Everyone’s definition of “patriotic” differs, but when it comes to American cinema, there are plenty of movie choices that embody the spirit of Independence. From war films to stories of freedom, cinema has long celebrated the Fourth of July as a holiday to commemorate blockbuster movies. This week we break away from our attempt at humorous anecdotes and offer 10 films leading up to July 4. Here are some of our staff’s picks for: 

Top 10 Patriotic Movies for July 4th

10. “Lincoln” (2012) — Why? Because Spielberg, Daniel Day-Lewis and other legendary cast members recreate one of the most defining moments in American history. The story of Lincoln’s struggles, from the battlefield to his own cabinet; eradicating slavery and unifying a divided nation — is perhaps the most defining story of our nation’s past.

9. “Born on the Fourth of July” (1989) — Why? Because Oliver Stone’s anti-war depiction offers a raw look inside the atrocities of the Vietnam War and the horrors so many soldiers brought home.

8.”Glory” (1989) — Why? Because this is one of the most powerful war movies ever made. And it is the film that announced the brilliance of Denzel Washington.

7. “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: (1939) — Why? This is our Key West publisher’s favorite. And the political lessons within the movie are just as relevant in 2021 as they were nearly a century ago.

6. “Forrest Gump” (1994) — Why? The soundtrack alone places this film on the list. And the fact that it’s regarded as one of the greatest movies in history doesn’t hurt.

5. “Independence Day” (1996) — Why? The title says it all. Even before CGI and green screens were enhanced, this sci-fi classic offered everything that should be on a summer blockbuster’s resume. 

4. “Band of Brothers” (miniseries) HBO (2001) — Why? Regarded as one of the most accurate depictions of World War II in screen history. In our opinion, it should be required viewing for any American 18 or older.

3. “Top Gun” (1986) — Why? Why not? Tom Cruise stars in an epic high-adrenaline blockbuster that defined blockbusters. Prepare for the sequel.

2. “Moonrise Kingdom” (2012) — Why? Because this Wes Anderson classic is a coming-of-age tale set in the mid ‘60s, tackling the difficult themes of sexuality, mental health and social change in an evolving nation.

1. “Easy Rider” (1969) — Why? Because the 1960s embodied an era of American social change that is now echoing through modern-day politics and culture. “Easy Rider” is an American classic. 

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