Frontrunners (2008)




Critic Consensus: Frontrunners offers poignant insights into the high school power structure, with more than a few parallels to the current U.S. election.

Movie Info

As the teenage politicians at one of the most prestigious publics schools in the United States begin campaigning for the position of student body president, filmmaker Caroline Suh draws parallels between high-school politics and their real-world counterpart. It seems that the only difference between these burgeoning politicians and the folks vying for a position in the White House is that after a long day of tireless campaigning and endless photo ops, these youngsters have to do their homework, … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Drama, Special Interest
Directed By:
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 20, 2009
Oscilloscope Pictures - Official Site



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Critic Reviews for Frontrunners

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (13)

The film sets just the right tone: with inventive music choices and wonderfully piquant moments plucked from what must have been hundreds of hours of footage, Frontrunners is consistently entertaining.

Full Review… | October 24, 2008
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Perhaps it's the bright, decent, appealing kids seen here, or just the idyllic portrait Suh paints of student life at Manhattan's prestigious Stuyvesant High School that gives the picture its charm.

Full Review… | October 24, 2008
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

The kids now know how to play the game of college admissions, but they seem more jaded by their knowledge than entitled to success. And their exasperation with the process, their peers, and themselves is endlessly, illuminatingly watchable.

Full Review… | October 24, 2008
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Sure, it's a skewed view through adolescent eyes, but it's one that still speaks to the aspirations, agendas, image-making and spin control behind a real, grown-up political election.

Full Review… | October 23, 2008
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

The student election plays out as a microcosm of the race for the Oval Office.

Full Review… | October 17, 2008
New York Post
Top Critic

These candidates work hard and play fair, and when they screw up or slack off, they accept the consequences without complaint. Simply because, they believe, that's the way things should be done.

Full Review… | October 17, 2008
New York Daily News
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Frontrunners

This is not a particularly groundbreaking story, and the ending is pretty predictable, but I just like documentaries about high school. George is just unique enough to be interesting, and just cliche enough to be believable. I kind of had a crush on Michael, and I think Hannah's "Choose the Chicks" thing was adorable. Basically, I just kind of really want to go to Stuyvesant. And Columbia. Unfortunately, I can do neither. Wow I'm depressed.

Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

FRONTRUNNERS is a smart and funny political documentary that follows the student council presidential campaign at one of the country's most prestigious public high schools: Stuyvesant High School in New York City.

An entertaining and symbolic campaign film, put forth in classic verité style, we follow four charming and idiosyncratic candidates as they navigate an electoral process that is said to be one of the most competitive at the high school level. These teenaged candidates face the same issues as candidates of any age, such as picking the 'right' running mate, shaking as many hands as possible, preparing for televised debates, impressing the pundits and journalistic community, addressing sensitive race-related issues, and mobilizing an apathetic voter base.

A microcosm of the U.S. Presidential elections, Caroline Suh's film shows politicking and pluralities through the lens of the adolescent experience.

kylie jeunette

This is a decent doc. Although I couldn?t get over how annoying these kids were (they are definitely not the kids I wanted to hang out with in school, and I don?t mean just the candidates, the whole school), there is definitely an interesting story behind them. And the process of becoming president is fairly entertaining. I can honestly say I don?t know who the school president was at my graduating high school. I was only really friends with 1 person in student council. It just wasn?t my thing and at the time I thought I would be made fun of for having those friends. However, I think this would have been the same story for this school any year, so it doesn?t have that lucky timing charm.

But it is well made. The filmmakers may find a better subject, and I would definitely watch it, or if it was a subject I was interested in, get excited about it. And the saving grace of the movie is the telling of the history of the school. Interesting stuff.

Lee B

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