Network: HBO
Director: Jay Roach
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Denis Leary, Laura Dern, Tom Wilkinson, John Hurt

Recount is a great example of the importance of the made-for-TV medium. Had director Jay Roach’s lively account of the miscounted Florida votes that decided the George W. Bush/Al Gore presidential election debuted in theaters, it would have most likely tanked; political dramas, much like Iraq War flicks, are, more often than not, box office poison. But on cable TV, where domestic and worldwide grosses aren’t the measuring sticks for success, Recount thrived quite well.

And for good reason. Starring a buoyant Kevin Spacey, as well as a vibrant ensemble of showy co-stars, Recount presents a topic that could have been played dryly, and strictly for stuffed-shirt MSNBC viewers, as a slapstick flick without any actual pratfalls or physical comedy—the laughs come from painful realities, such as how the ineptitude of a few people ultimately led to moronic George W. Bush’s presidential victory. Whether that makes you giggle or weep depends on your political stance.