Wick's Rushmore Movies (14)

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Created Mar 16, 2014 02:05AM PST • Updated Dec 08, 2019 09:13AM PST

American history comes alive in these powerful and important movies. They are of post-modern vintage, characterized by extreme verisimilitude and state-of-the-art production values. Post-modernism notwithstanding, they exhibit little to no irony, an essential quality given the historic gravity of their stories.

Mea culpa: The title of this list suggests it should be limited to four movies. In practice each entrant on the list deserves to be lionized, so here they are.


  • Really Great
  • 68 Points
Title Released Trust Weighted Summary Viewable
1st American Sniper
2014 Perfect 66 Points

Saving Private Ryan has a new neighbor atop the pantheon of Great American War movies. Chris Kyle, Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood's American Sniper illuminates the reality of America's 21st century war as never before, just as Steven Spielberg's classic did about the Greatest Generation's war.

Like "Spielberg's WWII movie":http://www.viewguide.com/movies/118888-saving-private-ryan, Eastwood's instant classic makes vivid what we'd previously seen only in filtered images. However, American Sniper hits closer to home because it is set recently, about an ongoing war, and is a biopic…

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Added Jan 23, 2015 05:35PM PST • Updated Jan 23, 2015 05:35PM PST
2nd 12 Years a Slave
2013 Perfect 83 Points

Solomon Northup has just become an iconic American hero, some fifteen and a half decades after he lived. Americans from this day forth will know his name like they know Patrick Henry's or "Harriet Tubman's":http://www.greatblackheroes.com/civil-rights/harriet-tubman/.

That's not all. The movie that brought his memoir to us just joined the short list of supremely important American history films, alongside "Saving Private Ryan":http://www.viewguide.com/movies/118888-saving-private-ryan and "Lincoln":http://www.viewguide.com/movie_reviews/3658-lincoln up on the "cinematic Mount Rushmore"…

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Added Mar 16, 2014 02:05AM PST • Updated Jan 23, 2015 05:35PM PST
3rd Lone Survivor
2013 Perfect 83 Points

The greatest bromance movie of all time – charming, funny, deeply affecting – Lone Survivor is more importantly the "Saving Private Ryan":https://www.viewguide.com/movies/118888-saving-private-ryan of our still young 21st Century. It viscerally depicts American heroes fighting my war against my enemy, the Good War, the necessary war per both Presidents Bush and Obama. It is quite simply a must-see movie.

Indeed, every American of voting age should see it. Every citizen of the world who's of voting age should see it. The brutal parts are more tolerable than you may think, in no smal…

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Added Mar 16, 2014 02:05AM PST • Updated Jan 23, 2015 05:35PM PST
4th Apollo 13
1995 Perfect 77 Points

Gripping from start to finish, though the end is never in doubt.

Stands as a testament to American heroism, ingenuity and bravura movie-making.

Tom Hanks – in one of his iconic performances – heads a stellar cast atop their games.

The screenplay introduced not one, but two catchphrases into the popular lexicon.

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Added Mar 16, 2014 02:06AM PST • Updated Jan 23, 2015 05:35PM PST
5th Lincoln
2012 Really Great 86 Points

A fine, fine movie, Lincoln delivers an outstanding history lesson centered on an iconic performance for the ages. With it, Stephen Spielberg continues his own ascent into the American pantheon, while Daniel Day-Lewis creates his single most memorable role.

The movie focuses on a great legislative battle Lincoln fought in the last months of his life, an apt lens through which to view the man in full. Canny and idealistic, melancholy yet jovial, riven by familial tension, Abraham Lincoln comes alive in the movie as fully human yet worthy of his demigod status.

Lincoln delivers a …

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Added Mar 16, 2014 02:05AM PST • Updated Jan 23, 2015 05:35PM PST
6th Flags Of Our Fat...
2006 Really Great 83 Points

A new laureate to the pantheon of great war movies.

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Added Mar 16, 2014 02:05AM PST • Updated Jan 23, 2015 05:35PM PST
7th United 93
2006 Perfect 29 Points

United 93 takes place the day a tragedy occurred, September 11, 2001. It seems like a normal day to everyone. No one has any idea how big of an impact this day will have. At first everything goes as scheduled through the airlines. However, those who monitor the airplanes do become suspicious. They realize that there could be a possible hijacking situation on one of the planes. People are cautioned by this, but it is surprising to them since this hasn’t happened for 40 years. Soon they find out that several of the planes are in fact being hijacked. The workers try to do what they can to fi…

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Added Mar 16, 2014 02:06AM PST • Updated Jan 23, 2015 05:35PM PST
8th Zero Dark Thirty
2012 Really Great 83 Points

Zero Dark Thirty tells the truthy tale of the deadly hunt for Osama bin Laden, making it one of the most potent political movies of all time. The certain reverberations are hard to predict. Wikileaks? Wikiflick.

