For the land of the free and the home of the brave we present
CraveOnline‘s picks for 13 Great Patriotic Films for Independence Day, featuring some of the most celebrated and celebratory movies about America ever made. The Fourth of July is the perfect time to set aside our differences, if only for a day, to honor the country that gives everyone in it the right to complain about everything that’s wrong with our country, so we’re taking a look at films that honor the United States, its citizens, its soldiers, its immigrants, its heroes and its politicians, usually without shying away from all the problems America has had to overcome, and still faces in the years ahead. So get your flag, set up up DVD player and get ready to sing “America (Fuck Yeah!)” with all these great patriotic films.
William Bibbiani is the editor of
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13 Great Patriotic Films for Independence Day
Colonize your weekend movie marathon with 13 films that make us sing, "America (F**k Yeah)!"
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Italian immigrant Frank Capra's films have become nearly synonymous with American values, but none were more inspirational than this classic underdog story about idealistic Senator Jefferson Smith (James Stewart), who didn't notice the corruption in Washington D.C. until it was nearly too late.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington almost comes across as hopelessly cynical until its hopeful, remarkable filibuster finale.
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
James Cagney gave one of his finest performances as song and dance man George M. Cohan, who wrote "You're A Grand Old Flag," "Over There" and the classic title number, and who lived a life that was damn near as inspiring as his timeless songs.
The ultimate rags to riches story, for its title character as well as a then-unknown actor/screenwriter named Sylvester Stallone, gives a has-been palooka one last shot at the American Dream, courtesy of a condescending boxing champ who has no idea he's in for the fight of his life.
An American Tail (1986)
Don Bluth's Dickensian immigration fable finds an adorable Russian mouse named Fievel separated from his family and fending for himself amongst the harsh sociopolitical realities of late 19th Century America.
An American Tale is beautifully animated tearjerker about the struggle to turn the land of opportunity into a home.
The long untold story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry - the first all African-American unit in the U.S. Army - came to incredible life in Edward Zwick's Civil War epic.
Glory spends too much time with its white protagonist, played by Matthew Broderick, but it really comes to life when the focus shifts to co-stars Morgan Freeman, Andre Braugher and Denzel Washington, who won his first Oscar for playing the unyielding Private Silas Tipp.
Ivan Reitman's political comedy
Dave is so Capraesque it actually feels like it could have been made by Frank Capra. Kevin Kline (never better) plays President Bill Mitchell and naive presidential lookalike Dave Kovic, who winds up in the Oval Office for real to save the debilitated POTUS from a political scandal. Dave enjoys all the whimsical perks of the position, but gets into trouble when he starts actually fixing the country.
Apollo 13 (1995)
One of America's finest hours came to the screen courtesy of director Ron Howard, who made
Apollo 13 his finest hour as well. Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon play the ill-fated astronauts of the title mission, and with the help of a group of dedicated flight control specialists (led by an Oscar-nominated Ed Harris) overcome seemingly impossible odds to get home safely.
Air Force One (1997)
The President's personal plane has been hijacked by terrorists, but they didn't count on one thing... the President himself? American badass Harrison Ford took the highest position in the land and kicked the highest possible amount of butt against a deliciously malevolent Gary Oldman in Wolfgang Peterson's patriotic 1997 thrill ride.
Michael Bay's patriotic blockbuster thrill ride may be utter nonsense, but it stills works because the filmmaker has never felt more sincere about the material (even when he tried his darnedest in 2001's
Pearl Harbor). A planet-killing asteroid is on a collision course with Earth, and only the combined efforts of blue-collar American deep-core oil riggers and NASA can save the day. Bay's melodramatic slow-mo and power ballad soundtrack will bring a tear to your eye even as you shake your head at how ridiculous everything on screen really is.
National Treasure (2004)
Director Jon Turteltaub made learning (about wacky American History conspiracy theories) fun in this 2004 adventure starring Nicolas Cage as a historian who has to steal the Declaration of Independence to save it from bad guys looking for the Founding Fathers' hidden stash of gold. It's a goofy
Indiana Jones rip-off without a single ounce of shame, but it's actually a pretty good one.
Team America: World Police (2004)
"South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone took on post-9/11 Manifest Destiny hysteria, and the results were deeply critical of conservatives and liberals alike, and funny as all hell.
Team America: World Police was shot entirely with marionette puppets, just to make sure nobody took any of America's nonsense too seriously.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
The classic comic book character finally came to the big screen in a faithful adaptation (avoid the embarrassing 1990 version if you can), and the result was a rip-roaring World War II adventure yarn about a good-hearted but physically impaired young boy who became America's greatest hero. Just try to ignore the irony that America used eugenics to create a blonde-haired, blue-eyed overman to prevent the Nazis from doing the exact same thing and you'll have a really, really good time.
Steven Spielberg's best film in years tells the story of the 16th President of the United States, played by an incredible Daniel Day-Lewis, and his uphill, ethically murky political machinations to finally abolish slavery at the height of the Civil War. A spectacular supporting cast and a remarkably even-handed historical account make
Lincoln an immediate, patriotic classic.