‘Independence Day’ and 22 Other Movies to Watch on the Fourth of July

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Photo credit: Shutterstock - Getty Images
Photo credit: Shutterstock - Getty Images


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What about taking in a movie this Fourth of July? Sure, setting off fireworks and running around with playfully dangerous sparklers can be fun, but some people would much rather watch other fools launch pyrotechnics into the sky from the safety of their homes. Your uncle may say there’s nothing more American than grilling hot dogs and burgers outside on Independence Day, but who said you can’t celebrate the birth of our nation in front of your TV? Here’s a list of films to settle down with for the holiday.

Independence Day (the 1996 version, you heathens)


I mean, it's kind of all right there in the name.

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Hamilton (2020)

Now that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway hit is on Disney+, you don’t have to dish out thousands of dollars to watch this Tony-winning musical.

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Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (2005)

The maxi-sized Baker family (Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hilary Duff, Tom Welling, and more) trek to Lake Winnetka to celebrate Labor Day, but watching little Mark Baker (Forrest Landis) set off an entire backpack full of fireworks and causing their boat to explode is much more entertaining than seeing it happen to your cousin.

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Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

The Vietnam War tale, based on a veteran's true story, gets automatic inclusion on this list.

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Harriet (2019)

Celebrating our country’s Independence Day means remembering the dark days in our nation’s history too. This 2021 film does just that—it follows abolitionist Harriet Tubman (played by Cynthia Erivo) who led hundreds of enslaved people to freedom through the Underground Railroad.

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American Graffiti (1973)

It doesn't get much more American than this coming-of-age comedy with a strong dose of ‘60s nostalgia.

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Jaws (1975)

The action goes down on a Fourth of July weekend, but this horror movie might make you too afraid of sharks to ever celebrate July 4 on a beach again.

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Girls Trip (2017)

This comedy doesn’t scream Fourth of July, but the four main characters are heading to New Orleans on July 4th weekend for the Essence Festival. Independence Day films don’t always have to be about outright patriotism and freedom—a nice laugh on the holiday works too.

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Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

A musical classic about the man who wrote “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

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Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Mustache-less Chris Evans. Need I say more?

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Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

For the more eclectic celebrators, Moonrise Kingdom is the ultimate summery Wes Anderson Americana flick—and probably the only film that could actually make you actually want to go camping.

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Selma (2014)

Ava DuVernay directs this Civil Rights film that follows Martin Luther King Jr.’s (David Oyelowo) journey to securing voting rights for Black Americans. A biographical film that truly demonstrates patriotism and freedom.

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Top Gun (1986)

This is the second Tom Cruise combat movie on this list, and it helped make “Maverick” a part of the American pop-culture lexicon.

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Cabin in the Woods (2011)

Corn on the cob and a dip in the pool for Independence day? Boring. Instead, try a summer lake-house romp that explores all of America's scariest lore in one fell swoop.

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A League of Their Own (1992)

Few things are more American than baseball. Feminist film A League of Their Own shows a women-led team breaking the glass ceiling in the male-dominated league.

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National Treasure (2004)

Nicolas Cage turns into a historian obsessed with finding a hidden treasure with links to his family history. His fixation leads him to steal the Declaration of Independence, where a coded message to a map lies. Will he find the treasure or is he just another victim of a good ole conspiracy theory? Watch and you’ll see!

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Air Force One (1997)

The ultimate action actor, Harrison Ford, plays a former soldier turned president who must save his family and staff from terrorists after they hijack his plane.

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Lincoln (2012)

Acclaimed filmmaker Steven Spielberg directed and produced this biopic about former president Abraham Lincoln, with Daniel Day-Lewis delivering a stunning performance in the titular role. This 2012 film has become a staple of American cinema, which makes it a perfect 4th of July film.

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Glory (1989)

Celebrate the Black veterans who risked their lives fighting the Confederacy in the Civil War.

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Remember the Titans (2000)

This film brings all the feels. Starring Denzel Washington and a 20-year-old Ryan Gosling, this sports film is based on a true story of a newly integrated high school football team and their Black coach. The acting is spectacular, but it’s the soundtrack that’ll give the goosebumps.

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Zero Dark Thirty (2013)

This thriller follows U.S. intelligence officers and Navy SEALS on their decade-long search for Osama bin Laden. Enter: Maya, a CIA intelligence analyst who might have answers to all of their questions.

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Hidden Figures (2016)

The untold story of three courageous Black women who helped NASA journey to space is the perfect film to reminisce about America’s history. Add the stellar performances of Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae, Hidden Figures might become one of your favorite films.

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Pearl Harbor (2001)

A love triangle and a historical drama all in one? Pop the popcorn, please.

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Saving Private Ryan (1998)

If Remember the Titans will make you tear up, then Saving Private Ryan will make you bawl. This war film follows a group of soldiers who venture behind enemy lines to rescue a lone soldier whose brothers have all been killed in combat.

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