A political thriller about Laine Hanson, a Senator who is nominated to become Vice President following the death of the previous office holder. During the confirmation process, Laine is the victim of a vicious attack on her personal life in which stories of sexual deviancy are spread. She is torn as to whether she should fight back, or stick to her high principles and refuse to comment on the allegations. Written by Ted Johnson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Welcome To The Greatest Show On Earth See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | Germany | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 October 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La conspiración See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,363,900, 15 October 2000, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$17,872,723

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$22,361,811
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The idea for the film came about when Rod Lurie was presenting an award to Joan Allen when he joked that he should write a screenplay for her so she could win another one. Allen told him at the awards ceremony that if he did write a screenplay, she would read it. Spurred on by this encouragement, Lurie set to the task, completing his script in just a couple of weeks. See more »

Goofs

Timmy Hanson says "being the vice president is better than being the president...'cause nobody wants to shoot the vice president." That isn't quite true. In 1804 sitting vice president Aaron Burr infamously dueled against former secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton's shot missed Burr while Burr's shot mortally wounded Hamilton, who died the next day. Burr was later tried for murder but acquitted. However, the character who says this is six years old, and probably does not have such an extensive history knowledge. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Jack Hathaway: Well, I bet you've been getting a lot of Churchills. Probably Mandela. Some DeGaulles. But I'd have to go with Anwar Sadat.
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Crazy Credits

For our daughters See more »

Connections

References The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) See more »

Soundtracks

Ring Of Fire
Written by June Carter Cash (as June Carter) and Merle Kilgore
Performed by Jeff Bridges and Kim Carnes
Courtesy Of Ramp Records, LLC.
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User Reviews

 
Riveting performances and a thought-provoking story. One of the best movies of the year. **** (out of four)
27 December 2000 | by Movie-12See all my reviews

THE CONTENDER / (2000) **** (out of four)

After our recent presidential conflicts, Rod Lurie's political drama, "The Contender" is of the most timely and uncommonly absorbing movies this year, even though we may be sick and tired of politics. The film examines political figures and their stand of such controversial issues like abortion, infidelities, and even Clinton's impeachment trial, making this production feel real, as if a behind the scenes look at a sex scandal in Washington DC because it is so well written and portrayed. Interlaced with much thought-provoking material and Academy Award worthy performances, "The Contender" is one of the best pictures of the year.

As the film opens, the country's vice president has recently died, leaving Democratic President Jackson Evans (Jeff Bridges), who is near the end of his final term, choosing a vice president for replacement. Although he recently bared his courage in a failed attempt to save a woman from drowning, Governor Jack Hathaway (William L. Peterson) is turned down by President Evens. Instead, Evens wants to leave a legacy by selecting a woman as vice president, thus chooses a Senator who currently shifted from the Republican party to the Democratic party, Laine Hanson (Joan Allen). The Republican confirmation committee chairman, Shelly Runyon (Gary Oldman), thinks Evans' choice to be self-dignified and inaccurate, and desires Hathaway to take the place of the vice president.

"The Contender" begins on a strong note, only displaying the necessary events. We do not witness the death of the original vice-president because it is not important. We do get to see the heroic action of Governor Hathaway, however, squarely because this event, concluding with a shocking twist, plays a vital role in the movie at a later time. Through brilliant directing and editing, the story provides an increasing amount of tension within the characters, especially the Joan Allen and Jeff Bridges characters.

In a cruel attempt to prove the insecurities of the vice-presidential candidate, Runyon uncovers information that places Hanson's morality in question. The situation is whether or not she participated in public sex with two men (at the same time) while 19 years of age in college. The information is leaked to the press, while Runyon uses the discussion to bring the subject in the hearings. "What I say the American people will believe. And do you know why? Because I will have a very big microphone in front of me," states Runyon. The democrats are extremely weary over this case because 1) they know Runyon's statement is true and 2) Hanson refuses to acknowledge anything regarding her alleged sexual adventures. Even so, the president supports his candidate.

The movie succeeds with its accurate and involving performances. Joan Allen is Award material in a performance that is tense, taut, and engaging. Christian Slater is frantic and energetic as a novice reporter. Jeff Bridges is entirely convincing as the President of the United States. His prestige is convincing and he exhibits a powerful, detailed attitude, resulting in a superb performance. Gary Oldman is perfect with a sly, cunningly cocky and self-confident performance that fits his character extremely well; there is a very real possbility his work will be remembered come Academy Award time.

"The Contender" succeeds to a high degree because it makes us to examine our own beliefs and possible reactions to such a pragmatic issue; would we, as individuals, want a vice-president who is a sleaze ball, or as a character puts it "with a mouth full of c*ck." What makes the film even more extraordinarily enthralling is that it never until the end reveals whether Laine actually did participate in the immoral acts. This is a very thought-provoking story, full of surprising twists and a meaningful message.


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