Presidents’ early lives on screen: 5 movies or miniseries to watch

(CNN)The new movie “Southside With You” depicts a young Barack and Michelle Obama, long before they were living in the White House. It’s just the latest movie or miniseries about U.S. presidents before they earned that title.

Obviously, there’s no shortage of movies devoted to presidents in office, most recently HBO’s Emmy-nominated “All the Way” and Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.” Others, like “Amistad” and”Frost/Nixon,” have dealt with stories that involved commanders-in-chief after they left office.
As for seeing presidents before they rose to greatness (sometimes incorporating the time they served), the pickings are a bit slimmer. And some — like Oliver Stone’s “W.,” and”Ike: Countdown to D-Day,” a TV movie starring Tom Selleck as Dwight Eisenhower — are pretty forgettable.


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With that in mind, here are five suggestions that might not be perfect, but are, historically or dramatically, worth the time:


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“John Adams” (2008): HBO devoted nine hours to this seven-part adaptation of David McCullough’s 700-page biography, starring Paul Giamatti in the title role, Laura Linney as his wife Abigail and Stephen Dillane (“Game of Thrones”) as Thomas Jefferson.
The project encompasses the full scope of Adams’ public life, beginning with his entry into politics, the Continental Congress and his journey to France, as well as the indignities associated with being Vice President.
Produced by Tom Hanks, it’s a handsome if stiff undertaking, meticulously recreating the period and language in ways that, just as a viewing proposition, make it both fascinating and at times challenging.

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