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What’s more American than hunkering down and watching a slew of patriotic movies? Instead of wading through the wide array of films constantly being released, settle down with a few classic patriotic movies and celebrate Democracy. For your convenience, we have assembled the most best patriotic movies of all time. Ranging from alien invasions to docudramas, this ultimate guide has movies for all tastes. Sit back and enjoy these incredibly patriotic films while you wave your American flag high in the air.
Marvel’s Captain America may be the most patriotic man on earth! Puny Steve Rodgers enlists in the US Army during the second World War and ends up in an experimental program that turns him into the perfect superhuman soldier. He then goes on to fight the Nazi-backed HYDRA organization. Starring Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, and Stanley Tucci, the 2011 film has become a critical and commercial hit. It has spawned two stand alone sequels, the second of which was released in 2016, and had Chris Evans reprise the character in both The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. There’s really nothing more patriotic than watching a super muscular man in a red, white, and blue leotard take down Nazis with his American flag shield.
If you really want to swell with national pride, Miracle is the movie for you. The 2004 docudrama chronicles the 1980 young US men’s Olympic hockey team as they face off against the experienced and seemingly unbeatable Soviet team. While the actual events took place in the 80s, the same themes from the Cold War echo today. Kurt Russell portrays US Olympic coach Herb Brooks while Eddie Cahill, Patrick O’Brien Demsey, and Michael Mantenuto portray US hockey legends Jim Craig, Mike Eruzione, and Jack O’Callahan. Although Miracle is based on true events, it still seems like a Hollywood story because of the beautifully poignant emotions it evokes.
What’s America without aliens and explosions? This 1996 film follows an unlikely group of people and their quest to survive an alien attack on earth on the 4th of July. The legendary cast includes Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Puillman, Randy Quaid, Vivica A. Fox, and Harry Connick Jr. Independence Day was the highest grossing film of 1996, earning $104.3 million in its first full week. The film has continued to be so popular that it spawned a sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence. While most of the original cast is slated to return in the sequel, some big names have been left out, including Will Smith.
“I feel the need… the need for speed!” This memorable quote comes from Top Gun, a film that stars a young Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, and Kelly McGillis. Cruise’s character Maverick attends the Top Gun Naval Fighter Weapons School where he rubs all the other pilots-in-training the wrong way. When it was released in 1986, the film was praised for the aerial footage during the dogfights and won multiple awards for its sound and effects. Like Independence Day’s sequel, it was announced in June of 2015 that Top Gun would also have a sequel that might star Tom Cruise again. In March of 2016 these rumors were confirmed, and Tom Cruise will indeed play Maverick in Top Gun 2.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, American Sniper became the highest grossing R-rated film of all time not long after its release, earned six Academy Award nominations, and won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Sound Editing in 2015. Bradley Cooper’s transformation into Chris Kyle, a US Navy SEAL who served four years in Iraq and became one of the deadliest snipers in the Iraq War, is incredible to watch and resonates a strong sense of patriotism in viewers. The review on Rotten Tomatoes states: “Powered by Clint Eastwood's sure-handed direction and a gripping central performance from Bradley Cooper, American Sniper delivers a tense, vivid tribute to its real-life subject.”
This 1989 film is about the first all-black regiment in the American Civil War, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. It stars Matthew Broderick as Col. Robert Gould Shaw, Cary Elwes as junior officer Cabot Forbes, Denzel Washington as defiant soldier Trip, and Morgan Freeman as gravedigger John Rawlins. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards and won three including a win for Denzel Washington for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Glory was hailed as a tribute to the often overlooked and unaccredited black soldiers who fought on the side of the Union to make this country what it is today, so it is sure to evoke overwhelming feelings of heroism. This film is certainly for the patriotic history buffs out there interested in the American Civil War.
Air Force One
Who wouldn’t want to live in a world where the mighty Harrison Ford is president? Air Force One, the 1997 film about US-Russian relations, stars Ford, Gary Oldman, Glenn Close, and William H. Macy. When Ford boards Air Force One after making a speaking in Moscow about never negotiating with terrorists, terrorists hijack the flight and endanger the president and his family. Suspenseful and political at the same time, the smart film keeps viewers on their toes. It even has the approval of former president Bill Clinton who stated he saw the film twice while in office and gave it good reviews. It was nominated for two Academy Awards and garnered positive reviews from viewers and critics alike.
“They may take our lives but they’ll never take our freedom!” Wait, wrong film. Mel Gibson might be best known for Braveheart but The Patriot is another one of his most famous films. The film takes place during the American Revolution with Gibson playing Benjamin Martin, a man who is forced to join the war and fight Redcoats. A young Heath Ledger stars as Martin’s son Gabriel, Jason Isaacs (who is better known as Harry Potter’s Lucius Malfoy), Joely Richardson, Chris Cooper, and Tom Wilkinson. As with many of Gibson’s films, The Patriot garnered a lot of criticism because of who the characters were based on, such as Benjamin Martin being based off a militia leader in South Carolina who was both a racist and a rapist. However, the 2000 film has positive reviews from viewers.
Saving Private Ryan
This 1998 film is hailed as one of the best war films of all time. Starring Tom Hanks, Edward Burns, Matt Damon, and Tom Sizemore, the film follows Hank’s Captain John Miller as he takes his team behind enemy lines during World War II to rescue Private Ryan. It is best known for its graphic and realistic portrayal of war, especially because the first 27 minutes of the film document the bloody Omaha Beach Assault of 1944. While the film is credited with stimulating a resurgence in interest of World War II, it was also nominated for 11 Academy Award and took home five Oscars including Best Cinematography, Best Director, and Best Film Editing. This film is truly not for the faint of heart but it will renew and enhance your national pride no matter when you watch it.
Although the film itself is not very patriotic, what The Interview stands for is incredibly important. The 2014 film is about an American talk show host and his producer going to North Korea to interview Kim Jong Un but they are actually on a mission from the CIA to kill the tyrannous leader. There was a lot of controversy surrounding this storyline and as the premiere date grew closer, North Korean leaders warned the US against showing the film in theaters. While this and the Sony hack prompted the company and theaters to refuse to show the movie, President Obama spoke out against Sony’s actions and said, “We cannot have a society in which some dictator in some place can start imposing censorship in the United States. I wish they'd spoken to me first. I would have told them: Do not get into the pattern in which you are intimidated.” Soon after, smaller cinemas and online streaming companies such as Netflix aired the film. The Interview is patriotic because it represents our ability to exercise freedom of speech and creative expression in our country.