5 The Patriot
If you’re making a list of the top five patriotic movies, one of them has to be “The Patriot.” It’s right there in the title—you can’t have patriotism without patriots. Director Roland Emmerich paints the picture of a peace-loving farmer turned revolutionary leader, fighting for American independence after his son is murdered. Indeed, Benjamin Martin and his son Gabriel are quintessential American patriots—just ignore the fact both characters were played by Aussies.
4 A League of Their Own
There’s no sport more all-American than baseball, and there’s no more patriotic baseball movie than “A League of Their Own.” This fictionalized big-screen retelling of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League combines real history with a heart-warming story about the strong, independent women who kept America running while the boys were fighting overseas in World War II. Historical context to the side, equal opportunity for all is one of the founding ideals of this country. Also notable for teaching the important lesson that “There’s no crying in baseball.”
3 Top Gun
There’s a reason Sarah Palin said she was a “maverick,” and it probably wasn’t an attempt to provoke thoughts of a certain arrogant but talented hotshot fighter pilot. But a large portion of the American public should be forgiven if the name “Maverick” causes them to conjure mental images of young Tom Cruise in a flight suit, wind at his face rippling the stars and stripes hung conveniently behind his head. If it does anything at all, “Top Gun” serves as a clinic to would-be makers of patriotic films on the powerful symbolic and emotional impact of a flag rippling in the wind in slow motion.
2 Red Dawn
At the height of the Cold War, there were plenty of hypotheses about what would happen if the Soviet Union invaded the United States. Following true-blue American underdog tradition, “Red Dawn” envisions an internationally isolated USA defended against evil Soviet occupiers, not by top-shelf weaponry or tactical military forces, but by a rag-tag group of small town American teenagers. The film closes on a memorial plaque that reads: “In the early days of World War III, guerrillas—mostly children—placed the names of their lost upon this rock. They fought here alone and gave up their lives, so that this nation should not perish from the earth.” It’s OK to admit you teared up a little.
1 Independence Day
“This is our Independence Day.” And so Bill Pullman ended one of the most goose bump-inducing Presidential rallying speeches in the history of film. It’s hard to imagine anything more positively patriotic than a film that places the United States in the heroic position of rising against an alien force bent on the destruction of the entire human race. “Independence Day’s” cigar-toting heroes bring the world together to rally behind the proud, fearless Americans who refuse to back down and surmount seemingly insurmountable odds to ensure the world is safe for humanity, and presumably, democracy—all on the Fourth of July.