Long weekends were made for movie marathons. Labor Day is coming up and it’s the last long holiday weekend we’ll see for a while (Three cheers for kids going back to school!). And for LDW, you gotta go patriotic, am I right? But I can’t watch Independence Day again. Not twice in one summer. That one is apparently reserved for every Fourth of July until the day aliens actually arrive.
To help you plan your Labor Day movie lineup, here are 10 options beyond the Will Smith/Bill Pullman classic to help you celebrate America (and cope with any unexpected rain that dampens your cookout plans):
- Miracle (2004)
When sports and international conflict combine, you have a perfect American film. Kurt Russell stars as Herb Brooks, the actual player-turned-coach who helped unite the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team to defeat the Soviets during the Cold War at the XIII Olympic Winter Games held in Lake Placid, New York.
- Top Gun (1986)
A Tom Cruise classic. The action star plays naval aviator Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, going up against Lieutenant Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer) to be the best of the best at the TOPGUN Naval Fighter Weapons School. If it’s been a while, now is the perfect time to rewatch it ahead of the sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, coming out in November.
- Air Force One (1997)
Who hasn’t wanted to shout “Get off my plane!” at least once on a flight? Harrison Ford is the President of the United States in this action classic that sees POTUS’ plane overtaken by Russian terrorists. Not sure what else you really need to say here but there are moles, missiles, and man-to-man combat.
- Hidden Figures (2016)
How does the saying go? Behind every brilliant man is a woman doing all the work? I kid (sort of). Taraji P. Henson stars as Katherine Johnson, one of a group of female African American mathematicians working at NASA in the 1960s. The women play a pivotal role in several successful missions, all the while fighting against rampant racism and sexism in this incredible true story.
- The Patriot (2000)
There had to be a war movie in the mix, and you can’t get much more patriotic than this one about the Revolutionary War starring Mel Gibson. Gibson plays an American colonist originally opposed to challenging Great Britain, but is convinced to join the fight when his family is threatened. If anyone is going to inspire a call to arms, it would be the late Heath Ledger, who plays Gibson’s oldest son.
- Lincoln (2012)
When Steven Spielberg taps Daniel Day-Lewis to play United States President Abraham Lincoln, you have to watch it, no matter how long it is. Set at the end of the Civil War, it follows President Lincoln’s quest to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment and abolish slavery once and for all. It’s a movie full of epic performances, including Sally Field as First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.
- Patton (1970)
OK, that’s the Civil War covered. Now let’s jump to World War II with this epic starring George C. Scott in his award-winning portrayal of U.S. General George S. Patton. It also has one of the most iconic opening monologues in cinematic history, capturing the general’s often controversial, profanity-laden style of public speaking to motivate the troops.
- Harriet (2019)
Cynthia Erivo portrays abolitionist Harriet Tubman in this long-awaited biopic about a true American hero. As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Tubman helped to free hundreds of slaves, risking her own life countless times. Erivo received wide critical acclaim for her performance, which is worth watching with the whole family.
- Apollo 13 (1995)
This space drama follows the chaotic–and nearly disastrous–mission of Apollo 13. Full of tension until the very end, everything that could possibly go wrong does for Commander Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) and his crew during their attempt to reach the moon. It also made the phrase “Houston, we have a problem” synonymous with “uh-oh” and therefore suitable for everything from a burnt dinner to a poopy diaper.
- Saving Private Ryan (1998)
We had to include one more starring Hanks (aka America’s Dad) and as we mentioned earlier, no one does a war flick like Spielberg. Set during WWII, the film follows the search for James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), the only surviving member of four brothers, led by Tom Hanks as Captain John H. Miller. Fair warning if you haven’t seen it, the opening scene is not for the faint of heart.
Spot any favorites on our list? Let us know which movie always leaves you chanting “USA! USA!” in the comments.