'Merica! To celebrate the Fourth of July, here are some quantifiable American movies (and no, I didn't include the obvious "Independence Day" — gimme a break):
"Air Force One" (1997) — Who wouldn't want Han Solo for president? Harrison Ford plays POTIS as an action hero after Russian terrorists take over his ride home from Moscow. Uh-huh. Take that! Best line: "Peace isn't merely the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice."
"Apollo 13" (1995) — Ron Howard's gripping account of the doomed space mission has a brilliant cast that includes Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Ed "Not on my watch" Harris, with a finale that will bring you to tears. Best line: "So long, Earth. Catch you on the flip side."
"The American President" (1995) — Michael Douglas is the president everyone loves — and needs — in this tale of the widowed man who finds love again with lobbyist Annette Bening. Best line: "Two hundred pairs of eyes are focused on you with two questions on their minds — who's this girl, and why is the President dancing with her?”
"Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011) — Well, duh, you can't have a list of patriotic movies and not include Cap! Chris Evans proves he was born to play Steve Rogers, a once scrawny civilian who gets transformed into the first Avenger. Best line: "You ready to follow Captain America into the jaws of death?"
"Glory" (1989) — Edward Zwick’s powerful, noble Civil War drama about the first all-black Army regiment sent to the front lines stars Matthew Broderick and a riveting, Oscar-winning Denzel Washington. Best line: "We runaway slaves but we come back fightin' men. Go tell your folks how kingdom come in the year of jubilee!"
"Hidden Figures" (2016) — This jubilant tale takes place during the 1960s space race with the Soviets, as three female African-American mathematicians (Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae) overcome racism and sexism at NASA while helping to launch American astronauts into history. Best line: "Here at NASA we all pee the same color."
"Lincoln" (2012) — Steven Spielberg's righteous biopic stars an awe-inducing Daniel Day-Lewis as Honest Abe in this account of his dogged fight to abolish slavery. Best line: "Each of us has made it possible for the other to do terrible things."
"Miracle" (2004) — Kurt Russell stars as coach Herb Brooks in this real-life story of the scrappy U.S. hockey team that overcame great odds to defeat the Soviet team at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. Best line: "Great moments ... are born from great opportunity. And that's what you have here, tonight, boys. That's what you've earned here tonight."
"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939) — Jimmy Stewart is brilliant as a naive man appointed to fill a vacancy in the Senate. Best line: "Great principles don't get lost once they come to light. They're right here, you just have to see them again!"
"Patton" (1970) — George C. Scott won an Oscar for his on-the-nose embodiment of the controversial war general that also won best picture. Best line: "I've always felt that I was destined for some great achievement, what I don't know."
"The Right Stuff" (1983) — The story of the original Mercury 7 astronauts and their macho, seat-of-the-pants approach to the space program. Best line: “The first American into space is not going to be a chimpanzee. I want test pilots!”
"Saving Private Ryan" (1998) — Valor. That's at the heart of Steven Spielberg’s heartbreaking tribute to the D-Day soldiers who fought and died in World War II. Best line: "This Ryan better be worth it. He'd better go home and cure some disease or invent a longer-lasting light bulb or something."
"Top Gun" (1986) — Cocky hotshot fighter pilot Maverick (Tom Cruise) paves his way at an elite Navy fighter weapons school. Best line: “I feel the need … the need for speed.”
"Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1942) — Again, duh. You can't have a list of patriotic movies and not include this classic that stars James Cagney in this tale of the life of renowned musical composer, playwright, actor, dancer and singer George M. Cohan (what an over-achiever!). Best line: "Whenever we get too high-hat and too sophisticated for flag-waving, some thug nation decides we're a push-over all ready to be blackjacked."