Star-Spangled Cinema: 25 Patriotic Movies That Ignite American Pride


In these trying, divided times, an unabashedly patriotic movie can be just what the Americans ordered. These 25 movies put their own twist on patriotism, making for quality movies that will make you want to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Before proceedings, please note that any humor comes with the caveat of respect and appreciation for American veterans and active military members. Let’s get on with this list then!

1 – The Patriot (2000)

Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

This list would not be publishable without The Patriot, a Mel Gibson classic that has a peaceful farmer take up arms against British enemies after they unjustly murder his son.

2 – Argo (2012)

Argo Ben Affleck
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

While it’s not the traditional war film, Argo will have you rooting for the Americans throughout.

3 – They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)

They Shall Not Grow Old
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Peter Jackson’s 2018 documentary feels like a movie and an eye-opening one at that. They Shall Not Grow Old portrays the tragedy of young men thrust into war before they’ve had the chance to live their lives.

4 – Patton (1970)

Patton George C. Scott, Jack Gwillim
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

George Patton remains the most towering general in American history, but his eccentricities, tendency to speak his mind, and clashes with higher-ups make him a polarizing figure.

5 – Lincoln (2012)

Lincoln Sally Field
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

While Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln documents one of the most fractured times in our country’s history, it’s a reminder that we were able to reunite after enduring the deepest of divisions. That’s a message we need right now.

6 – Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Saving Private Ryan Tom Hanks Matt Damon Tom Sizemore
Image Credit: DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures.

Steven Spielberg’s hyper-realistic World War II drama-thriller is not for the faint of heart. Those who can stomach it, though, are in for a cinematic marvel and patriotic whirlwind.

7 – Air Force One (1997)

Air Force One Harrison Ford
Image Credit: Buena Vista International.

“I’ve had it with these MF’in Communists on this MF’in plane!” – Harrison Ford in Air Force One, we wish. There are few things our political parties can agree on, but the awesomeness of Air Force One is one of them.

8 – Gettysburg (1993)

Gettysburg Tom Berenger, Stephen Lang
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

Critics loved this take on the Civil War starring Martin Sheen and Tom Berenger. While the North-South conflict isn’t the most unifying topic of them all, Gettysburg will be a necessary reminder of what our ancestors sacrificed to keep the nation together.

9 – Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

Letters from Iwo Jima Tsuyoshi Ihara.
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

The counterstory to Flags of Our Fathers, Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima, portrayed the pivotal WWII battle from the Japanese perspective.

10 – Top Gun (1986)

Top Gun Tom Cruise
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

You can swap in Top Gun: Maverick for a more recent iteration of fighter jets flying at speeds that will make your American flag flutter on a windless day.

11 – Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Hacksaw Ridge Hugo Weaving
Image Credit: Lionsgate.

The degree of patriotism Army Medic Desmond Doss displayed during the Battle of Okinawa is truly unfathomable. It would be impossible to believe if Mel Gibson hadn’t brought the story to our attention with Hacksaw Ridge.

12 – The Right Stuff (1983)

The Right Stuff Ed Harris, Lance Henriksen, Dennis Quaid, Scott Glenn, Charles Frank, Scott Paulin, Fred Ward
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

The Right Stuff takes patriotism into liftoff, telling the story of the Mercury Seven astronauts led by Chuck Yeager. Learn about the origins of American aeronautics with this historical film.

13 – The Longest Day (1962)

The Longest Day Wolfgang Preiss
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

The Longest Day is the film you get when you combine John Wayne, 1962 cinematic technology, and D-Day. It’s not the most technically advanced war film, but it is a great one.

14 – Glory (1989)

Glory Matthew Broderick
Image Credit: Tri-Star Pictures.

The true story of the United States’ first all-Black Army regiment is impeccably cast, with Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman taking the lead.

15 – Lone Survivor (2013)

Lone Survivor Eric Bana
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Lone Survivor brings Marcus Luttrell’s account of seeing his brothers-in-arms killed pursuing a Taliban leader in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley to the big screen. A combination of camaraderie, action, and ultimately heartbreak, Lone Survivor is a sobering nod to veterans of conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

16 – G.I. Jane (1997)

G.I. Jane Demi Moore
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Critics didn’t love G.I. Jane, despite Ridley Scott manning the camera, but we’re lacking female-led patriotic films on this list. This isn’t a quota for quota’s sake, but an option for female viewers who want to see a lady kicking kiesters.

17 – Flags of Our Fathers (2006)

Flags of Our Fathers Ryan Phillippe, Adam Beach, Jesse Bradford
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

An epic WWII film that doesn’t seem to get as much praise as Saving Private Ryan, Flags of Our Fathers is Clint Eastwood’s take on The Battle of Iwo Jima. It’s stirring and, at times, gruesome, but Flags of Our Fathers is very much worth your time.

18 – Apollo 13 (1995)

Apollo 13 Kevin Bacon, Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Not all space missions succeed. Apollo 13 makes clear what’s at stake every time a crew launches off for the skies.

19 – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Frank Capra’s classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington dropped during one of the most patriotic eras in cinema history. Even so, it tells the story of corruption in Washington and one man determined to rise above it.

20 – Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

Yankee Doodle Dandy Irene Manning
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

1942 was an immensely appropriate year to release Yankee Doodle Dandy, a lighthearted piece of World World II propaganda (in the best sense) starring James Cagney.

21 – Rocky IV (1985)

Rocky IV Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire
Image Credit: MGM/UA Entertainment Co. and United International Pictures.

Do you know the real date that the Cold War ended? It wasn’t the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It was the moment that Rocky knocked Ivan Drago to the canvas in Rocky IV. Write that in the history books.

22 – A League of Their Own (1992)

A League of Their Own Geena Davis, Megan Cavanagh
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

What happens to baseball when the men of fighting age go to war? The ladies start A League of Their Own, naturally.

23 – Selma (2014)

Selma Tessa Thompson
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Selma is a sober depiction of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s march to attain voting rights in 1965. The film is a serious, critically praised period piece that every movie fan should watch.

24 – Independence Day

Independence Day
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

In the great American wars of all time, you have Colonial Rebels v. King George, America v. Hitler, America v. Korea, and more. In Hollywood’s pantheon of American war movies, you also have America v. The Aliens, and it’s chronicled through Independence Day.

25 – Miracle (2004)

Miracle Kurt Russel
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Few arenas crystallize our patriotism like sports, whether it’s a pre-Super Bowl flyover or an underdog Olympic hockey team knocking off the Red Menace in 1980.

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