To celebrate the Fourth of July, we went looking for films with a patriotic flair. Stories that make us want to wave a flag, set off fireworks, and cheer the birth of our nation and all the wonderful things it has to offer. So, pass out the sparklers and prepare to feel that all American pride!
Saving Private Ryan’ (1998)
Set during the D-Day invasion of Normandy in WWII, Saving Private Ryan is arguably one of the most popular war epics. Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring well-known actors such as Tom Hanks, Edward Burns, and Matt Damon, the film takes you on a rollercoaster ride as Captain Miller (Hanks) takes his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat. Surrounded by the brutal realities of war, each man embarks upon a personal journey and discovers their own strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honor, decency, and courage.
Peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin is driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the American Revolution when a merciless British officer murders his son. Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) is a widowed farmer, with a brave but violent military past. Although he has set his mind on being a pacifist, that all changes when his son enlists and is later captured by the enemy. He forms a regiment of Carolina patriots, whose guerrilla tactics prove pivotal to the US war effort.
Forrest Gump (1994)
This comedy-drama is an all-time classic and favorite of many. The film’s depiction of American history through the eyes of the main character, Gump has been viewed by some critics as the ultimate representation of patriotism, perseverance, and having empathy for others. The film earned Tom Hanks his second Oscar win.
The Right Stuff (1983)
This adaptation of the non-fiction novel by Tom Wolfe chronicles the first 15 years of America’s space program. By focusing on the lives of the Mercury astronauts, including John Glenn (Ed Harris) and Alan Shepard (Scott Glenn), the film describes the dangers and frustrations faced by those involved with NASA’s earliest achievements. It also shows their family lives and the personal crises they endured during an era of great political turmoil and technological innovation. Chronicling the early years of the U.S. expedition into the Space Race, this thrilling story of innovation and the American spirit takes us straight to the stars.
Top Gun (1986)
Thanks to one very cocky fighter pilot named Maverick (Tom Cruise), 1980s America never felt better about itself—or its military might. Tom Cruise as Maverick is the grinning poster boy of red-white-and-blue independence (“I feel the need…the need for speed”), defying his superiors, teasing his rivals, and, of course, getting the girl.
Red Dawn’ (1984)
Set in an alternate reality where the United States has been invaded by the Soviets and NATO has been disbanded, this action film is about a group of teenagers trying to save their small Colorado town from the invasion. It stars many well known actors and actresses including Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Jennifer Grey, Leah Thompson, and C. Thomas Howell. A remake of the film starring Chris Hemsworth and Josh Peck was also released in 2012.
Independence Day (1996)
In this heroic adventure film, strange phenomena begin to surface around the world and terror spreads through the major cities. As these terrifying events unfold, it becomes increasingly clear that a force of incredible magnitude has arrived. Its mission: total annihilation of planet earth over the Fourth of July weekend. In an attempt to stop the destruction an unlikely group of people is assembled to try to save the world. This blockbuster pretty much set the precedent for July 4th weekend releases ever since its debut.
Miracle is based on one of the most iconic moments in American sports history. In the middle of the Cold War and during a particularly rough economic period in America, a ragtag group of ice hockey players came together to play as a team and took down the all-powerful Soviet Union team during the 1980 Winter Olympics and took home the gold. College coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) is at the helm and brings a unique and brash style to the ice. Brooks is able to unite his squad against a common foe, the heavily-favored Soviet team.