It seems appropriate in this weird time as a country that we may need some uplifting films this Fourth of July holiday to help us forget about politics and focus on what makes America strong, courageous, and kickass.
Here are 12 films guaranteed to make you feel tingly and inspired to celebrate America in all its glory (in no particular order):
“Captain America: The First Avenger”
Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a tiny, skinny kid looking to make something of himself for the greater good. He has the American spirit but not the physical capabilities until he is transformed and has 6-pack abs. What I like most about this character is his moral compass and unwavering strength to do the right thing and sacrifice himself if need be. You won’t find a better American hero to rally behind than that.
Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) were the epitome of the American dream. When Creed goes up against the soviet athlete, Drago (Dolph Lundgren) and is killed in the exhibition match, it’s up to Rocky to avenge him. He heads to Russia to battle it out. Also, please enjoy James Brown singing Livin’ in America as Creed’s entrance song that couldn’t be more American in spectacle!
We love stories of honor and courage against odds so great that it’s almost impossible to overcome. “Glory” follows Col. Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) leads the U.S. Civil War’s first all-black volunteer company including Pvt. Trip (Denzel Washington), Sgt. Maj. John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman). They fight prejudices within their own Union Army and their enemy Confederate soldiers but they bond together and take on a fight that is merely impossible and suicidal. Washington’s performance won him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
“We Were Soldiers”
I could have chosen a number of different war genre films, but “We Were Soldiers” is one of those films that highlights the sacrifices from different perspectives, the soldiers fighting on each side and the sacrifices from families made at home. This film also reinforces the idea that no matter what race, ethnicity or country you are from that we are all in this together because we are Americans fighting for what we think is right. Take a look at one of the best pre-war speeches by Lt. Colonel Hal Moore (Mel Gibson) to get you on the brink of teary motivation.
If you only have time to see one movie during the holiday weekend you have to see this 4th of July classic. At the helm of the film is Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) who ends up on a mission to save the planet from aliens with David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum). Apart from that there’s also the epic motivational presidential speech from President Whitmore (Bill Pullman). Aside from classic lines from Smith like “Welcome to Earth” this film is everything you need to get in the American spirit.
I’ve probably seen this film a million times as it’s a cable rerun staple but it’s a good one. Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) is forced back into action when his sons Gabriel (Heath Ledger) and Thomas (Gregory Smith) are captured by the Redcoats played by the exquisitely villainous Col. William Tavington (Jason Isaacs). In modern times it’s hard to forget that America had to fight for her freedom, so it’s nice to be reminded and see young Heath Ledger.
“A League of Their Own”
There was no better example of when a country came together like America did during World War II. Women took jobs in factories to help the war effort and even tried to take over America’s favorite pastime. This film features America’s national treasure, Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan, a drunk manager that doesn’t take the women’s league seriously. Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) and Kit Keller (Lori Petty) are sisters who are dealing with duty and rivalry between them.
“Air Force One”
I still remember my parents buying this movie on pay-per-view and the whole family sitting around the television watching Harrison Ford as President James Marshall. Researching this list, there’s a lot of films depicting Russian and American ties, it’s no wonder why Russians may not be keen on us. Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman) hijacks Air Force One and the President is forced to escape but does not. He fights his way back to save his family. Commander-in-chief showing everyone how it’s done!
If you can’t stand Tom Cruise, this film may not be for you, but you’ll have to admit that “you may feel the need, the need for American spirit” when you hear those tunes cranking up in the opening scene of fighter pilots. We love our American soldiers and the made up competition of being the “Top Gun” just adds to it. Of course, you can’t go wrong with the volleyball beach scene and wondering why Cruise is wearing jeans in sweltering heat?
You’re killin’ me smalls if you don’t think this is an American classic. As a young kid growing up it’s a rite of passage. Even if you hate baseball you’ve seen this film. Also it’s just highly relatable because you can’t help but root for the group of misfits trying to fit in and just play baseball. Plus, one of the greatest displays of American fireworks and sheer awe in the spectacle is a must see.
The moon and space flight is one of those things that defined who America was back in the 60s. Whether you believe that we really landed on the moon or not, space took America by storm and Apollo 13 captivated the nation when those words that will forever be embedded in our country, “Houston, we have a problem” were spoken. Imagine the captivation of the whole nation staring at a television set waiting to see if there boys were coming home.
Jennnayyyy!!! Taking the journey of some of America’s historical moments with Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) right smack in the middle of those is a unique experience. We see them through the eyes of Forrest and his journey of figuring out what he’s meant to do. Running across America, fighting in Vietnam and finding his true love, Jenny there’s not a better American heartfelt story.
Tag us and let us know what films are your favorites for the 4th of July!
Catherine grew up watching action flicks at a very young age which led to her love of film. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelors in Radio-TV-Film in 2012. Always the adventurer, Catherine traveled and lived in Sydney, Australia for a year where she took a selfie with Brad Pitt. She runs Shuffle with passion, lots of caffeine and tacos. When she’s not editing or writing you can find her crafting and planning her next adventure.