America F#$K Yeah
Here’s an American-made, American-approved list of movies that are bound to stir your nostalgia for all things red-white-and-blue:
1. Independence Day
The way I see it, I finally have a platform to discuss my love of Bill Pullman’s speech from Independence Day. Does anyone else start to tear up? I can’t even talk to you about how much this makes me shed red, white and blue tears. Is it too late to ask Bill Pullman to run for President? We’ll even take Will Smith!
2. Captain America
Full Disclosure: I didn’t care for the first Captain America movie. It is necessary, however, to get to the two significantly superior sequels, The Winter Soldier and Civil War. Chris Evans is eye candy and so are Dominic Cooper and Sebastian Stan, so watch it for them and feel the Patriotism radiate off of Chris Evans’ pecs.
3. Forrest Gump
From the very moment our rag tag army defeated the Great British Empire, we’ve loved an underdog story. Forrest Gump special is the underdog film of all underdog films.. Forrest teaches us that courage and character can sometimes outweigh ability. We follow Forrest through childhood to adulthood, finding himself in extraordinary historical situations that would define the latter half of the 20th century.
4. Team America
Is this movie tasteless and immature? Yes. Am I slightly embarrassed as an American citizen that other countries watched this movie? Sure. Do I still, after 13 years, have “America! F#&* YEAH!” stuck in my head? Of course I do.
5. The Sandlot
It doesn’t get much more American than The Sandlot, both in choice of sport and in coming of age stories. Not only is this the movie that defines talking smack on the field, but it has become the authority on how to make S’mores, set the bar for getting your first kiss, and even taught us at the end of the day, looks can be deceiving. Just don’t go stealing your step-dad’s baseball signed by Babe Ruth if you’re afraid of dogs.
6. A League of Their Own
During World War II, while men were fighting overseas, baseball opened its doors to (gasp!) women. The ladies of the All-American Girl’s Professional Baseball League (the Rockland Peaches in particular) know a thing or two about attracting fans, playing ball, and keeping an alcoholic Tom Hanks on his toes. This movie makes us proud to be American and a woman, and actually makes us feel all of the feelings we could ever actually have. Thanks to repeat offenders on this list Tom Hanks and Bill Pullman for making us cry every time.
Practically inspiration porn, 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 (it was just a crisis of confidence, guys), a ragtag group of ice hockey players (harnessed the power of Capitalism) 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. Do you believe in miracles?!
You should probably watch this version instead, though:
8. Raiders of the Lost Ark
Raiders of the Lost Ark is a modern classic, and even though most of the plot takes place abroad—let's be real—it's American AF. Set in the 1930s, a dreamy American professor (Harrison Ford, ever heard of him??) goes overseas to work his side hustle as a bad-ass, booby-trap-dodging, Nazi-killing archaeologist. Plus, the score is by John Williams so: mic drop. The movie is just too damn delightful—it belongs in a museum!
9. Top Gun
I know this movie is very before your time, but there’s a scene where all the young Air Force guys play sweaty shirtless volleyball and it is the greatest 80’s movie moment ever put to film.
10. Saving Private Ryan
The first time I ever saw my Mom and Dad openly cry was when we watched this movie as a family. A heartbreaking but utterly beautiful action movie about a group of U.S. Soldiers who land on the beach in Normandy during WWII to locate a soldier whose brothers were killed in action and are tasked with bringing him home. Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Matt Damon have never been better than they are here.
11. Coming To America
Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall star in as African princes who move to Queens to find themselves wives that won’t just love them for their money. This is another older movie, but even after 28 years it stands up to even the highest scrutiny as one of the best comedies i’ve ever seen.
12. Air Force One
Harrison Ford utters the iconic phrase “GET OFF MY PLANE!” at the climax of this perfect 1997 action movie. If you’re not feeling patriotic after this, I really can’t help you.
13. Hidden Figures
At first, this movie is maddening. You think back to the years in history class and wonder how in the hell you never learned that our space program was built on the backs of incredibly smart African-American women. History books may omit Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, etc, but this Oscar-Nominated movie finally brings them into the spotlight.
