Welcome to America, according to the movies – a mixture of triumph and tragedy, endless opportunity and deep prejudice, centuries-old traditions and amber waves of grain and all the things money can or cannot buy. This United States has been the subject of these scintillating images on a screen almost since the birth of the medium, although the last half-century in particular has seen many diverse, singular and often complicated films come to terms with the checkered and sometimes rocky past. . present of our nation. The films have reminded us of what is so wonderful about this ongoing experience that unfolds from sea to sea. They have also shed light on what is sorely in need of improvement, questioned fundamental imperfections that sometimes threaten to become chasms, and cast cold, hard glances at nearly 250 years of American life.
So, in the spirit of celebrating our annual Independence Day, we’re picking out what we think are the 50 best movies of the past 50 years that look at America, directly or indirectly, and show us something about ourselves. . We’re limiting this list to only films released since 1972 – no coincidence, that was the year a certain movie about an American family with a penchant for making offers we couldn’t refuse for the premiere times in theaters. This movie is indeed on that list. The same goes for a host of other movies, big and small, that take the notion of being American and examine it from every angle. You’ll probably disagree with some of the choices here and applaud others. And frankly, what could be more American than that?