AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 11: President of the United States Barack Obama speaks during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Long Center on March 11, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for SXSW)
President Obama was a great pop culture president, with eclectic, mostly unassailable taste in movies, music and TV. (We weren't so into the mom jeans, but no one's perfect.) Here were some of his favorite things to watch.
Obama called the Baltimore, HBO drama “The Wire,” “one of the greatest, not just television shows, but pieces of art in the last couple of decades.” Obama sat down with the show’s creator David Simon to talk about how the drug and law enforcement challenges tackled on the show could provide solutions for the country at large.
And while Obama might consider “The Wire” the “best” show, his favorite is “M*A*S*H.” In an offhand comment, he revealed to a crowd in Minneapolis that the long-running anti-war comedy from the ‘70s was his favorite of all time.
Maybe he was playing it safe as a candidate, but back in 2008 Obama told Katie Couric that “The Godfather” Part 1 and Part 2 were his favorite movies. “There’s this combination of old-world gentility and ritual, with this savagery underneath. It’s all about family,” he said. As for Part 3? “Not so much.”
Also in his interview with Couric, Obama name-checked two other classics, “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Casablanca.” “Who doesn’t like ‘Casablanca?’” John McCain went with the Elia Kazan film “Viva Zapata.”
"Do the Right Thing"
At a screening celebrating the film’s 25th Anniversary, the Obamas said “Do the Right Thing” was the film they watched on their first official date. “He was trying to show me his sophisticated side by selecting an independent filmmaker,” Michelle said. (You can re-live their date by watching "Southside With You.")
Like so many others that year, except those in the Academy, Obama said that Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” was his favorite film of 2014.
20th Century Fox
Obama selected Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” as his favorite film of 2015, telling Wired: “It shows humans as problem solvers.” Among Obama’s other sci-fi favorites, he named…
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
It “captures the grandeur and scale of the unknown.”
“It asks what it means to be human.”
Columbia Pictures Corporation
"Close Encounters of the Third Kind"
“It is fundamentally optimistic.”
“It asks basic questions about our reality – and it looks very cool.”
20th Century Fox
"Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope"
“It was fun and revolutionized special effects.” (Obama used a screening of “Star Wars” for Gold Star families as an excuse to duck out of a press conference at the end of 2012.)
“Cosmos: A Personal Voyage”
When it came to TV shows, Obama was a big fan of Carl Sagan’s documentary series “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” adding it to his Wired list by saying it fed his “lifelong fascination with space.” Obama also recorded an intro for the new “Cosmos” series, “A Spacetime Odyssey.”
"Star Trek," the original series
Sorry Picard fans: the Trekkie in Chief is a fan of the original series. He’s been seen giving the Vulcan salute from time to time and told Uhura herself that he had a crush on her when he was younger.