It starts with a dark screen, then a title card. September 11, 2001. Screen still dark, radio chatter fills the air, capturing the desperate last words between al-Qaeda's doomed victims and feckless 911 operators.

It ends with a statement that any character, characterization, dialogue and – you know – most any "fact" can and may be bullshit. Any resemblance between a…

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Added Mar 16, 2014 02:07AM PST • Updated Jan 23, 2015 05:35PM PST
9th Saving Private Ryan
1998 Really Great 37 Points

Do war movies get any better than this? Puts you right there, in all the graphic realism that comes with war. But not just any war movie, this story spins a great tale that follows Hanks and his crew looking for and saving Ryan (Pitt). If you like war movies, this is a must-see.

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Added Mar 16, 2014 02:05AM PST • Updated Jan 23, 2015 05:35PM PST
10th Race
2016 Great 69 Points

"Jesse Owens, American Hero" are four words that were imprinted in my mind from an early age. Jackie Robinson stands with him as an icon of African-American greatness, and therefore of American greatness, but Jesse Owens came first, by a lot. Plus he won not just one but four Gold Medals and did so in front of Hitler at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Fact: His was the first American victory over the Nazi regime.

Jesse Owens is therefore an American hero of the first order. His important story and those entwined with his get well and movingly told in Race. Yet, this diligent and evoc…

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Added Feb 27, 2016 11:46PM PST • Updated Feb 27, 2016 11:46PM PST
11th Patton
1970 Great 83 Points

Essential though Patton may be – as war movie, as American history, as biopic – it's not the epochal statement the Academy thought they were canonizing with seven Oscars in 1971, including Best Picture. Back then Frances Ford Coppola's script seemed subversive, undermining American militarism during the trauma of the Vietnam War. Today it seems like a rudimentary evocation of the Greatest Generation.

Thank God for the Greatest Generation. General George S. Patton was one of their foremost exemplars, even if his distinctive flamboyance marked him as something of an anomaly.

The bi…

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Added Mar 16, 2014 02:08AM PST • Updated Feb 27, 2016 11:46PM PST
12th Fury
2014 Really Great 83 Points

The pantheon of essential WWII movies has a new entrant. David Ayer's Fury stars Brad Pitt as an American Staff Sergeant who must lead a platoon of Sherman tanks against the Germans' superior Panzers. Think Chevies vs. Benzes, with Brad and his battle-hardened crew in an outgunned Sherman named Fury.

Set in the last month of the war, just before VE Day, fighting Germans in Germany, it was beyond ugly.

Ayer & Pitt's Fury is an old-school war movie with new fangled realism. Even the music is old-fashioned, understated most of the time, making it a war movie with lots of quiet passag…

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Added Oct 19, 2014 12:22AM PST • Updated Feb 27, 2016 11:46PM PST
13th Free State of Jones
2016 Really Great 83 Points

Newton Knight is a newly essential Matthew McConaughey role that finally knights Newt Knight as a true American hero. Even more, Free State of Jones is an only-in-America story, so corny it could only be true. A deeply moral white man frees enslaved blacks and marries a black woman during the Civil War. Whaaat?

Knight was a 19th century Mississippi übermensch: physically, morally and martially superior to those around him. He was a burly 6'4" at a time when the average man was a skinny 5'8". A yeoman farmer who had no slaves, he depended on his own labor to feed his family, as did most…

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Added Jul 02, 2016 04:22PM PST • Updated Aug 27, 2017 02:18PM PST
14th Midway
2019 Great 66 Points

Visual and historic greatness trumps the wooden acting in Midway, making it a great war movie that is an absolute must for we history buffs and patriots. The Battle of Midway was the Greatest Naval Battle Ever, won by Admiral Chester Nimitz (Woody Harrelson, stolid) & pilots like Dick Best (Ed Skrein, breakout).1

This huge war movie proceeds rapidly from pre-Pearl Harbor to "The Day That Shall Live in Infamy":https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attack_on_Pearl_Harbor, and then through the very eventful six months that followed December 7, 1941, including "the Doolittle Raid":https://en.wik…

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Added Nov 16, 2019 10:22PM PST • Updated Dec 08, 2019 09:13AM PST


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