From pledging allegiance to the flag at the beginning of school to singing the national anthem at the start of every ball game, Americans are some of the most patriotic people in the world.
So, with July 4 arguably being the most patriotic day on the American calendar, we thought we’d find out which of the top American-based movies are most popular in each state.
Fun fact: Almost a third of the films we surveyed are so patriotic they’ve got the American flag in the movie poster. And 35 percent of states prefer to celebrate their patriotism with a war movie.
Red, white, and blue
Some states are more avid patriotic movie fans than others, appearing as the top state with the highest number of searches for more than one movie. The highest was Idaho, which came out on top for nine of the movies in total. DC, Alaska, and Utah also appeared on top numerous times.
In Idaho, the top picks were an eclectic mix of movies from old-school romance, e.g. Tammy and the Bachelor, to newer war films, e.g. American Sniper. Idahoans were also big fans of Red Dawn, which took the top spot for both the original in 1984 and the remake in 2012.
The District of Columbia’s top movies had a recurring theme of politics, with Lincoln, Vice, and The American President all being top there. But the overall winner was 2020’s Hamilton.
States that feel more patriotic closer to home
For some states, movies that were shot or set in their own backyard are the pick of patriotism, including:
- Georgia and Alabama for Forrest Gump: The bench Forrest sits on to narrate the entire movie from is in Georgia. But as a child, Forrest lived in Greenbow, Alabama.
- Pennsylvania for Gettysburg: The 1993 movie about the battle of Gettysburg, a decisive battle in the American Civil War, is a hit in the Quaker State where it all took place back in 1863.
- Massachusetts for Patriots Day: Based on the real-life events of the 2013 Boston marathon bombings, this movie stars Mark Wahlberg as a police officer on the hunt for the terrorists behind the bombings.
- Hawaii for Pearl Harbor: The harrowing events that took place on a Sunday morning in 1941 at the naval base in Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, are reenacted in this 2001 film directed by Michael Bay.
- Texas for The Alamo: This 1960 John Wayne classic depicts the battle of the Alamo where a small group of men tries to defend the Alamo against a much larger, stronger army of Mexicans. A must-watch for those living in the Lone Star state.
Which states like the classics and which prefer the latest hits?
Illinois, Kentucky, New York, and Nebraska all used 1930’s nostalgia to feel more patriotic, choosing Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), Gone with the Wind (1939), Allegheny Uprising (1939), and Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), respectively.
A few other states also kept things classic but headed into the next decade, including Michigan with Foreign Correspondent (1940) and Montana with Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942).
Some states, however, liked to keep things more recent with Virginia, Maryland, and DC all opting for 2020 movies like Hamilton and The 24th. In addition, Ohio favored Sgt. Will Gardner (2019) and Utah, Wonder Woman (2017).
Which states have the best and worst tastes?
Of all the films in the study, Forrest Gump had the highest rating (8.8), meaning Alabama and Georgia technically have the best choice in patriotic movies according to IMDb. They are closely followed by Maine and North Dakota who both like the Spielberg classic, Saving Private Ryan, which enjoys an IMDb rating of 8.6.
But with a mere IMDb rating of 4.5, California’s choice of XXX: State of the Union means it has the worst taste, especially considering the fact that this was the only film that California ranked in the top five for.
Using Ranker’s list of the best patriotic movies of all time, we searched each title individually on Google Trends to find which state scored the highest. The top result is the designated title for that state. If any state came up twice, we used the title that was more popular over the last 12 months. Any title that didn’t come up as a topic on Google Trends (i.e. only a search term) was omitted to ensure a fair comparison.
Researcher: George Moody