14. Remember the Titans
Not only do we get pre-The Notebook Ryan Gosling, but Remember the Titans mixes humor and honesty to show the power of a team working together to win in a town where football was religion. It's the inspirational story of a team that unites a town divided by racial and economic lines during the Civil Rights movement, a powerful story that reminds us about the importance of leadership, to come together despite our differences, and most importantly, to remind us that Denzel Washington is an American hero.
Ben Affleck stars and directs this true story about a covert mission to save US hostages from Iran in 1980, which won Best Picture at the Oscar’s in 2012. I could argue about whether it deserved that award, but instead I will admit that it’s a great movie that you should definitely see.
16. The Patriot
Imagine Kill Bill but in 1776 and directed by an action movie director with little imagination, and you have something close to The Patriot. Mel Gibson plays a peaceful farmer who turns out to be a badass action hero who goes on a revenge journey to kill the British officer that murdered one of his children and ends the Revolutionary War in the process. It’s very stupid, but it’s a great mindless action movie with a young Heath Ledger playing Mel Gibson’s son.
17. Bridge of Spies
Tom Hanks is father to us all, and this is some of his best most recent work. He stars as a lawyer hired to defend an alleged Soviet spy in court, and then help the CIA exchange him for one of our own, a pilot who was downed in enemy territory.
18. Wet Hot American Summer
Oh how we love this cult comedy classic. What would America be without good times and summer camp? Set on the last day of camp in 1981, Wet Hot follows a group of counselors who are trying to complete their unfinished business before the day’s end. Follow it up with the prequel, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, and the sequel, Wet Hot American Summer: 10 years Later. The movie itself is the epitome of ridiculous as demonstrated by the following speech delivered by the camp cook:
19. Gone with the Wind
To think I once thought this movie as a romance! While there was definitely heat between Rhett Butler and Scarlet O’Hara, Gone with the Wind is about so much more than romance. Set at the brink of the Civil War, there are social criticisms about war, racism, politics--even psychology-- but it’s this classic scene, the “as God is my witness" scene, that truly embodies the American spirit. Arguably at her lowest point, Scarlet doesn't run away or give into despair, something she very easily could've done. She just picks herself back up and promises that she's going to do whatever it takes to ensure that she and her family survive, even if it means doing things we'd morally object to.
20. First Daughter
We love a good fish out of water story, and Katie Holmes as First Daughter of the United States plays the role to perfection. SHE JUST WANTS TO BE NORMAL! What makes this film iconic, besides it starring Holmes, is the steamy movie theater scene in which we learn to pour our Milk Duds directly over our popcorn.
The titular Summer film that'll make you both scared of the water but also wishing you were at the beach. It's not a 4th of July without putting on the film and scaring those you love most.
22. Apollo 13
This biopic tells the story of NASA mission Apollo 13 – America's third attempt to land a man on the moon. Nothing's more American than the space race of the 1960s. When something goes wrong, the astronauts have to band together in order to get home with their never-leave-a-man-behind mentality.
23. Die Hard
Die Hard is a holiday movie... granted that holiday is typically Christmas but it works just as well for the 4th of July. Why? Bruce Willis stars as John McClane the badass that does whatever he can to stop Hans Gruber and save the girl. Basically it's the testament to the American spirit.
A nod to some good ol' Army fun, Stripes stars comedic geniuses Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and John Candy. I mean... come on. Take a look at the graduation scene alone and you'll be overwhelmed with patriotism.
25. National Treasure
Nic Cage doing what Nic Cage does best... be Nic Cage. I mean, the whole movie centers around a treasure the founding fathers left clues to on the back of the Declaration of Independence... that's LITERALLY the most American thing I can think of.
Bonus: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
Who wouldn’t want to watch one of our most prolific and brilliant Presidents save our country from… vampires. While still a boy, Abe loses his mother to a vampire bite and the rest is, how they say, history (kinda).
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